Sverre Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion in Venice is a masterpiece in postwar architecture. The young Norwegian architect won the competition in 1958 and the building was inaugurated in 1962. Through six decades the beloved structure has been mired in phenomenology, poetry and the personal memory of the select. When one looks at the archives, a very different story emerges. In minute detail, this book presents the history of the origins and making of the Nordic Pavilion, spanning from the geopolitical context in an increasingly tense cold war atmosphere, to the aggregates in the concrete of the audacious roof construction, to the iconic trees, many of which had already died before the second exhibition in 1964.
Sverre Fehn, Nordic Pavilion, Venice. Voices from the Archives documents the vast cast involved in the making of the Nordic Pavilion, spanning from kings, prime ministers, bureaucrats, ambassadors, museum directors, architects and a myriad of artists’ associations, to Venetian dignitaries, engineers, gardeners, lawyers and plumbers. The pavilion was conceived and built against a backdrop of friendships and animosities, power play and diplomacy. The detours and disappointments, successes and failures of the Venice affair make a prism in miniature to understand the mindset and conflicting ambitions of the Nordic countries in the 1950s and 1960s. Richly illustrated with previously unpublished images – among them many photographs taken by Fehn himself – the archival evidence also sheds new light on one of the great Nordic architects of the recent past.
Available from May 2021
Author(s): Mari Lending, Erik Langdalen
Design: Aslak Gurholt, Martin Asbjørnsen