STRASBOURG.- "Interférences / Interferenzen. Architecture. Allemagne France, 1800-2000", a wide-ranging exhibition of architecture, art and history, provides an unprecedented overview of architectural and urban interaction between France and Germany from the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era to the present day. It offers a new way of looking at Franco-German history through architecture and urbanism.
The exhibition explores an area in which European architecture has developed over the last two centuries, looked at through the prism of cities, monuments, debates and great intellectual figures. It showcases architects, artists and intellectuals who have worked at the interface between French and German civilisations from Karl-Friedrich Schinkel to Jean Nouvel and including Gottfried Semper, Viollet-le-Duc, Le Corbusier and Rudolf Schwarz. Particular attention has also been paid to the 'mirror relations' between large cities like Paris and Berlin, and to frontier zones transformed by annexation and occupation like Strasbourg,Metz, the Rhineland and the Saar.
With more than 400 works and objects rarely or never exhibited, "Interférences /Interferenzen. Architecture. Germany France, 1800 2000" makes use of a wide variety of media to convey the dynamism of these exchanges: architects' plans and drawings, scale models, photographs, films, books and works of art including major works by Victor Hugo, Fernand Léger, Marcel Gromaire and Gerhard Richter. The layout, on a timeline basis, allows for a number of thematic approaches while at the same time favouring new connections and comparisons.
The nine sections making up the exhibition highlight the Gothic versus Classical controversy, Industrial Age developments, issues in late 19th century New Urbanities and Nationalisms, the aesthetics of the Reform, modernity in the Inter-War Period, the Occupation and Reconstruction, the 'spectacularisation' of architecture, the crisis of modernity and the return to urbanity between the 1960s and the 1980s, and finally, European prospects since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The city of Strasbourg and its remarkable architecture occupy a central place in the exhibition. As part of the project initiated by the municipal council to extend the area of the World Heritage site, the history of the Neustadt (or German city) is given particularly detailed treatment,. Attention is also given to the garden cities and urban planning of Paul Schmitthenner dating from 1942. The section on Strasbourg concludes with the footbridge linking Strasbourg and Kehl, designed by Marc Mimram and completed in 2004.
Curators: Jean-Louis Cohen, architectural historian, Professor at New York University, and Hartmut Frank, architectural historian, Professor at the Hafen-City University in Hamburg.