Metabolic Studio Public Salon
Paulette Singley
Friday, November 20, 2009 @ Noon
Free Admission

The Construction of Space in Bacon’s Painting and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Architecture

Dr. Paulette Singley will present new research that develops the comparison she drew between the Francis Bacon’s painting and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s architecture—in her essay “Hard to Swallow: Mortified Geometry and Abject Form (Eating Architecture, 2004)—into a probative speculation regarding the role of figure and field in the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and contemporary digital production of space.

After Bacon visited Berlin in the Spring of 1927, he returned to London and began work as an interior designer to the extent that he produced rugs, tubular steel furniture, and an “international style” interior milieu. The Studio Magazine published his Queensberry Mews studio in its August 1930 issue as "The 1930 Look in British Decoration." Concomitantly, Mies served as was the director of the Bauhaus from 1930 until the school's closing 1933 in Berlin. While Bacon and Mies form likely anitpodes of irrationalism and rationalism, their interior spaces nonetheless betray a conspicuous affinity for corporeal materiality. They both explore within their work the generative potential of figural bodies inscribed upon abstract fields. Gilles Delueze has identified this tension within Bacon’s painting, observing an “absolute proximity,” a “coprecision, of the field that functions as the ground, and the Figure that functions as a form, on a single plane that is viewed at very close range.” (Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, 9). Similarly the statues of female figures within Mies’s architecture suggest considering the figure and the field through the lens of Bacon’s interiors. Within their work abstract space folds in upon itself through the orifice of the body producing spaces that are at once figure and field. The tension between figure and field forces a powerful spatial involution that characterizes digital production in contemporary architecture through the morphology of the squid.

Paulette Singley teaches in the School of Architecture at Woodbury University in Los Angeles, California. She co-edited Eating Architecture and Architecture: In Fashion and has been published in Log, ANY, Assemblage and several critical architectural anthologies. She received a Ph.D. in architectural history and theory from Princeton University, an M.A. in the history of architecture and urbanism from Cornell University, and a B.Arch. from the University of Southern California.