Thursday, November 28, 2013

The City at Night (Buenos Aires)

Becket, November 28, 2013

As far as I know, Horacio Coppola was the only Argentinean student at the Bauhaus. He was a pupil of the legendary photographer and teacher Walter Peterhans during the last years of the school, around 1932, when it was already in Berlin and under the direction of Mies van der Rohe.

When Coppola came back to Buenos Aires in 1936, the city was celebrating the 400th anniversary of its first foundation and offered the young photographer a perfect modern subject. In one of his best know photographs, he shows the city at night, with the "Calle Corrientes" as a gash of electric light cutting through the center of the image and culminating in the Obelisco, the monument at the intersection between Corrientes and 9 de Julio that had been finished only months earlier. In the foreground Coppola places the SAFICO Building, a 26-story modern skyscraper finished in 1934. Don't you think that Hugh Ferriss would have been blown away by the SAFICO? I'm no sure but I think that the photo must have been taken from the top of the COMEGA Building, another modern skyscraper finished in 1934 and located two blocks to the east.

In Coppola's photo, the widening of Corrientes street is almost complete, ready to turn into "Avenida Corrientes", one of the several thoroughfares opened at the time that introduced the speed of the car into the historic grid of Buenos Aires.

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