‘Bas Princen. Image and Architecture’ at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery presents a selection of lyrical architectural photographs by Bas Princen that explore the historic relationship between architecture and material culture. The Dutch photographer and artist, who trained as an industrial designer in Eindhoven and studied architecture in Rotterdam, has made a name for himself capturing the experience of architecture and place through photography.

Known for his focus on the places where architecture meets the urban and natural landscape, Princen takes images that are extremely powerful and poetic – this exhibition at Vitra presents him foremost as an artist, rather than an architectural photographer.

Featured in the exhibition are his historical portraits of places including Italian Renaissance buildings, a gargoyle atop the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the first Crystal Palace in London, the New York skyline of the 1930s and the home that architect Robert Venturi built for his mother in Philadelphia amongst other unique and curious corners and details of the built environment across the world.

Detail #6 (View of the New Yorker, Ilse Bing, silver gelatin print, 1936, collection CCA, Montreal), 2018. Photography: Bas Princen

Princen explores the relationship of architecture and image – trying to capture and understand how a building can transition from three dimensions into two, and it is through this lens that he examined architecture found and documented in material culture across the world, photographing it again, reframing architecture within objects almost like the process of reflection of a mirror in a mirror.

He photographs wall paintings and tapestries, tracing the historic relationship between photography and architecture, and the human instinct to document and create visions of our manmade world. This exhibition shows how he is becoming part of this concept himself, showing his large-scale photographs printed on Japanese rice paper, a technique that Princen has developed over time, to allow the images to exist as objects within the very material culture that he investigates.