The Architect's Image

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Strategies of Self-Presentation in the Modernity

This research project examines for the first time the relation of architects with their photographical representation, their own persona, their buildings in the context of design processes in reference to aspects of photographic and architectural history as well as art theory. The establishment of photography as media, that is as an important part of papers, magazines and books, was accompanied with a different usage that impacted image immanent strategies of person or object bound representation. Therefore, this research project is dedicated to the specific generation of architects that were at the beginning of their careers during the time of media upheaval and systematically utilized – this is the hypothesis- this new media as tool for self-representation. In the course of the two world wars, the representatives of modernity were confronted twice with drastic political and social disruptions that affected their architectural works as well as the implementations of self-portrayal in public. In this process, photography was an indispensable, staging media. As diverse their appearances were as different was its use by architects and their opinions on the media that varied from absolute excitement to complete rejection. Due to this, the scope of this examination is as broad as possible: all variations will be studied starting with the classic portrait shot to photographed architecture to the architect’s proper photographs or photo montages. Based on the individual photographic stock of single architects the question to be primarily clarified is about the underlying intention and the desired media effect in context of the published photographs.

The scientific significance of this research project lies in its interdisciplinary methodology: The in art history established approaches to science of images are used to reevaluate photographic material and place it into the superior context of photographic history. In addition to the goal of self-marketing, the staging strategies traditionally include the use for one's own posthumous fame, which is not limited to focus on an architect’s person in the picture, but also to offer their skills as an adequate visual language. Consequently, a mere translation of the portrait definition in art history has to be evaluated critically in the context of photography history. Therefore, it is essential in the framework of this research project to dispute whether the previous generic term of the ,architect’s portrait’ can withstand or has to be revised in parts or rather extended to architecture as undeniable element of an architect’s identity. Hence, this work promises new insights regarding photography as a tool for self-staging of architects as well as the associated repositioning of this genre within the history of photography.