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“Real Estate” at Berman Combines Art and Architecture

The exhibition runs Sept. 15 through March 18.

Architecture is art. From the monumental to the ordinary and from the historic to the derelict, the architectural spaces that we construct, visit, inhabit, socialize, or work in are more than structures. They signify history and within them dwell politics, shared memories, and the fabric of everyday life.

Fifteen artists explore varying aspects of real estate’s vernacular — buildings, rooms, structures, monuments, properties, and homes — and what each can say about society in Real Estate: Dwelling in Contemporary Art, an exhibition running from Sept. 15 to March 18 at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art on the Ursinus College campus.

“The intersection of contemporary art and architecture has a discernable prevalence over the last half-century of art making,” says Charles Stainback, director of the Berman Museum and the curator of Real Estate. “Viewing the diverse selection of artworks in dialogue with other works in the exhibition emphasizes the long-held notion that architecture is an art form itself; maybe the greatest.”

The exhibition showcases a constellation of sculptures, photographs, paintings, works on paper, films and videos from the 1960s to the present day that engage with expressions of architectural space. It takes its cue from a rich history of 20th-century art concerned with architecture in its myriad forms, as well as our collective awareness of the infinite variations of building types.

Real Estate includes miniature metal models of historical sites of disaster; digitally composed photographs of impossible buildings; a “map” of the National Mall, composed of 173 jars of paint; artist Ed Ruscha’s seminal building-by-building documentation of Los Angeles’s Sunset Boulevard; and other new and historical works that speculate on the junction of architecture, art, culture and environment.

The exhibition features works by 15 international contemporary artists and artist collaborations from the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Venezuela. They are: Bernd and Hilla Becher; Max Becher and Andrea Robbins; Constantin Boym and Laurene Leon Boym; Francis Cape; Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler; Lucy Gunning; Patrick Jacobs; Gordon Matta-Clark; Michael Mergen; Luis Molina-Pantin; Ed Ruscha; Kate Shepherd; Jan Tichy; and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Public programs include a series of conversations between exhibiting artists and Ursinus faculty members, highlighting both the interdisciplinary nature of the artwork on view.

The Berman Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Mondays. Admission is free. —By Ed Moorhouse