Gallery Luisotti is delighted to announce its upcoming exhibition Mies Model Study (Golf Club) by gallery artist Joachim Brohm. Produced in 2013, the series serves as a trace of a temporary 1:1 scale model of a previously unbuilt golf clubhouse of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s design from 1930. Situated on a hill on the outskirts of Krefeld, Germany, the model was built in May of 2013 and was dismantled in December of the same year. Seven photographs, a mixture of black and white and color, will be installed evenly around the gallery, producing an architecturally grounded viewing experience that heightens the subject matter of the works.
At first seeming merely descriptive of the project, conceived of by Belgian architect Paul Robbrecht, the photographs reveal themselves to be deeply analytical, interpretive and even re-interpretive of the history of the site and Mies’ biography as well. That history begins with an architectural competition between the established Berlin architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, at that time director of the Bauhaus, and local Krefeld architect August Biebricher. Mies’ sweeping single-story plans, which he rendered at a 1:200 scale, handily won. Due to the Great Depression, however, the funds for the clubhouse could not be raised, and the project was canceled. The plans would go on to be preserved at Mies’ archive at the Museum of Modern Art, where Robbrecht would happen upon them. At that point, the project to erect a full-scale model took on urgency.
Brohm perfectly captures the thematic goals of the project, primarily oriented around investigating Mies’ architectural style at the height of European modernism. Expansive, uncluttered volumes and clean sightlines along with a virtual co-existence with the surrounding fields and forest are rendered via the camera with a knowing objectivity. Brohm’s placement of the structure within the frame echoes architectural plans with head-on elevations and angled axonometric projections, which incidentally became dominant in European architectural schools in the 1920s. The shifting between color and black and white foregrounds to various degrees the finish of the model. In black and white, the walls of the clubhouse appear mostly uniform—complete even—and all that might be missing are the occupants. The color works serve to short-circuit that reading by plainly revealing the walls to be facades, hollow imitations. Whitewashed plywood has its raw obverse exposed in several examples.
The chrome-plated stanchions, which reflect their surroundings and support the roof structure, are the sole Miesian detail that was completely finished in the model. Brohm emphasizes the stanchions, making their importance to the project and to Mies’ design clear. The mirrored surfaces reflect in several directions the surrounding landscape. They serve as flashpoints that connect the interior of the clubhouse with its non-contiguous surroundings, primarily the tress that ring the site.
The life cycle of the Krefeld Golf Club is marked by potential and decay. At first never realized and the site then giving way to a German military field in the years leading up to World War II, history preserved Mies’ ideas that could then be realized. But the model was never intended to be permanent and was dismantled only months after its making. In this way, Brohm’s photographs are more closely aligned with the plans in Mies’ archive; they evince permanence in the face of a temporary reality.