Mies van der Rohe collages go on show in New York

Previously unseen mood boards in Cut 'n' Paste shine a light into inspirations behind seminal works

Collages have been somewhat dumbed down in recent years by the plethora of interior designers producing ‘mood boards’. These can sometimes amount to little more than  sticking a few images from a back copy of Wallpaper* magazine on a piece of card, to reassure uninspired clients that they are in good hands.

But at MoMa in New York, the fine art of the architectural collage is being rediscovered and trumpeted. Before everyone switched to computers, this was the best way for a creative to present his or her ideas. And some went to enormous lengths.



In the show, Cut 'n' Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City, thoughtful pictorial and graphic renditions are on display from illustrious practitioners including Mies van der Rohe, Rem Koolhaas and from that most avant-garde of architectural groups formed in the 1960s, Archigram.

“The ethos of collage shapes every aspect of contemporary culture, from the glut of signs and images to the many layers of digital information to the art of sampling,” say the exhibition’s organisers. “This installation revisits early uses of collage to trace its evolution as both an aesthetic technique central to architectural representation and a cultural practice of layering, juxtaposition, and remix that configures the city.”


For curator and practising architect Pedro Gadanho, it’s about putting collage in the context of the modern world – hence pairing up Mies' photo-collages with telling and experimental examples from the fields of graphic design, film and photomontage. “In today’s architecture digital renderings. . . collage has become omnipresent via Photoshop and similar software, although often in a seamless form that tends to hide the fact that the images are collage-based.” Cut ‘n’ Paste runs until December.



If you'd like to go further and learn more about the work and world of Mies van der Rohe you really should check out our book Mies van der Rohe At Work. It's an in-depth study of 28 of Mies's most important buildings, including the Seagram Building, the Barcelona Pavilion and the New National Gallery in Berlin. The book analyses Mies' structural and spatial concepts, three building types and his urban spaces through extensive photographs, plans and statistics and devotes a section to the architect as educator, both at the Bauhaus and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Check it out in the store now.