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Exhibition brings together drawings and photographs of architectural works of Louis I. Kahn
Piazza Del Campo No.2 Siena, Italy, 1951. Pastel on paper. Nathaniel Kahn Collection.


ISTANBUL.- Pera Museum’s new exhibition “Re/Framing Louis Kahn: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” brings together drawings and photographs of architectural works of Louis I. Kahn – architect, thinker, artist, and an “architectural guru” who is considered among the leading figures of 20th century architecture. Curated by N. Müge Cengizkan, the exhibition’s focus is based on Cemal Emden’s photographs that reframe Kahn’s buildings through different themes. Sponsored by Seranit Group and with the support of Arçelik, the exhibition also offers new insights into Kahn’s ideas through his visionary writings, which have been translated into Turkish for the first time.

The exhibition consists of drawings and photographs of key buildings and sites Pennsylvania where Kahn spent his whole life, worked, taught and practiced, to Dhaka and Ahmedabad, as well as Kahn’s own sketches, drawings, and paintings. The photographs that revisit Kahn’s works from the perspective of “tectonics through light,” “constructing the place,” and “assembling the program” constitute the backbone of the exhibition, which also includes short films depicting architect-instructors, sent from Middle East Technical University (METU) to the University of Pennsylvania, to Kahn’s Master’s Studio, commenting on and reminiscing about this extraordinary man; selections from books written by and on Kahn can also be found in the exhibition.

Edited by N. Müge Cengizkan and designed by Bülent Erkmen, the exhibition catalogue of “RE/FRAMING LOUIS KAHN: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” includes Kahn’s classic texts that have never been translated into Turkish before; “Silence and Light”, “The Room, The Street and Human Agreement”, and “Law and Rule in Architecture” as well as articles from N. Müge Cengizkan, Jale Erzen, Ahmet Gülgönen, Gönül Aslanoğlu Evyapan, Neslihan Dostoğlu, Cengiz Yetken, Yıldırım Yavuz, and Orhan Özgüner.

Milestones of Kahn’s Architecture Career and Biographical Sketches
Louis Isadore Kahn was born in 1901 in Pärnu, Russia (today Estonia), far from Philadelphia, where he spent his whole life, worked, fell in love, and took his last breath. He began to win his first awards with his paintings at a young age. In 1920, with full scholarship offered by the University of Pennsylvania, Kahn enrolled in the School of Fine Arts, to the best architectural program of the country at that time. He graduated in 1924 with the Arthur Spayd Brooke Memorial Prize awarded to students for their “outstanding achievements”.

In April 1928, he traveled to Europe for two years with the money he had spared and produced many drawings and sketches during this trip. His itinerary started from London and continued to Amsterdam, then to the northern cities of Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Riga, and then to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Munich. In a letter he wrote to a friend, he said, “There ... I met with the kind of architecture I was looking for.”

Kahn left Yale University in 1955 and started to work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts where he continued teaching until the end of his life. He became the most important figure in what would later be called the “Philadelphia School”. In his “Master’s Studio” offering a graduate degree in each of the two semesters during one academic year, Kahn left behind an astonishing legacy of teaching and advising to approximately 425 students from 40 countries.

Kahn’s first solo show exhibition was opened in White Art Museum (named Johnson Art Museum at the moment) in 1964. Two years later, Kahn was again at MoMA: 186 original drawings, 22 models, and 69 large-size photographs were displayed in the retrospective exhibition entitled “The Architecture of Louis I. Kahn”. Kahn participated in the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1968 with his installation called Ambiente. A year later, his Palazzo Dei Congress, the only built project in Europe, was exhibited in a single building exhibition held in Venice. The number of exhibitions increased rapidly due to his international recognition, and in each exhibition the content became denser.

In the last years of his life, he worked on some of his iconic buildings like the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Kimbell Art Museum, Phillips Exeter Academy Library, and Indian Institute of Management. Kahn designed the National Parliament of Bangladesh (Sher-e-Bangla Nagar), Yale Center for British Art and Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. On his way back to Philadelphia from Ahmedabad, Louis Kahn suffered a heart attack and died at the New York Train Station on March 17, 1974.

The exhibition “RE/FRAMING LOUIS KAHN: Photographs by Cemal Emden – Drawings and Paintings” is on view at the Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey between 07 December 2017 - 04 March 2018.





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