Disegno: Mastery and Uncertainty

19 January – 9 February 2018, Université Catholique de Louvain

What is the locus of control of design? Although there are many possible answers to this question, drawing is inescapable. Even so, a host of other questions emerge. For instance, if drawing is the locus of control, then what is the ‘work’ of drawing, what is its productivity? To what extent is the medium the message? How should we navigate the dialectic between the slowness of iterations in physical drawing and the instantaneity of the machine? Are we witnessing the ‘Death of Drawing’ (Scheer, 2014; see also the Yale symposium of 2012)? Is there a shift in the cartography of the discipline? How have schools managed recent changes? Is the profession fundamentally different now? And how should architectural theory adapt to drawing’s evolving status?

This conference/exhibition sought to continue the dialogue opened over the past two decades about the roles of various dispositifs, ranging from the draftsperson’s mind and body (Pallasmaa, 1996) to the ‘distributed intelligence’ supported by both manual and electronic means, both hard and soft wares.

The choices Drawing Matter made for its exhibition cover a broad historical and stylistic territory. Our objective being to interrogate the drawing as design or representational ‘work’, we were mostly focused on drawings that bore traces of their fabrication. From the 16th to the 21st century, from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to Peter Märkli, we chose ‘hot pairs’ of drawings that spoke to each other on different terms. For instance, the pairing of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau’s Circular fortified château, 1565, and Peter Eisenman’s House VI, 1972, initiates a dialogue around ideal geometries that stretches across four centuries. On the other hand, a coupling of photo-collages by Mies van der Rohe tells a story of beginnings and endings, or before and after, that in a way summarises his long career.

Peter Märkli, Sophiaskirche Konstantinopel, c.1990. Ballpoint pen on trace, with white tippex, 270 × 310 mm. DMC 2699.1.
Circle of the Sangallo Family, Illustration to Vitruvius Book III, Chapter 2, c.1530–1545. Pen and dark brown ink on laid paper, 150 × 250 mm. DMC 2939 r.
Peter Eisenman (1932), House VI: colour axonometric, 1972. Black ink, coloured ink, and adhesive vinyl on mylar, 609 × 609 mm. DMC 1280.
Jacques Androuet du Cerceau the Elder, Design for a circular fortress or fortified chateau, 1565. Black chalk, pen and black ink, grey and brown wash on vellum, 406 × 640 mm. DMC 1030.1.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), Glass Skyscraper Project (no intended site known), c.1922. Silver gelatin print, 393 × 293 mm. DMC 1295.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), Mansion House Sqaure Project, City of London, 1981–1986. Colour Photograph, 300 × 405 mm. DMC 4732.
Charles Robert Cockerell, Plan of the Parthenon, Athens, 1813. Pen and black ink with pencil and grey and orange wash, 820 × 480 mm. DMC 1407r.
Hector Horeau (1801–1872), Design for converting La Madeleine to an omnibus office, 9 April 1871. Pencil, pen and ink on reverse of title page of publication by Horeau, 615 × 450 mm. DMC 1968.2.
Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841), Design for a pilaster capital for main floor Tilebein House, Sulechów, Poland (formerly Stettin, Prussia), 1806. Black ink and wash on paper, 625 × 1060 mm. DMC 1853.6.
Massimiliano Soldani, Untitled, c.1700. DMC 2941.2.
Le Corbusier (1887–1965), Model fragment, Olivetti Centre, Milan, 1962. Tempera on cardboard, 113 × 89 × 51 mm. DMC 1440.
René Herbst (1891–1982), Exposition Internationale de la Rayonne, 1950. Paperboard, wood and plastic, painted, 65 × 650 × 65 mm. DMC 1469.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), German Building Exposition, 1931. Photograph, 170 × 230 mm. DMC 1088.
Photograph of the exposition hall. DMC 1088.