A New Los Angeles Exhibition Celebrates the Architectural Photography of Hélène Binet

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By Erika Heet / Published by Dwell
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The Swiss-French photographer—who shoots on film, a rarity in today’s digital world—receives the Julius Shulman Institute’s Excellence in Photography Award for her singular take on the works of Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, and beyond.

For 25 years, Hélène Binet has photographed the work of leading contemporary and historical architects, notably Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Peter Zumthor. Julius Shulman Institute’s Executive Director (and Dwell on Design Los Angeles speaker) Barbara Bestor and Managing Director Emily Bills recognize Binet’s singular vision and profound contribution to the field. Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award honors photographers who substantially shape an understanding and appreciation of the built environment. Past recipients include Grant Mudford (2014), Catherine Opie (2013), Pedro E. Guerrero (2012), Richard Barnes (2011) and Iwan Baan (2010).

Maxxi Diptychon, Zaha Hadid, 2009, silver gelatin print.

Co-curated by Binet and JSI Managing Director Emily Bills, Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light presents work that spans her career, including now-iconic photographs of Zumthor’s Therme Vals and Hadid’s Phaeno Science Center. Binet is represented by ammann // gallery, Cologne, Germany and the photographs on view in Los Angeles emphasize Binet’s meticulous use of analogue photographic processes."Binet is an advocate of using film over digital methods, developing exquisite prints that reflect a deep concentration on the production of each image," says Bills.

Firminy C, Le Corbusier, 2007, silver gelatin print.

Binet is fond of Louis Kahn’s quote "The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building." This exhibition features work that reflects Binet’s unique photographic imperative: emphasizing how a building’s atmospheric qualities are created through the interaction between structure and natural light. In this context, she is less preoccupied with the light needed to create a photograph and more with the photograph’s ability to articulate the revealing journey of light through a building.

Tate Modern Construction, 1999. Exclusive to dwell.com.

Binet’s photographs help us to rediscover fleeting moments of visual access, manifested in tightly cropped details. "The sense of the light, the sense of coming out of the dark, it’s something that stays very much in the way I photograph," says Binet.

Tate Modern construction, 1999. Exclusive to dwell.com.

Hélène Binet: Fragments of Light has been made possible by the generous support of ammann // gallery, Cologne, Germany. A reception and ceremony takes place Saturday, February 28, from 6-8 p.m. at Woodbury University’s WUHO Gallery. The show runs through March 29.

Kapelle fur den heiligen Bruder Klaus, Peter Zumthor, 2009, silver gelatin print.

Kolumba, Peter Zumthor, 2007, silver gelatin print.

Maxxi Diptychon, Zaha Hadid, 2009, silver gelatin print.

Rosenthal Center for Art, Zaha Hadid, 2003, silver gelatin print.