Dezeen Magazine

Barbican exhibition focuses on relationship between architecture and photography

Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern World at the Barbican will attempt to explore the shared history of photography and architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries, in the "first major exhibition" of its kind in London (+ slideshow).

Berenice Abbott Night view New York City 1932 Barbican Constructing Worlds
Night view, New York City by Berenice Abbott, 1932

The exhibition, which opens to the public at the Barbican Centre in the City of London tomorrow, includes work from 18 photographers including Iwaan Baan, Helene Binet, Bas Princen, Ed Ruscha and Julius Schulman.

Bernd and Hilla Becher Lessines 2010 Barbican Constructing Worlds
Lessines by Bernd and Hilla Becher, 2010

It aims to bring together a range of work to show how, through documenting the built environment, architectural photography can reveal "wider truths about society".

Lucien Herve High Court of Justice Chandigarh 1955
High Court of Justice, Chandigarh by Lucien Herve, 1955

Over 250 photographic works are featured in the show, including a number of rare images, covering the period from the 1930s to the present day.

Case Study House #22 Pierre Koenig by Julius Shulman, 1959
Case Study House #22, Pierre Koenig by Julius Shulman, 1959

"Photography and architecture have a long and shared history and yet amazingly this if the first major exhibition in London to throw light on this relationship," said Jane Alison, head of visual arts at the Barbican.

Helene Binet Jewish Museum Berlin Daniel Libeskind
Jewish Museum Berlin, Daniel Libeskind by Helene Binet, 1997

"Featuring leading photographers who between them have represented some of the most important architecture of the 20th century, it is a must see for anyone interested in how we understand architecture and equally in the dramatic global shifts in society in the post-war period."

Hiroshi Sugimoto World Trade Centre 1997
World Trade Centre by Hiroshi Sugimoto, 1997

Each photographer's work is presented chronologically, starting with Changing New York, a series shot by Berenice Abbott between 1935 and 1939 that chronicles the emergence of the skyscraper as the city's defining typology.

Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue Los Angeles CA by Stephen Shore, 21 June 1974
Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles by Stephen Shore, 1974

These images will sit alongside documentary photographs of architecture in the southern states of America, shot during the same period by Walker Evans.

Thomas Struth Clinton Road London 1997
Clinton Road, London by Thomas Struth, 1997

One of architectural photography's most significant figures, Julius Schulman, is represented with images from the project that spawned his best known images – photographs of the Case Study Houses programme in California shot between 1945 and 1966.

Bas Princen Mokattam-ridge-2009 Barbican Constructing Worlds
'Mokattam Ridge' by Bas Princen, 2009

Lucien Herve's series on Le Corbusier's Chandigarh city project in India rounds off the first half of the 20th century, before the exhibition moves into the 1960s and 1970s with images from Ed Ruscha, Bernd and Hila Becher, Stephen Shore and Thomas Struth – all of whom focused on depicting vernacular architecture during this period.

Frame Houses and a Billboard Atlanta Georgia by  Walker Evans,  1936
Frame Houses and a Billboard, Atlanta, Georgia by Walker Evans, 1936

More recent works include Helen Binet's studies of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin, Hiroshi Sugimoto's blurred images of daily life and selections of work from Luigi Ghirri, Luisa Lambri and Andreas Gursky.

Iwan Baan Torre David
Torre David by Iwan Baan, 2011

The final part of the exhibition looks at images that show cities going through phases of dramatic change. These include Bas Princen's documentary series Refuge, Five Cities focusing on urban transformation in the Middle East and Iwaan Baan's photographs of the infamous Torre Davide – a 45 storey skyscraper in in Caracas, Venezeula, that squatters turned into a role model for informal communities.

Nadav Kander Chongqing IV Sunday Picnic Chongqing Municipality 2006
Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic), Chongqing Municipality by Nadav Kander, 2006

Other works in this section include Guy Tillim's Avenue Patrice Lumumba – focusing on colonial structures in Angola, Congo and Mozambique – Simon Norfolk's Chronotopia and Burke + Norfolk series that depict the effects of the past on modern architectural landscapes and images of colossal modern construction projects by Nadav Kander.

Simon Norfolk Former Soviet era Palace of Culture Kabul 2001-02 Courtesy Simon Norfolk
Former Soviet-era 'Palace of Culture', Kabul by Simon Norfolk, 2001-2

A series of events will run parallel to the exhibition, which is open until 11 January 2015, including a new art commission for the Barbican's Curve gallery by artist Walead Beshty and a film season.

Cemetery of San Cataldo Modena by Luigi Ghirri, 1985
Cemetery of San Cataldo, Modena by Luigi Ghirri, 1985