PIRANESI AT THE NEWLY OPENED BERLIN MUSEUM FOR ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING

Some images from the newly opened private Tchoban Museum for Architectural Drawing / Museum für Architekturzeichnung at Pfefferberg in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin, and from its first temporary exhibition, which is also meant to be an opening manifesto, ‘Piranesi’s Paestum: Master Drawings Uncovered.’

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Initiated by the Berlin- and Moscow based collector and architect Sergei Tchoban, and built by Tchoban and his partner Sergey Kuznetsov of SPeeCH studio, the museum exterior and interior literally took the form of a somehow twisted shrine – four closed blocks in colored concrete, casually piled upon other, and decorated with hieroglyph-like fragments of architectonic sketches, with a glass floor stacked on top. The building will provide a home for the Tchoban Foundation collection, which counts some 500 drawings, as well as for temporary exhibits from leading cultural institutions around the world. The museum has a floor area of approximately 490 square meters, and contains two receptions areas, two exhibition rooms and the museum depository. The first exhibition also wants to mark the museum’s celebration of tradition by presenting a collection from the Sir John Soane‘s Museum in London, one of the world’s oldest architectural museums, Sergei Tchoban was born in 1962 in Saint Petersburg, and already developed a passion for architectural drawing during his student years at the local Russian Academy of Arts. In 2001, the purchase of a drawing by Pietro di Gottardo Gonzaga in Berlin was the foundation stone for his collection. Since then, the collection has grown to include several hundred sheets from different periods: from architects of the 16th century to the present day, from Cerceau to Frank Gehry. At the end of 2009, the Tchoban Foundation was founded with the aim of keeping the interest in architectural representation through drawing alive and to support young talent in this field. Together with the founder Sergei Tchoban, Kristin Feireiss, founder of the Aedes Architectural Forum and Eva-Maria Barkhofen, director of the Architectural Archive at the Academy of Arts, Berlin, are the curational team. The museum’s new building is located at the western entrance to Pfefferberg from Christinenstraße, the site of the former brewery between Schönhauser Allee and Teuto- burger Platz in Prenzlauer Berg, and is a corner stone –some already say tombstone- of a prestigious gentrification of what once was a wild and very lively area.

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The museum opens its program with ‘Piranesi’s Paestum: Master Drawings Uncovered’. For the first time ever, fifteen drawings from Pirenesi’s ‘Paestum Cycle’ will be shown outside of London. The Paestum drawings were the preparatory work for Piranesi’s Différentes Vues de Pesto, finished by his son Francesco and published posthumously in 1778. They depict views of the three great Doric temples in the former Greek colony of Poseidonia, colonised by the Romans in the late sixth century BC and re-named Paestum. Paestum was particularly significant for Giovanni Battista Piranesi and for John Soane, two figures who were highly invested in classical architecture as a crucial source of inspiration for their eighteenth and nineteenth-century creative careers. Soane’s extensive art collection included Piranesi’s complex drawings of Paestum; Soane incorporated the pictures into his theatrical displays at his Lincoln’s Inn home and connected Piranesi’s own dramatic visions of Paestum with his revivalist architectural practice. Mortality, classicism, and theatre interlaced to create a framework within which Soane’s architecture reflected wider cultural concerns regarding death and antiquity. (mb)
Piranesi’s Paestum: Master Drawings Uncovered’Through August 31. Christinenstraße 18 A, Berlin www.tchoban-foundation.org.

Images: ©Roland Halbe

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