In parallel to the retrospective of Anne and Patrick Poirier’s photographic works at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, the Galerie Mitterrand has the pleasure of presenting the duo’s third solo exhibition, dedicated to the architectural models central to their work.
From the late 1960s onwards, and following their stay in the Villa Medici in Rome, Anne and Patrick Poirier have shown a fascination with the humanities, history, psychology, anthropology, architecture, and archaeology. The core idea of their work – the fragility of living beings, nature, and culture – is expressed metaphorically through a wide variety of mediums, notably including their recurrent use of fictive architectural models. Amongst other things, this medium draws on sketches, diagrams, and their recollections of wandering around archaeological sites. In 1973, more than a year of research on the ancient site of Ostia Antica, on the outskirts of Rome, culminated in an eponymous 12 by 6-meter model in terracotta. The Domus Aurea cycle (1974-82), which includes the Ausée model (1974-76) now in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, comprises an ensemble of six black architectural models in charcoal and willow charcoal. With this cycle, they pass from the soft light of Ostia Antica to the nocturnal world of a dark dream, inspired by their ‘architectural-archaeological’ excavations on the site of the ancient palace built by Nero. Here again, Anne and Patrick Poirier miniaturise ancient ruins to highlight the constant threats to nature and culture arising from the violence of man and his history.
Whereas the models of the 1970s are anchored in the past, antiquity, ruins, memory, and chaos, the immaculately white models of the 1990s seek to represent the organisation of knowledge, the human psyche, and memory, in the form of utopic museums or libraries. Even before they were familiar with Aby Warburg’s work, their architectural models took an elliptic form to evoke the perfect geometrical figure that, for them, symbolises the shape of the brain. As monumental as they are captivating, the two Mnémosyne models (1990-92) are emblematic of Anne and Patrick Poirier’s aesthetic development, which draws some of its inspiration from the solar site of Hadrian’s Villa, and symbolically conveys the transition from darkness to light. Among these oval, white architectural models, certain works such as Ouranopolis (1995), fall under a futuristic category.
At the De Memoria Et Reminiscentia exhibition held in the gallery’s original rue du Temple space in Paris, Anne and Patrick Poirier present a collection of a dozen architectural models along with preparatory sketches and photographs that retrace the evolution of this specific form in their work from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Anne and Patrick Poirier studied at the Arts décoratifs (School of Decorative Arts) in Paris and were in residence at in the Villa Medici in Rome from 1969 to 1971. They have been involved in several international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1976, 1980, and 1984), documenta VI in Kassel (1977), and the Lyon Biennale in 2000. Their work has been the subject of exhibitions in the most prestigious of institutions, including the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin (1977), the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris (1978), the MoMA in New York (1979), and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2001). More recently, their work was displayed at the Convent de la Tourette (2013) and the Fine Arts Museum in Nantes (2014), as well as the Cocteau Museum in Menton (2015), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field Triennale in Japan (2015), the Musée d'art moderne et contemporain (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) in Saint-Etienne (2016), and the Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden (Tony Cragg Foundation) in Wuppertal in 2016.
To mark the opening of the retrospective exhibition of Anne and Patrick Poirier’s photographic works at the Maison européenne de la photographie, Flammarion is publishing a monograph dedicated to their complete works.