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architectural art exhibition archive
beautiful mathematics, 20th century architectural elevations

Lying on Paper: Architectural Renderings of the 20th Century
March 19 - June 4, 2005

Presentation renderings of the 20th Century from Beaux-Arts excess to streamline modern.

The last stage of an architectural design is its presentation rendering. Often pictured in two point perspective, this image of the eventual building is primarily a sales tool, more about the building as "real estate" than as architecture. Drawn for the client to visualize the end result, or for the city to approve its construction, all presentation renderings are essentially "lies."

Even if drawn with mathematical precision true to the actual design plans, the rendering can only be a hypothesis, a landscape that will never appear exactly as it's pictured.

Historically, competition renderings were often drawn as flattened elevations, a legacy from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the legendary French school that formalized the practice.

ArchiTech Gallery has assembled original presentation renderings and prints from various architects and students of architecture from the last century. All are beautiful, imaginary landscapes that present the building as a "trophy" from an emotional, rather than an architectonic point of view.


Notes on the Exhibition:
Lying on Paper: Architectural Renderings of the 20th Century
March 19 - June 4, 2005

The Goldberg show was designed to shrink into the front half of the gallery two months into its run so I needed to put highly divergent works into the back space as a contrast to the specific Goldberg aesthetic. So nothing would be more different than a sampling of rendering styles from "Ecole" style formalism to looser, "Chicago School" rendering.

Since I've long considered perspective renderings to be more about themselves as works of art than to the architectonics of the building, (no architects or building contractors or zoning bodies need a rendering to guide them, only plans, elevations and details) I knew I could find a few dazzling examples in my stock.

The Viehmanns I've owned for years would be the starting point in this limited survey. His 1910 "rendus" from the architecture school of Carnegie Tech were often as spectacular as the great Ecole des Beaux-Arts drawings of the 19th century. Homework assignments by gifted students are always more about technical virtuosity than warmth or individuality.

My few perspectives from the Burnham Collection were already custom framed from the "Burnham's Chicago" show last year. The big Iannelli drawing for the Kalamazoo fountain hadn't been seen since the "Alfonso Iannelli: Driven to Design" exhibition in 2001. And the Bauhaus-type building of Henry Glass's Master's thesis in 1933 could be seen as a contrast to the other buildings rendered.

Everything was so different, (frames and all) that it could have been a mess if not for the theme being a survey of the different approaches throughout the 20th century, as well as the high quality of each work.

All the color and variety of the back half of the gallery stood in high contrast to the utopian coldness and limited palette of the Goldberg section. As I needed a title for the show, I laid out everything on the floor to find the common thread. The thing I noticed was that they were more about selling the building emotionally using idyllic settings, happy pedestrians or dramatized lighting. They were lies, all lies!

A perfect concept.

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Harry Viehman
Harry Viehman
Competition entry for a Memorial Lighthouse
Pen and ink and watercolor

Harry Viehman
Harry Viehman
Competition entry for a Memorial Lighthouse (detail)
Pen and ink and watercolor

Leonid Osseny Chair
Leonid Osseny
Chair Baroque Europe XVIII Century
Watercolor and pen and ink
January 14,1992

Henry P. Glass
Alfonso Iannelli
Proposed Design for Bronson Park Fountain, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Pencil and colored pencil & chalk on tracing paper

Alfonso Iannelli Tennis Club
Alfonso Iannelli
River Forest Tennis Club
Colored pencil on paper
circa 1915

Henry P. Glass
Henry P. Glass
Design for a Vienna Apartment Building
Pen and ink and watercolor

Bertrand Goldberg Associates
Metro Playa, Phoenix
Pen and ink and watercolor

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

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