Matias Bechtold, Berlin
Chris Dreier, Berlin
Bert Didillon, Köln
Gary Farrelly, Dublin/ Brüssel
Lothar Götz , London
Alekos Hofstetter & Florian Göpfert (Tannhäuser Tor), Berlin
Pablo de Lillo, Oviedo/Gijon
Julia Zinnbauer, Düsseldorf
In its futuristic shape the elegant and slender building of the Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal towers high above the whole city and stands out distinctly from the historic constructions of the industrial metropolis. From almost all over the city the space capsule – like penthouse of the building can be seen – from the sylvan slopes of the so called “Bergisches Land”, from the motorway that connects the city to Düsseldorf and Cologne and also from the Schwebebahn, that rushes by at the foot of the distinctive tower and which is no less a visionary landmark of Wuppertal. The exhibition called “Heimatplan”, which will be opened at GRÖLLE pass:projects gallery in Wuppertal on January 23rd, deals with the way contemporary artists see the architecture of post-war modernism.
Post-war modernist architecture
After the Second World War all over Europe a large number of buildings were developed in a similar spirit as the tower of the Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal. Pursuing very ambitious ideals, architects reconstructed the cities that were destroyed by the war, they created new urban districts and planned new infrastructures. These architects aimed at the realization of democratic goals, at decent housing conditions, at transparency and elegance and above all they were concerned with an optimistic belief in the future. Moreover, materials and techniques that were newly developed in the aerospace industries made possible innovative shapes of buildings and often led to a very sculptural approach. The spectrum of post-war modernist architecture ranges from the strict functionality of modular buildings over supposedly demure administrative buildings with grid-like facades to futuristic space-age constructions and also to the rough opulence of brutalist concrete buildings.
Today’s view of post-war modernism
Today many buildings of this era disappear from the cities almost without their loss being noticed and very often without any protest by the citizens. Others are being modified beyond recognition in the context of building redevelopment. In this way especially the characteristic qualities of these houses get lost: the elegant proportions that are formed by the interaction of lines and planes, the subtle details of the design which e.g. can be seen in the combination of surfaces and joints and also the very typical materials and colours of that period. Just a few buildings such as the high rise of the Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal are being appreciated for their uniqueness and are declared “historic monuments”. Often, however, they are exposed to a lack of knowledge and ignorance.
Due to a flood of images we live in a time in which people look back benevolently at all kinds of styles and eras. In the areas of fashion, film and architecture the retro idea has been playing a role for many years. Why is just post-war modernist architecture so much in danger? What happened to the utopias of that time and who does still believe in them? What does the beauty of the buildings that came into being in this context consist in?
Heimatplan. An exhibition at GRÖLLE pass:projects
The artists who take part in the exhibition called “Heimatplan” ask exactly these questions. Even though they deal with the shapes and ideals of the post-war era in their own individual way, there is one thing they all have in common. They all share a great enthusiam for the visual language of post-war modernist architecture. They regard the various buildings of that period in their artistic, their cultural and their historical context. They discuss the relationship between urbanism and social issues. But they also estimate the architects’ imagination in the context of science fiction films, the Sputnik shock and the moon landing. “Heimatplan” emphasises the importance of post-war modernist architecture at present time and reveals the particular beauty of these buildings.
The exhibition has its origin in the 100th birthday of Paul Schneider von Esleben in 2015, the architect who designed the building of the Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal. From January 23rd to March 17th 2016 the way the artists of the “Heimatplan”-project deal with the spirit of modernism can be seen at GRÖLLE pass:projects gallery in Wuppertal.
In April 2016 an additional exhibition that deals with post-war modernist architecture named “Neue Heimat” will be opened at “Weißer Elefant” gallery in Berlin.