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“Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century” Book Release

March 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

“Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century” Book Release

Claire Zimmerman, Associate Professor of History of Art and the Coordinator of Doctoral Studies in Architecture at the Taubman College, has written a book titled, Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) on how photography shaped modern architecture.

One hundred years ago, architects found in the medium of photography—so good at depicting a building’s lines and planes—a new and seemingly unavoidable way to promote their practices. It soon became apparent, however, that photography did more than represent what it depicted, altering both its subjects and their reception in the world. Architecture in the twentieth century, enlisted as a form of mass communication and an aesthetic practice, entered a complex relationship with its newest instrument of dissemination.

Zimmerman reveals how photography profoundly influenced architectural design in the past century, playing an instrumental role in the development of modern architecture. Her “picture anthropology” reveals how buildings changed irrevocably and substantially through their interaction with photography, beginning with the emergence of mass-printed photographically illustrated texts in Germany before World War II and concluding with the postwar age of commercial advertising. In taking up “photographic architecture,” Zimmerman considers two interconnected subjects: first, architectural photography and its circulation; and second, the impact of photography on architectural design. She describes how architectural photographic protocols developed in Germany in the early twentieth century, expanded significantly in the wartime and postwar diaspora, and accelerated dramatically with the advent of postmodernism.

In modern architecture, she argues, how buildings looked and how photographs made them look overlapped in consequential ways. In architecture and photography, ideas that were visible to the largest number over the widest terrain with the greatest clarity had the biggest and most lasting impact. This richly illustrated work shows, for the first time, how new ideas and new buildings emerged from the interplay of photography and architecture—changing how we see the world and how we act in it.
Zimmerman also authored Mies van der Rohe, 1886-1969: The Structure of Space and co-edited Neo-avant-garde and Postmodern: Postwar Architecture in Britain and Beyond.

Refreshments will be provided.


March 23, 2015
4:00 pm