The exhibition features 138 photographs, 14 albums and contact sheets, 20 magazines, 13 models and one projection, for the large part, all specimens are originals that reflect on modern architecture. The photographs were taken by around 35 photographers over more than four decades. Francesc Català-Roca, Kindel, Pando, Luis Lladó, Oriol Maspons-Julio Ubiña, Francisco Gómez, are just a few of the photographers on show at this exhibition.
Their cameras captured the models used for the most noteworthy architectural projects in modern history, and other less known projects, undertaken by the best Spanish architects of the mid- 20th century, such as Josep Lluís Sert, Miguel Fisac, José Antonio Coderch, Francisco de Asís Cabrero, Javier Carvajal, Alejandro de la Sota and Fernando Higueras.
“Modelling for the camera. Photography of architectural models in Spain, 1925–1970”
February 14 – May 14, 2017
Museo ICO, free entry
Calle Zorrilla 3, Madrid
Modelling for the Camera is a photography exhibition focussing on architectural models created in Spain between 1925 and 1970, the decades in which the modern architectural movement was born and developed. The exhibition explores and analyses these two systems of architectural representation, models and the photography thereof. Both serve as tools to document and express what architectural drafting aspires to be.
A model is a system of representing architecture in an abstract form, used for centuries. Without defining the realist form of the future building, it serves to explain and understand its forms, volumes and spatial relations in advance. During the periods of avant-gardism and modernity, the use of models became particularly popular as they served as objects that helped to provide an excellent explanation of quite simple and expressive buildings, stripped of the decoration and other classical imagery and compositions.
Photography helps us, first and foremost, to record models, an element that is occasionally difficult to preserve or transport. However, most importantly, the images have helped architects to profile the model, in other words, search for views, frames or compositions that highlight their values and characteristics in relation to the building it represents.
The main exhibition hall, located on the first floor of Museo ICO, features more than 100 representative photographs of the period taken by a variety of different notable photographers specialising in Spanish modern architecture. They depict both well-known and not so well-known models of architectural projects undertaken by the best Spanish architects of the mid-20th century.
Most of the photographs are vintage copies, i.e., original documents. This factor underscores the documentary nature of the pieces and stresses the need to preserve and catalogue architecture photographs, which would otherwise be at risk of deterioration and loss. Alongside these images, distributed throughout the room are a series of original models that accompany the corresponding images, thus making it possible for observers to witness how the camera and photographer interpret the actual subject transmitted by the architect.
As a complementary discourse and introduction to the exhibition, the entrance floor shows a series of photographs that depict the models accompanied by the people related to them (architects, clients, modellers, etc.), providing additional context not only on the period in which they were built but the scale of the models themselves.
Likewise, a series of albums and contact sheets are on display that serve as a testament to the photographic processes of composition and selection and ultimately to understand the visual methodology employed by photographers. Around twenty vintage magazine covers illustrated with images of models within the same exhibition space also serve to assess the importance of these images as graphic elements and instruments for marketing and the dissemination of modern architecture in specialist media.
Finally, an audiovisual exhibition shows brief fragments of the NO-DO (Noticiarios y Documentales) newsreel and other vintage documentaries that feature references to the use of property models or models used in architectural competitions as part of the propagandistic role of modernisation in the post-war period.
The exhibition is complemented by a book of the same name, published by La Fábrica and the Ministry of Development. This book features more than one hundred original photographs of models of important 20th century modern Spanish architectural projects, coinciding with the 175th anniversary of the first widespread sale of the daguerreotype. The book reflects on one specific aspect of the representation of architecture present in the practice of this art form since time immemorial: scale models. Modelling for the Camera. Photography of Architectural Models in Spain. 1925-1970 analyses the way in which objects that represent architecture are presented. Iñaki Bergera, Davide Deriu, Juan Carlos Oliver and Eduardo Prieto offer a theoretical insight into these practices. Topics such as the photography of models, their points of view, staging and visual control or the relationship between architect and model are addressed throughout the publication. The book spans a total of 208 pages, including 200 illustrations by authors like Català-Roca, Kindel, Pando, Lladó, Maspons- Ubiña, Gómez or Massats, and architects like Aizpurúa, De la Sota or Higueras, in addition to various original models depicted in photographs.