Learn Before Loving

Buildings that exude obvious grandeur — like New York's Chrysler Building or Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral — are easy to love. Buildings that seem ordinary need help — usually from historians — to explain their importance. So it is with Bauhaus (or "Modern") architecture and German photographer Irmel Kamp. To know Kamp's photography is to see the beauty of Bauhaus — the way its structures, put up in the early 20th century, were stripped of ostentation but also given enough form to feel unique. "Modern Architecture," Kamp's exhibit at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, is a sweeping look at Bauhaus buildings in Europe and Israel. Germany gave birth to Bauhaus' basic shapes, but Hitler's ascension prompted a diaspora of German architects, some of whom fled to Tel Aviv, where Bauhaus buildings began to flourish. Kamp spent six years, from 1987 to 1993, researching and documenting Israel's thousands of Bauhaus edifices. Her work helped inspire the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to give Tel Aviv's Bauhaus buildings special World Heritage designation. The buildings — once in danger of being neglected or even torn down — are now lauded. They've aged, though, and Kamp's photos aren't romanticized: Some buildings have graffiti. Others are festooned with residents' laundry or lower-level street signage. But there's no denying that the buildings Kamp photographed are beautiful. Her black-and-white images accentuate the buildings' shadows, curves, and textures. And the Patricia Sweetow Gallery, a raw space, offers the ideal environment to be enthralled by this architecture of the past.

July 23-27, 2013
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