31 January 2020

Beyond Bauhaus exhibition at RIBA

I worked in Central London for several years, lastly near Kings Cross, when it was fairly easy to get to exhibitions at RIBA, even if it meant taking a flexible view of how long a lunch hour lasts. That stopped when I started work in Teddington and I have struggled to pick the habit back up since retiring.

An exhibition on Modernism got me back there.

I made something of the trip walking up from Vauxhall, though walking around Buckingham Palace at Changing of the Guard was not one of my better ideas. Apart from that the walk went well and it was nice revisiting once familiar places like Berkley Square.

I hit another problem at RIBA with the cafe immediately on the right of the entrance and the one of the first floor both being out of action. I consoled myself by taking in the displays on the first and third floors which got me in an architectural mood.

Going back to the ground floor for the main exhibition I found where the cafe had moved to and was able to have a coffee and a toasted sarnie before going in.

The premise of the exhibition was that Modernism in Britain grew directly out of the Bauhaus movement with the relocation of some of the key players, notably Walter Gropius, from Germany to England, and this was the thread that the exhibition followed.

The staging of the exhibition was somewhat unusual, and I have mixed views on it. The extra space needed to display the photographs and drawings was created by adding pillars to the room but instead of mounting them on the outside they went inside and we peered at them through geometrically shaped openings, a bit like Play School. These shapes were included in the exhibition poster though I failed to determine their exact relevance.

That said, I am a sucker for architecture in general and Modernism in particular and I loved the exhibition. One favourite section was that on individual houses built for rich sponsors, often a good source for experimental architecture, and another was on industrial buildings.

In the post-Bauhaus section I was surprised to see several pictures of Eric Lyons' SPAN developments but none of their first on Parkley in Richmond, which is about 200m away from where I live. I cheekily raised this with one of the staff who was overseeing a tour group and she skilfully defended the curator's choice.

Other famous architects featured were Denys Lasdun (NT) and Erno Goldfinger (Trellick Towers) and there were other famous buildings by less famous architects which produced a peppering of works known to me amongst many that were not. Seeing both helped put the known into a wider context.

The exhibition confirmed my love of Modernism and of exhibitions at RIBA.

No comments:

Post a comment

All comments are welcome. Comments are moderated only to keep out the spammers and all valid comments are published, even those that I disagree with!