Model Studies

Thomas Demand

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the German artist Thomas Demand has held an important position in the international art scene with his photographs and films, which reflect visual and modern culture as well as design and architecture.

Demand is known for his large scale photographs of three-dimensional models, made from paper and cardboard. His interest lies within buildings, interiors and other environments, recreated from images circulating in the media or in his own imagination. He constructs the models in life size, photographs them, and destroys them afterwards. The only thing left is an image of a past moment. There have been a number of seemingly familiar motifs in Demand’s work over the years; among others, a reconstruction of The Oval Office in the White House, a rendering of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris (where Princess Diana’s fatal accident occurred) and a recount center in Florida from the much debated US election in 2000.

With his series Model Studies, for the first time Demand turned his camera towards models that are not his own. During a residency at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 2011, Demand was introduced to the American architect John Lautner’s archive, in which he found twelve architectural maquettes of unrealised projects the architect designed. The models are old and bruised, they each have a biography of their own. However, Demand did not seek to present flattering representations of Launter’s final designs. Instead he depicted the models from various angles, in natural light and from such immediate proximity that the images arouse curious visual explorations – intimate and seductive – independent of the buildings to which they refer, but the objects they became.

“Architecture has always been in the centre of my attention, because it deals with utopias and ideas of a somehow better future” Demand once stated. Nonetheless, Demand’s investigation of Lautner’s models is not merely an architectural historical examination. The photographs can also be seen as documentations of an architect’s thoughts and quarrels. With their sculptural qualities, Demand – echoing his previous work with an abstract rigour – questions the medium as a faithful record of reality, in a search for the construction of new ways of understanding and perceiving the world through models.

We are glad to welcome Thomas Demand for his show at Avlskarl Gallery. Ten works from Model Studies are presented in the solo exhibition in Copenhagen, the first since his major retrospective at the Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk in 2003.

Thomas Demand was born in 1964 in Munich. Today, he lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin. Demand graduated from the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, and Goldsmith’s College in London. His solo exhibitions include shows at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Fondazione Prada, Venice, the Kunsthaus Bregenz, the Lenbachhaus Munich and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk. His work is represented in numerous museums and collections.