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The French Connection –

100 years of Danish Architects at the French School of Archaeology at Athens

From December 5, 2008 to February 1, 2009

Over recent decades, Danish architects have achieved great international recognition for their pioneering building designs. Less known is the epoch-making work of surveying the archaeological sites in Greece, which Danish architects have carried out on behalf of the French School of Archaeology at Athens over the last 100 years.

The exhibition The French Connection marked the centenary of the Danish-French collaboration established by the architect Gerhardt Poulsen’s work at the French excavations on the island of Delos during the period 1908-11. On this sacred island, where Greek mythology has it that Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis, French architects had excavated sanctuaries, monuments and parts of the city. But the archaeologists could not themselves carry out the necessary measurements on the excavations, and this is where the Danish architects came into the picture. Their precise drawings and measurements formed the basis of later reconstructions of the ancient buildings.

Since 1908, 67 Danish architects and students of architecture have worked on French excavations over most of Greece. The main emphasis has been on the excavations on Delos and in Delphi, where architects such as Gerhardt Poulsen (1883-1918), Kaj Gottlob (1887-1976), Gregers Algreen-Ussing (b. 1938) and Erik Hansen (b. 1927) have been the main driving forces.

Drawings, Photos and Drawing Tools

The architects’ original drawings, photographs and drawing tools were used to tell the story of this Danish-French collaboration and of how the Danish architects’ sober, business-like surveys turned out in both a national and an international context to form the pattern for the registration of monuments from Greek Antiquity. The exhibition thus also documented the stylistic development undergone by the drawing technique over the past century – from a “painterly” style of drawing, in which reproductions of the surfaces under consideration were shown with shadowing, to a more sober “sterile” style of drawing in which only significant observations were pictured, partly with the use of signs.

The exhibition was arranged in conjunction with the Danish Institute at Athens and the French School of Archaeology at Athens and was arranged by curator Kristine Bøggild Johannsen in collaboration with the architects Gregers Algreen-Ussing and Erik Hansen.

The exhibition received support from the Augustinus Foundation, Carlsberg Foundation, New Carlsberg Foundation and Realdania.

Den franske forbindelse Danish architects at Delos, 1910-1911.

Den franske forbindelse Crete 1964.

Den franske forbindelse Architect Erik Hansen, Delphi 1980.

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