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Luis Barragán’s iconic architecture recreated in evocative photography exhibit

Artist James Casebere uses “constructed photography” to capture the Mexican architect’s elusive work

Interior shot of a yellow corridor with pale wood floors and window cutouts through which light comes through and casts shadows on the opposite wall. At the end of the corridor are a bright blue and red walls.
 Yellow Passage, 2017
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

Legendary Mexican architect and Pritzker Prize winner Luis Barragán’s work continues to enchant, a phenomenon fueled in part by the fact that his extensive archives are locked in a fallout shelter beneath Vitra’s headquarters in Switzerland.

With even access to photography of Barragán’s iconic buildings severely limited by Italian architectural historian Federica Zanco, who controls the archives, enthusiasts of his exuberant and enigmatic modernist structures can hardly experience their power short of traveling to Mexico.

There is another option, however. American artist James Casebere has recreated a few of Barragán’s work in miniature and then photographed them in large-format in an exhibition on view now at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York.


Vestibule, 2016
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York

Titled “Emotional Architecture,” in reference to the architect’s philosophy of creating spaces that evoke serenity, the show comprises “constructed photography” of Barragán’s corners, corridors, and spaces that have been “pared down to their essential forms,” according to the gallery, and aim to capture the lighting and atmosphere the Mexican master is known for.

The reconstructed spaces include Casa Gilardi and Casa Barragán in Tacubaya, Mexico City, all built using everyday materials, allowing Casebere to “explore Barragán’s sumptuous use of color, dramatic light and simple haptic, planar surfaces” through photographs that invite viewers into “ambiguous, evocative, and, on occasion, unsettling environments.” Emotional Architecture is on view until March 11.

Yellow Overhang with Patio, 2016
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York
Empty Studio, 2017
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York
Reception Room, 2017
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York
Library, 2017
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York
Courtyard with Orange Wall, 2017
© James Casebere, courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York
Installation view of James Casebere: Emotional Architecture at Sean Kelly, New York
Photography by Jason Wyche, Courtesy Sean Kelly
Installation view of James Casebere: Emotional Architecture at Sean Kelly, New York
Photography by Jason Wyche, Courtesy Sean Kelly
Installation view of James Casebere: Emotional Architecture at Sean Kelly, New York
Photography by Jason Wyche, Courtesy Sean Kelly