The publication looks at a few important works by selected artists and architects who work with transparency as an artistic strategy, which they implement primarily by using glass and mirrors but other media as well. The architects and artists listed together in this context form an unlikely alliance: Bruno Taut, Ivan Leonidov, Marcel Duchamp, Mies van der Rohe, Dan Graham, and Gerhard Richter. But they do have something in common: their work marks salient way stations in the story of modernism up to the present day.
Thoughts and Observations Triggered by a Visit to Farnsworth House
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron
Publisher: Actar Publishers
Size: 14 x 20 cm / 5.5 x 7.8 in, pages: 96
Illustrations: Color & Black and White
Publication date: June 2016
ISBN: English 978-1-945150-11-
Price: 22€ /$24.95 / £18
Published in the context of the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). Launch of the publication series by the inaugural MCHAP award winners Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for their project 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.
Here you can read the Introduction of the book, written by Jacques Herzog:
“In Fall 2014, Pierre de Meuron and I went to see Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Farnsworth House with a small group of archi- tects and teachers from the IIT in Chicago. These pictures and thoughts ensued after our visit.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s (1886-1969) truly iconic achievement, designed in 1945 and built in 1951, was revealed in all its crystalline purity on that beautiful day in October. His building was surrounded by an autumnal array of colors, which contribute to its enduring renown. The circumstances could hardly have been more auspicious for visiting a place and then, on leaving, finding oneself enriched by one of those relatively rare architectural experiences that do happen now and again, and are so wonderful because they are irresistibly overwhelming. But that is not what happened.
On the contrary: the longer Pierre and I looked at the building, studying the details of the structural joints and the proportions, and most especially, talking about its location on the property and its curiously “indecisive” height above the ground, the more we began to wonder. What was the architect’s rationale? What was important to him? The natural surroundings? The people? Or simply the ar- chitecture? How do human–nature–architecture work together in this particular case? What approach did the architect take to this triangle of fundamental forces that are the essence of every archi- tectural project?
Treacherous Transparencies analyzes transparency as expressed in architecture and art in an attempt to understand the intentions and objectives that underlie its use by pertinent architects and artists.
Transparency is not simply transparency. Its manifold nuances and complexions invest it with the intriguing artistic potential to express ambivalence. On the whole, however, transparency is con- noted with positive associations and hopes: in politics, finances, and buildings. Transparency is viewed as an antithesis to all that is concealed; it even allays doubts because nothing remains hid- den, everything is revealed. Nonetheless, such seemingly uncon- ditional exposure is still only appearance.
Let us examine the nature of transparency by looking at a few famous examples. To generate transparency, architecture—and art—rely on physical devices, in particular glass, crystal, and mirrors.”