From the marvellous in architecture to the photographic tale
Philippe de Gobert
Since Le Havre was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 2005, MuMa has invited around 20 photographers and video artists from France and abroad to support the way the reconstructed city of Le Havre is considered. This summer, the museum has invited Philippe De Gobert (1946, Brussels) for a major monographic exhibition inviting visitors to discover the unique dreamlike universe of an artist fascinated by modern architecture.. The exhibition combines De Gobert’s own photographs and scale models with archive documents that shed light on his references and inspirations. De Gobert sketches another face of Le Havre – a kind of disturbing double of the iconic city which has become a symbol of the Reconstruction – and invents an alternative narrative of its resurrection.
The artist first visited the city in the spring of 2018 and started gathering documentation on the work carried out by Perret and his disciples to rebuild the city. Back to his Brussels studio, he created scale models of Perret buildings « to understand how they work ». Here, however, the model is not an end in itself but a stage in the process of creating the artwork, which is the photograph. The artist photographs his models, sometimes from inside, then, reversing the process of miniaturisation of the world, he prints the photographs in large formats to recreate the models on a scale appropriate to the landscape, incorporating fragments of reality, either genuine or fake. This exhibition mostly composed of interior views and seaside landscapes evokes an imaginary version of Le Havre : silent, empty, and with subtle signs of human presence here and there.
This « photographic tale » is completed by a « self-portrait inspired by enthusiasm » of the artist. Through this exhibition combining scale models, documents, and photographs, De Gobert reveals his « highly personal take on architecture, from the perspective of the marvellous and Utopia », offering « a selection of milestones in the history of modern architecture ». In his imaginary museum, iconic modern buildings by Perret, Chareau, Le Corbusier, Melnikov, Libera, Prouvé, and others rub shoulders with the wildest architectural fantasies, like the Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval, the Hôtel Normandie of Oostduinkerke, or the Atomium of Brussels, etc.
Large photographic prints, architectural blueprints, models, toolboxes, and archives : by opening up his imaginary world and placing Le Havre in his personal poetic pantheon, De Gobert re-enchants the way we see Le Havre.
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2 boulevard Clémenceau
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