Architect’s Cabinet (1997) uses the signature colours of the Gap clothing store’s Spring 1997 collection in juxtaposition with the van der Rohe house and the furniture design paradigms. The piece includes the de rigueur painting, an interior view looking out to surrounding grounds through ample window space. Surrounding the painting and painted over a reproduction of a cabinet originally designed in the twenties by Eileen Gray is a series of stripes coloured according to the Gap hues. Placing the colours of an “annual look” over this furniture design, Van Halm contests the timelessness, the permanent relevance, attributed to modernism by matching it to the fickleness of fashion. However, employing colours designed for retail commerce also melds commodity to modernity, an accurate but now overused method of deconstructing modernism. Simply connecting colour to modernism by rendering post-painterly abstract stripes actually forms a more effective comment on modernity, again by signifying its conceptual vacuousness through the astute metaphor of non-functioning drawers.
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A similar comparison of fashion and modernity occurs in Spring (1997), in which Van Halm covers faux-furniture with two military-inspired shades of green, which were popular in the 1997 fashion season. Van Halm allows these colours to carry further signification on the theme of content masked by form, therefore reiterating Architect’s Cabinet’s most effective assertion. Military-coloured clothing connotes camouflage, an insinuation surprisingly complementary to the transparency of glass. Glass and camouflage normally would be opposites, but when related to this house, they join, along with the represented furniture designs, to further a discourse on false appearances in modern architecture. Van Halm paints the glass windows to provide an illusion of openness or of public spectacle serving to camouflage the privacy domestic space typically signifies: the closed doors, the bathroom, as well as the concept of private property itself. Ironically though, at the time of the Farnsworth House’s design and construction, glass symbolized the liberalism of modernity through an open concept house.
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