With Modellstudien, the Insel Hombroich Foundation
presents its first solo show of works by a contemporary artist. At the Siza Pavilion at the Raketenstation Hombroich, Thomas Demand is showing a selection from his new Model Studies series.
In his large-scale close-up photographs of models made by the influential Japanese architects SANAA and the American architect John Lautner, Demand guides our vision to the details. The material characteristics, the state and the way the models have been made are the defining features of the artists nigh-abstract compositions. Inscriptions, marks of wear and tear and the impression of sculptural depth evoked by the incident light are occasional reminders that these are images of architectural models.
The series came about in the course of Thomas Demands working dialogue with architecture. It was in 2011, during a stay at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, that he stumbled on John Lautners models. The works that Demand completed under that influence were represented in a small selection at the 13th Biennale of Architecture in Venice in 2012. John Lautner became known above all for his spectacular residential houses in greater Los Angeles, not least by their entering cinema history as locations (Diamonds Are Forever, Charlies Angels, The Big Lebowski). For the past three years, Demand has also been creating a record of models being made at SANAA, the office of architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryūe Nishizawa. They have been formative for a number of years in the debate as to how art spaces should be designed, with solutions such as the building for the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Ishikawa or the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York as cases in point. Both, Lautners models and those of the SANAA office were and are made chiefly as part of the process of project development and have the function and the importance usually given to the drawing or sketch. Thus they are not properly display models for clients or exhibitions, but an essential part of the process by which a design comes about.
Thomas Demands Modellstudien are devoted to the model made of paper and cardboard as a form of gaining and communicating knowledge. To that extent, he remains true to his established artistic procedure. This consists in putting characteristic media-shaped and propagated societal scenes centre-stage as photographs of cardboard replicas. But here he varies upon a practice where both the physical qualities of the locations copied and the photographic composition are secondary to the significance of the familiar images; in the Modellstudien, the material and the composition have become defining features.
For Demand in his Modellstudien and for the Insel Hombroich Foundation alike, both the relationship between photography, the model and architecture, and the processes of translation between these different media hold an ongoing and special interest. The pavilions Erwin Heerich designed for Museum Insel Hombroich are only one visible testimony to the Foundations sense of the relationship between model, sculpture and architecture.