'Luftwerk: Parallel Perspectives' visually transforms Mies' McCormick House with color and light interventions at Elmhurst Art Museum

  • Luftwerk's "Dimension of Color" is one of the pieces on display through Sunday, Aug. 25, at Elmhurst Art Museum.

    Luftwerk's "Dimension of Color" is one of the pieces on display through Sunday, Aug. 25, at Elmhurst Art Museum. Courtesy of John Faier

Submitted by Amanda Berrios
Posted8/14/2019 9:20 PM

"Luftwerk: Parallel Perspectives" is a site-specific exhibition that uses color and light interventions to activate and interpret the McCormick House at Elmhurst Art Museum, designed by Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition closes Aug. 25.

The installation by Luftwerk -- the Chicago-based artistic collaborative of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero -- heightens the senses and alters perception while celebrating the use of geometry in the midcentury prefab prototype.

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Color is central to the visual transformation of the home's architectural nuances, and largely inspired by an idea of the original developers Robert Hall McCormick and Herbert S. Greenwald, who offered to tint windows of their proposed prefab housing "almost any shade of the rainbow."

The installation includes several light and color works with static and dynamic changing color relationships, including an immersive light piece that transforms a bedroom in the home, neon pieces with mirrored effects, pulsing lightboxes, and colorful glass panes. The visual effects of color impact viewers' experiences throughout the McCormick House's domestic environment and shifts traditional spatial perceptions of the home while celebrating Mies' signs of the modular prototype for prefab housing.

This installation is the latest in the series of site-specific works at the McCormick House commissioned by the Elmhurst Art Museum on the occasion of its restoration, following David Wallace Haskins' Ascension/Descension and Assaf Evron and Claudia Weber current installations.

"Parallel Perspectives" is part of Bauhaus100, the global anniversary celebrations of the legendary German art school. It continues the artists' yearlong exploration of architecture by Mies, which began with the Barcelona Pavilion and will end with the Farnsworth House.


It is sponsored by contributors to Elmhurst Art Museum's Sustaining Fellows Soiree 2018.

About Luftwerk:

Since founding in 2007, the duo has created a significant body of work in which they explore light, color, and perception in immersive, experience-based installations. Focused on the context of a site for each project, Luftwerk applies their own interpretive layer, integrating the physical structure, historical context, and embedded information into each piece. They have developed projects for iconic buildings by architects including Renzo Piano, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe.

About the McCormick House:

In 1952, the renowned modern architect Mies van der Rohe designed a home for Robert Hall McCormick III, a member of Chicago's most prominent families, and his wife, the poet Isabella Gardner. The home is a rare and important example of Mies van der Rohe's mature style, incorporating elements of his celebrated designs for the Farnsworth House (1951) and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive (1951). The McCormick House -- one of only three single-family homes designed by Mies in the United States -- originally served two purposes: it was a home for the McCormick family and a prototype for a proposed group of smaller, affordable mass-produced modular homes in the western Chicago suburbs that McCormick and co-developer Herbert S. Greenwald were hoping to build. However, the cutting-edge, high-end buildings were not met with enough buyers to begin construction.

About Elmhurst Art Museum:

Elmhurst Art Museum is located at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave. in Elmhurst, 25 minutes from downtown Chicago by car or public transportation (Metra). The museum is both an international destination for Mies van der Rohe scholars and fans and a regional center where people from Chicago and the western suburbs learn to see and think differently through the study of the art, architecture and design of our time.

The museum is one block from the Elmhurst Metra station and open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 ($10 for seniors) and free for students and children under 18. For more information, call (630) 834-0202 or visit elmhurstartmuseum.org.

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