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The BMW Museum, Munich

Photo: Elizabeth Ellenwood

On a trip to Munich last year, I was mesmerized by this building, with its abstract shapes and light that seemed to veer dangerously off glass and slick steel. My eyes traced its beautiful modern lines over and over, searching for a way to capture its intensity. After walking the perimeter several times, I knew one or two images would not be enough; I needed to create a graphic-studies portfolio of the museum’s playful visual maze. 

Focusing on the basic elements of art — line, shape, form, texture — I found perspectives that allowed those details to interact dynamically. I looked for the repetition of geometric shapes and compression of forms to create a confusion of depth and scale in my compositions. While printing the photographs in the darkroom, I concentrated on the gradation of tones to re-create the feeling of the natural light bouncing off the contemporary structure.

In Building Study 3, the planes overlap one another in a way that makes you question which way is up and which is down. The negative space of the sky on the left becomes another shape that engages the viewer’s eye and continues the tetris feeling of the architecture. The repetition of triangles and lines throughout the composition creates a push-and-pull effect that some might find disorienting, a reaction that tests our expectations.

More images by Elizabeth Ellenwood, Building Study