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Magnifique! French Architecture and Decor
September 12 - November 27, 2003

Original design drawings from the Nineteenth Century Parisian firm of Viollet-le-Duc. Contemporary drawings and photographs of French architectural magnificence

French design became the gold standard for the expression of power long before Versailles stunned the world with its magnificence. Politics and architecture have been intertwined in France ever since the Romanesque evolved into the Gothic.

A cathedral's flying buttress demonstrates that man can redirect the force of gravity through beauty. This French approach to architecture as a way to control nature places man directly in the center of the universe.

Antique design drawings of buildings and their decor communicate this sense of mastery as clearly as Louis XIV used architecture to overwhelm his opponents.

ArchiTech Gallery has assembled a collection of design drawings, watercolors, photographs and antique prints that speak of that French need for control. Drawings from the 19th Century Parisian firm of Viollet-le-Duc, the most powerful architect of the time, outline schemes for Paris' City Hall, The National Assembly, and various cathedral re-modelings. Watercolors by Elizabeth Ockwell reduce to a sinuous line the exotic meanderings of the Paris Opera House. And photographs by Mark Ballogg of the legendary Pere LaChaise cemetery reveal that a wealthy Frenchman's grip on power extended long past death.

"Magnifique!" opens Friday, September 12th, and continues through Saturday, November 27th, 2003.


Notes on the Exhibition:
Magnifique! French Architecture and Décor
September 12 - November 27, 2003

Apart from its structurally expressive cathedrals and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, French architecture is about as far from the "Chicago School" as one can get. In the salad bowl of design I typically present during a year, these drawings and photographs would show how the French view of the Nineteenth Century world was still about abundance, delight and optimism.

My collection of Viollet-le-Duc drawings were to give the weight and intellect to this show, while Elizabeth Ockwell's watercolors and John Kimmich's photographs were all about emotion.

Mark Ballogg is a successful architectural photographer in Chicago. He'd brought in digitally printed pictures on watercolor paper he'd taken in Pere Lachaise cemetery, shot with a traditional large format camera. Like more and more serious pros, though, he's abandoning the darkroom, finding greater tonal range than he gets with sensitized paper and chemicals. This is the wave of the nearer and nearer future and I've had to drop my bias toward high contrast, simple formalism in photographs. But I can't argue with beauty and the enthusiasm of these artists shows me there are new ways coming to see the world.

click on image
to enlarge

World Trade Center fine-art photograph
John Kimmich-Javier
Ceiling, Opera

Gelatin-Silver Print, 1985
10 x 10 inches

Image of knight in French architecuture
from a set of 16 steel engravings
circa 1880

14 x 11 inches

Moving of stones at Louvre
Christophe Valsecchi

Gelatin-Silver Print, 2002
11 x 14 inches

Paris image architecture
Louis Villeminot

Pencil design for stone carving in Paris' City Hall

8 x 6 inches

Paris Eiffel Tower by Isom
Madeleine Isom
Eiffel Tower
Gelatin-Silver Print, 2002
12 x 12 inches

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
architectural art for sale

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