The aesthetics of brutalism

We show architectural photographs by Gregor Zoyzoyla from February 7 to April 30, 2020 in the foyer of our brutalist library building at Universitätsstr. 33 in Cologne. You are cordially invited!
Extended until 25/09/2020

About the exhibition

Under the direction of the Stuttgart architect Rolf Gutbrod, the building for the University and City Library of Cologne was completed in 1966: with a usage area, an administrative wing and probably the most famous component, the honeycomb-clad magazine cube, it stood for the avant-garde at the time.

It is not only in Cologne, with the university library, the Church of St. John XXIII in Cologne-Sülz or the Cologne University of Music and Dance, that important buildings of Brutalism can be discovered. They are spread all over the globe and polarize like hardly any other architectural style of post-war modernism. The Frankfurt photographer Gregor Zoyzoyla travels to those concrete buildings in Belgrade, London, Marseille or Cologne and, with the assiduousness of a believer, documents the raw beauty of their staircases, facades and brutalist details. His pictures of sacred buildings and public institutions convey the search for a radical new beginning in society, which still surrounds brutalism as an aura today.

Some of Gregor Zoyzoyla's pictures can be seen simultaneously in the German Architecture Museum on the occasion of Gottfried Böhm's 100th birthday and he will also dedicate a photo showcase to Böhm in our exhibition.

About the artist

Already during his studies of geography Gregor Zoyzoyla developed a great interest in exploring urban spaces and capturing their function, aesthetics and meaning for the inhabitants of the city in photographs. He is particularly fascinated by the tension between the original visions of the planners of that time and the later evaluation by users. Over time, Zoyzoyla's image details and scenes shifted from larger sections to more and more detail, and thus architecture moved into his focus. He was particularly fond of the buildings of Brutalism.

Gregor Zoyzoyla has already exhibited his paintings in the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt, the Barbican Centre London, the Breidenbach Studios Heidelberg and in many small, self-organised exhibitions. He is also involved in many small projects. For example, in cooperation with the Association for the Protection of Monuments and Landscape, he organized a photography tour with the art achievement course of the Europagymnasium Wörth to explore and appreciate his own school building - naturally in the style of Brutalism. This commitment has contributed to the fact that the school building is now listed as a historical monument.
Gregor Zoyzoyla bei der Sendung "titel thesen temperamente"

Invitation to the vernissage

Friday, 7 February 2020, 18 o'clock, free admission!

  • Welcome | Dr. Hubertus Neuhausen, Director of the University and City Library of Cologne
  • Welcome | Gregor Zoyzoyla, Photographer and city planner
  • Short presentation | Felix Torkar, architectural historian | „Memorability as an Image“: Brutalism and its vividness
  • Short presentation | Tobias Flessenkemper, Rheinischer Verein für Denkmalpflege und Landschaftsschutz | Midcentury, Brutalism & Postmodernism: A future for our architectural past

See also the corresponding Facebook event of the exhibiting artist Gregor Zoyzoyla


Foyer of the University and City Library of Cologne, Universitätsstraße 33, 50931 Köln

Opening hours

Concrete:Imagination - The aesthetics of brutalism
from 7 February to 30 April 2020 (extended until 25/09/2020)

Monday to Friday from 9 to 24
Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 21

Important note

If you do not have a library card or UCCard, please contact the staff and indicate that you wish to visit the exhibition. You will then pass through the entrance barrier free of charge.

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