"Our models and experiments with materials are not works of art but rather a kind of accumulated waste." – Jacques Herzog
Herzog & de Meuron: Archaeology of the Mind presents an exhaustive display of materials from the architects’ archive and from related collections. Referencing a natural history, the exhibition includes study models, books, photographs, toys, fossils, Chinese scholars’ rocks, and significant works of contemporary art, all of which have informed the thinking of the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron.
Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (both born in 1950) established themselves at the centre of architectural discourse by taking positions that are essentially artistic. The process of collecting and organising materials has been at the heart of Herzog & de Meuron’s work since their breakthrough project for the Ricola Storage Building in Laufen, Switzerland (1986–87), and it continues in such projects as the Dominus Winery (1996-98), with its caged stones. The architects’ keen interest in archives and in the compilation of series was a central topic of art in the 1970s, examples of which are shown alongside the architects’ projects. The exhibition encompasses several hundred of their working models – ranging from very small to enormous full-scale material models. The latter, which are crucial to the Herzog & de Meuron’s design process, are exhibited here for the first time. Confronting these models are objects of ethnography, palaeontology, and paintings by Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol, photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff, and Jeff Wall, sculptures by Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, Joseph Beuys, and Alberto Giacometti, among others. Included are historic photographs, toys, and commercial catalogues from the CCA Collection, fossils from the Musée du Séminaire de Sherbrooke, and entomological collections from the Université de Montréal.
The exhibition is organised for the CCA by guest curator Philip Ursprung in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron. Ursprung’s lecture Close Encounters: Herzog & de Meuron en collaboration avec des artistes is available as a CCA Podcast.
A 460-page book, Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History, edited by Philip Ursprung and designed by Lars Müller, accompanies the exhibition.
Herzog & de Meuron: Archaeology of the Mind was also presented at the Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2003), the Schaulager, Münchenstein/Basil (2004), and at Netherlands Institute of Architecture, Rotterdam (2004).