Galerie XII Paris dedicates an exhibition to the German-Brazilian artist Mona Kuhn. After being presented in several museum institutions in the United States and then in Europe, the Kings Road exhibition is being presented in a gallery for the first time. Mona Kuhn invites the visitor to immerse themselves in the heart of the intimacy of the Kings Road House, a legendary experimental architect’s house designed by Rudolf Schindler in California. Through photographs, a video projection and a sound installation, the artist pushes the limits of photographic and architectural presentation. The opening of the exhibition coincides with the holding of the Paris Photo fair (from November 9 to 12).
After taking place on three floors of the Kunsthaus-Göttingen in Germany, during the exhibition organized by Gerhard Steidl in April 2023, Kings Road by Mona Kuhn is moving to Galerie XII. For over 20 years, Mona Kuhn has used photography and media art to re-examine the figurative discourse around physical and metaphysical presence in the human figure. Through her lens, she invites viewers to contemplate the subtleties of our existence, revealing the hidden depths of our common humanity. For her latest exhibition, “KINGS ROAD”, Mona Kuhn uses the subjects of love and destiny as her main subjects of study. The series takes place in the Kings Road House, built by architect Rudolph Schindler in 1922 in West Hollywood.
Kings Road, an architectural and social experience
The Kings Road House, made of industrial materials such as bare concrete, untreated redwood, Japanese-inspired sliding canvas panels or glass, is a model of radical architecture. Designed as cooperative living and working space for two young families, the project is also social. As soon as she crossed the threshold, Mona Kuhn was attracted by this Spartan residence, devoid of any ornament and built with raw materials.
A whirlwind of artistic, cultural and political creativity between the 1920s and 1950s, Kings Road House is a space focused on the future. Adopted by the avant-gardes, we meet intellectuals who fled Nazi Europe or Californian artists disturbed by the ambient formalism of society, such as Albert Einstein, Aldous Huxley, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Richard Neutra, Imogen Cunningham or Edward Weston. A diversity of profiles which are at the heart of the project of its creator, who dreamed of a house open to friends of all classes and all types, a democratic meeting place, where millionaires and workers, teachers and illiterates, the splendid and the ignoble, meet constantly. Today, the Kings Road House is considered the birthplace of American mid-century modernism.
The mysterious woman of Kings Road
By delving into Rudolph Schindler’s architectural archives, Mona Kuhn lost herself in his sketches, personal notes and private correspondence. A handwritten letter written to a woman whose identity remains unknown and in which he renounces his romantic aspirations becomes the gateway to his work. An opening which allowed this mysterious woman, embodying Schindler’s lover, to enter the house. As the woman moves through the villa, her presence partially blends into the bare walls and structures of the house. Through the use of solarization, an experimental photographic darkroom technique, Kuhn goes even beyond representation, giving it an almost metaphysical dimension. This ethereal process, first employed by the photo-surrealists at the time of the construction of the house, oxidizes the photographic silver in an unpredictable way, partially dematerializing the image. Mona Kuhn’s intention to push the boundaries of photography, architecture and conservation is palpable. By preceding the architecture with a living thickness, while dematerializing the human figure, the artist withdraws from our physical reality and designs a new story in which intangible spirits cross time and space, to meet again.
Mona Kuhn : Kings Road
From November 6, 2023 to January 13, 2024
Galerie XII Paris
14 rue des Jardins Saint-Paul