25 August – 26 November 2021, ETH. Graphische Sammlung, Zurich

Curated by Dr. Linda Schädler and Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke

Jacques François Blondel (1705–1774), four bracket designs, c. 1737–8. Red chalk on laid paper, 210 × 255 mm. DMC 2226.3.

Cornices may seem a curious starting point for unpicking architectural history, but they were equally a curious, yet key target of attack for the modernists. The ultimate symbol of decadent and functionless ornament, both Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier struggled with how to strip these features away in moving towards a new architecture. Trusting therefore the ironic centrality of the cornice as an aesthetic statement, this exhibition attempted a reappraisal of that ‘underrated element’.

Philippe Starck (1949), Riverside Elevation, Canary Wharf Hotel, 1996. Crayon on wove paper, 287 × 415 mm. DMC 2762.3.

The presentation, jointly organised by the ETH collection of prints and drawings, Dr. Linda Schädler, and the chair of the History and Theory of Architecture ETH Zürich, Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke, focussed on the many incarnations of the cornice in art and architecture.

Peter Märkli, garden facade and plan, Haus Kühnis (klein), Trübbach, Switzerland, 1982. Pencil and coloured pencil on trace, 330 × 290 mm. DMC 2698.1.

For further reading on this project and its outcomes, see Maarten Delbeke’s essay The Edge of Architecture and the accompanying images from the Drawing Matter archive. The exhibition was reviewed for Drawing Matter by Cammy Brothers, see here.