Modernism in Miniature: Points of View

Project for the Centrosoyus Palace, designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret

On view at the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) from 22 September to 8 January 2012, Modernism in Miniature: Points of View explores the encounter between photography and architectural model-making between c.1920 -1960.

Curated by Davide Deriu, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Westminster, London, the exhibition focuses on model photography as a distinctive genre. It proposes an inextricable link with the so-called ‘model boom’ and the explosion of mass media, where miniatures reached out to a wide public and, in some cases, acquired a cult status that has endured to this day. More information on the event after the break.

Following a period of decline at the end of the nineteenth century, caused by the emphasis on drawing advocated by the Beaux-Arts education and by the advent of low-cost reproduction techniques, model-making gained new prominence in the early twentieth century. A key feature of architectural modernism, the miniature model became a popular tool of design education and practice.

Daniil Fridman and Gleb Glushchenko with a model for the Building of Industry, Sverdlovsk, Soviet Union

Its re-emergence, as well as the increasing use of photography as a documentary medium, is associated with the modernist turn towards objectivity, the search for ways to communicate ideas in three dimensions and the possibility for examining a project with the client ‘in the round’.

R. Landau, photographer. View of model for Quitandinha Hotel and Apartment Block at Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, photomontage

During the 1920s – 1960s, a new visual expression emerged from the encounter of these two practices. By transforming a model into a two-dimensional surface, the camera became instrumental in promoting an international architecture that favored ‘the effect of volume’ over ‘the effect of mass’. It allowed architectural pictures to be manipulated, harnessed and processed to multiple effect as well as disseminated widely through books and magazines.

For more information on the event, please visit here.

About this author
Cite: Alison Furuto. "Modernism in Miniature: Points of View" 24 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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