image, exhibition, scholarship
Spring Term Architecture Event

Uneasy Collaborations: Rudolf Wittkower and Helmut Gernsheim

Tuesday, 26 January 2010
17.00 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

circular staircase viewed from ground
Helmut Gernsheim. St Paul’s Cathedral, Circular Stair (1947)

Speaker(s): Professor Christy Anderson (Department of Art, University of Toronto)
Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission
Organised by: Dr Christine Stevenson

This lecture explores the collaboration between the photographer Helmut Gernsheim and the architectural historian Rudolf Wittkower, then head of the Fototeca at the Warburg Institute, London, during the early 1940s. Gernsheim was hired by the Warburg to document important buildings for the newly formed National Buildings Record and for various publications including the exhibition catalogue British Art and the Mediterranean (1948).
Through their work together, he and Wittkower forged an important, though ultimately fraught, partnership. Wittkower ’s growing interest in English Baroque architecture, and in particular in what he called its ‘isolated balanced surface patterns’ needs to be seen in the context of Gernsheim’s distinctive approach to these buildings. Gernsheim’s own fame has been based primarily on his later work as a collector and historian of photography. Yet he was active as an architectural photographer throughout his long lifetime, and through various publications his work reached a wide and influential audience.

Christy Anderson is Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She previously taught at Yale University, University of Warwick, Oxford Brookes, Open University and was a Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. She completed her PhD: Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Dept of Architecture. Previously her main research was on Inigo Jones, which appeared in a book published by Cambridge University Press: Inigo Jones and the Classical Tradition (2006). Other publications include the Oxford History of Art volume on 'Renaissance Architecture', due out in 2010. More recent work has been in two areas: one, on the history of architecture materials in European Renaissance architecture - titled, for the moment, 'Fusible Stones and Solidified Juices: The Meanings of Materials in Renaissance Architecture'. And the second, which is the source of these events at The Courtauld, on the collaboration between the historians and the photographers in the making of architectural history.

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