What an interesting series of free exhibitions at this totally unique institution on the Euston Road. This latest one is probably my favourite so far - even beating the show last year about teeth. It’s a rag-bag of architectural plans, paintings, maquettes, pages from books - all organised around the theme of buildings that promote health.
To give a couple of examples that stood out to me: a beautiful 70s plan of Milton Keynes (that was the future, once), a Pissarro landscape of Bedford Park in Chiswick - the first garden suburb of all, where the artist lived for a time - and Andreas Gursky’s Montparnasse tower block photo, that I first encountered at the Hayward last year.
Image credit: Tate
My favourite series of all - again, not the first time I’d seen it, but another work lifted by the context - was Rachel Whiteread’s Demolished series.
In the 90s, a bunch of council estates in East London were blown up, as the very first tremors of gentrification radiated east of Upper Street. Whiteread lived in Dalston at the time, and used these rather mournful black and white photos to memorialise the explosions.
As so often with this artist, there’s an icy detachment from the real world, that renders the familiar new and strange. In this case, a violent event - literally an explosion - becomes something stately, grand and remote.
I really can’t get enough of them - or of this show in general.
Living with Buildings: Health & Architecture is at Wellcome Collection (London). 4 October 2018 – 3 March 2019