Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mies' Barcelona Pavilion Walk-Around

There are gobs, oodles -- whatever term for large numbers -- of photos of Mies van der Rohe's iconic "International Style" German Pavilion built for a 1929 exhibition in Barcelona, destroyed after the event, and rebuilt in the mid-1980s. The Wikipedia entry on the Barcelona Pavilion (its common name) is here and another reference is here.

Unlike most modernist architecture, the Barcelona Pavilion oozed sex appeal and thereby served as inspiration for architects who had to hide in the bomb-shelters of Theory during the hard times of the Great Depression, the distraction of World War 2 and the five or ten years of post-war sorting-out that all took place before "significant" modernist buildings began appearing in number.

I confess that when in high school and college, I loved gazing at black and white photos of the original pavilion and lamenting its loss. And despite the aesthetic ruin manifested by across-the-board modernist architecture we have to live with today, I retain a soft spot in my heart for the pavilion -- van der Rohe's only real masterpiece (in my opinion, of course).

So when I recently found myself in Barcelona for the first time, the pavilion was on my must-see list along with certain works by Antoni Gaudí that I'll deal with later.

I mentioned above that many sets of photos exist of the rebuilt pavilion; they are all over the Web. Many are of nice, professional quality. Nevertheless, I thought I'd use this post to toss in my two bits worth of photos taken during a brief visit I paid while on my way to the big museum featuring Catalonian art. Here goes:

This is the Barcelona Pavilion in its present setting (it's that low, white structure in the background). From what I read, it's sited where the original was in 1929; presumably the large, open area was filled with other pavilions then.

Here's the entrance approach for those coming from the direction of the Plaça d'Espanya. You climb those steps and deal with the fellow on the platform to pay admission.

Admission paid, I entered and was facing towards the right side of the structure.

As in 1929 this area (can I call it a "room"?) has some Barcelona Chairs and hassocks. In the background is the same statue (so far as I know) by Georg Kolbe that was in the original pavilion.

Moving past the Barcelona Chairs to the pool area and statue. I included some of the structure at the left of the photo so that you can see how it is arranged.

I've walked a few steps and am now at the back side of the interior; here's how the statue's setting looks from this position.

Doing an about-face, I see this view along the back of the structure. That small enclosure in the background might have been office space in 1929: today, it's a bookshop.

These three photos are a kind of panorama of the back side of the pavilion, something not always pictured. It's quite possible that the place I was standing was occupied by other buildings making this vista unimportant in 1929, but I cannot confirm this.

Moving towards the front, here's a view of the large pool with its stony bottom. In the shady background is that shop.

Returning almost to the entrance, I see this. The seated man is the ticket seller.

Finally, a parting shot of the Barcelona Pavilion.

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