Thomas Demand Model Studies
German artist Thomas Demand is best known for his large scale photographs that question the medium as a faithful record of reality.
This exhibition is a result of a residency at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles where he discovered the archive of the celebrated architect John Lautner (1911-1994). Lautner’s glamorous and curvaceous homes have been featured in many films, including the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.
This exhibition is based on 12 architectural models he discovered in the Lautner archive, a humble counterpoint to Lautner’s heroic, spectacular architecture. This is the first time that Demand has photographed models that are not his own.
|These models are all a little run-down and certainly not fabricated to impress or convince a client, even if they played that role at times, too. In other words, they are working tools, and as one soon finds out when studying Lautner’s work, drawing wasn’t one of his many talents. So I like to imagine that this man – with a notoriously powerful handshake and no fear of large gestures in concrete – would have inspired himself with these modest cardboard objects, which have since weathered over time and have now become the concern of conservatorial efforts of the Getty.|
Depicting the models from many angles, he establishes an intimate relationship with them that is independent of the buildings they refer to. Demand’s studies of Lautner’s models ultimately have more to do with painting and sculpture than architecture.
These beautiful photographs recall Modernist painting and sculpture, including Picasso’s Cubist reliefs, as well as mid-20th century abstract painting. Their meditative relationship to recent art history also distinguishes these photographs from much of Demand’s work to date.
Demand has a keen interest in architecture, because it deals with utopias and ideas of a better future, he has said. His own art involves making painstaking paper models of architectural interiors and other built environments and then photographing them. Despite the absence of people his often deceptively ordinary scenes are loaded with significance. He has made models of the Oval Office of the US President, the tunnel in Paris where Princess Diana had her fatal accident, and a Florida counting station, scene of the contested vote in 2000 that elected George W. Bush.
Born in 1964 in Munich Thomas Demand is one of Germany’s most prominent artists. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Serpentine Gallery in London and the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, as well as representing Germany at the Venice Biennale of 2003. He has often collaborated with Caruso St John, architects of Nottingham Contemporary, on the designs of his exhibitions. He has called the galleries “really perfect.”
Thomas Demand recently talked about his work with filmmaker Alex McDowell at art catalogues/LACMA.