GÜNTER GÜNSCHEL | Freigeregelt
GÜNTER GÜNSCHEL ‘FREIGEREGELT’
Experimental plotter drawings of the late 1980s to 1991
Opening reception: Thursday 8 November, 6 — 8 pm
Exhibition: 9 November—22 December 2018
Betts Project is proud to present the gallery’s first exhibition in London devoted to German architect and artist Günter Günschel (1928 - 2008). The exhibition presents unique experimental computer and plotter drawings from the late 1980s to 1991. This will be Günschel’s first solo exhibition in the UK.
Günter Günschel, 1928-2008, was a German architect and artist. He worked on the margins of architectural conventions to develop unique processes of representation; his architectural drawing practice sitting alongside and in dialogue with his research on the innovation of structural form. The exhibition “Günter Günschel: Freigeregelt” is the most comprehensive presentation to date of Günschel’s rarely exhibited anaglyph diagrams and plotter drawings that were produced from 1988 to 1991. The material on show at Betts Project exemplifies how his work operated in and outside of the usual modes of architectural representation to shift into the domain of visual art.
Graduating in 1955, Günschel started his career undertaking studies on the vault construction, thinking about innovative materials and construction techniques, placing his research within the tradition of architect-engineers.
His system of concrete shells, which he experimented with in the 1950s, and were patented in 1957, represents a critical point in his career. In the same year, working with Frei Otto, he designed and built the City of Tomorrow pavilion for the Interbau International Exhibition in Berlin. In 1958 Günschel joined Yona Friedman and the Groupe d’Etude d’Architecture Mobile (GEAM) to conduct extensive research on geodesic cupolas. And a year later he developed a machine to manufacture inflatable houses which was exhibited in GEAM’s 1960 Amsterdam show. In the early 1960’s Günschel taught at the Ulm School of Design (HfG Ulm) in Southern Germany. Under the influence of chairman Max Bill, the school pioneered an interdisciplinary and systematic approach to design education referred to as the Ulm Model.
Following this period Günschel started to produce digital drawings, he was an early adopter of computational drawing technology in the 1980’s and became fascinated with mechanical drawing as an experimental drawing practice.
Günschel’s drawings are experiments mixing the rigorousness of geometry with the unabated ability to imagine. The early anaglyphic drawings, made in 1988, document his initial trials into semi automated art works made in an architectural context, showing Günschel’s first extensions of spatial form.
The works recall the 1950’s research that, like D-G Emmerich, Robert Le Ricolais, and Buckminster Fuller, pursued a dream of a light and mobile architeture.
In the following year his drawings began to incorporate his architectonic studies of wild landscapes; real and imagined. ‘Computerzeichnungen’ (1989) demonstrates the pressing, bending, and unfolding of the schematic grid into an abstract whole, and individual figurations become blurred as their forms are multiplied. Landscapes curve, and structures start to overlap, effacing their original forms creating new and imagined landscapes — clusters of trees, letter forms, or robotic bodies in combat. The compact structures show Günschel’s determination to locate a universal morphology of nature and architecture, and then to submit their imagined masses to additional experiments of incision, torsion or crystallisation.
During the 1990’s Günschel pushed his digital computer programs to the limit; aiming to unlock the expressionistic potential of his machines, breaking them from the default modes of operation in which they were originally devised in order to corrupt the spatial parameters inscribed within them.
The ‘Freigeregelte’ series of black and white line works, 1990-1991, were drawn using a computer controlled plotter which was deliberately manipulated with magnetic fields to make the plotter’s pen deviate from its pre-planned course and produce a graphic disassociated from the original programme. These works were inspired by Jean Tinguely’s machines from the 1950s, and exemplify Günschel’s ongoing desire to alter perceptive space and liberate architecture from the constraints of its so-called rationality. Günschel’s intentions became increasingly socio-political in their attempt to break down barriers of individual and collective life, attempting to align the common goals of engineers, artists, and architects as part of an ambitious utopian exercise.
Günter Günschel studied architecture at the Giebichenstein School in Halle (1947-1949) and then at the School of Architecture in Berlin. He was the author of numerous articles and books (notably Große Konstrukteure in 1966), and in 1968 he was appointed to the chair of experimental architecture School of Fine Arts in Brunswick. He built several university housing complexes between the 1970s (Wolfsburg) and 1990s.
His work has been internationaly exhibited and is part of private collections as well as of museum collections including MoMA New York; SFMoMA, San Francisco; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg; FRAC Centre, Orléans and Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.