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Gerald Zugmann

November 07, 2010 /
The sheer distance, free from the burden of present time./Fernando Pessoa (Ode maritima).

The Brion Tomb (1969–78) is a private tomb – "a city of the dead" – for the Brion family near Treviso, Italy. For the Brion Tomb, Scarpa established a new landscape within an old one, constructed a complex narrative out of startlingly fresh free-standing forms, and explored radical design and construction techniques to effect them.

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Gerald Zugmann
Born in Vienna. Graduated from the Graphische Bundeslehr- und Versuchsanstalt Vienna in photography. Freelance photographer since 1978, focusing on architectural and exhibition photography. Cooperation with Coop Himmelb(l)au sind 1978. Since 1995, he has dedicated himself to “the architecture of plants” and “artificial landscapes” (Twilight Project). He is currently lecturing architectural photography at the Department of Artistic Design of the Vienna University of Technology.

Website: Gerald Zugmann

(*)For Gerald Zugmann, photography is an autonomous artistic medium; and in order to make his artistic statement, he makes use of architecture in particular. For him, it is not a matter of producing documentary representations of built objects. Much more, he seems to shape architecture itself.

The forms of a building, which Zugmann has made reproductions of, no longer appears as merely that which the architect has bestowed upon it – it has become the form, which the viewer has bestowed upon the building. Zugmann’s very conscious selection of built objects and thus, their architects, allows him to form “his” architecture. In this way, he qualifies the individuality of each architect, so that the built object and its essential statement as interpreted by him remains in the foreground.
(*) Yet Zugmann’s architecture has a mutual individuality.
This is perhaps most easily found in the primal aspect of space, in his confrontation of built volume with the negative space surrounding it.
For Zugmann, both are equal, though he is limited to the two-dimensional photographic  representation of architecture, which nonetheless always appears spatial. This is similar to what Franz Kline said of his large format, black and white paintings, that his artistic work is comprised equally of the application of black paint and of leaving the canvas white.
Even though Zugmann does not alienate the architecture portrayed, it appears to us other than pure reality in light of his individuality. This otherness puts the architecture in a light which more closely relates to the original idea than the reality effectively built could possible do. In Zugmann’s images, anything which could point to temporality, to daily life or specific use, is faded out. He presents the perfect registration of his objects, free of chance.
Yet another essential aspect of Zugmann’s architecture is his monochromatic work: for him, architecture is fundamentally black and white. This limitation gives his images – his architecture – that special aura: the rediscovery of something which remains, something which one has always believed to know.
Irrespective of the objects he has chosen and represented, Zugmann’s photography has on the whole affected architecture retrospectively and thus becomes a creative act of architecture in itself.
/Carl Pruscha, Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna


The online exhibition shows parts of this photo essay. The essay was published first in “The Other City – Carlo Scarpa – Die Andere Stadt”, Ernst und Sohn Verlag, Berlin, 1989 and in “Gerald Zugmann. Architecture in the Box. Architectural Photography 1980 – 1995”, Springer Verlag Wien New York, 1995.

All photographs are Gelatin Silver Prints, signed and in limited editions.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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