Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer

Gordon Watkinson

324 meters (1,063 feet) tall, 7,300 tons of metallic framework, 18,000 metallic parts joined by 2.5 million rivets, 1,665 steps – built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris the Eiffel Tower instantly became a sensational public attraction. Originally meant to last 20 years the remarkable structure continues to fascinate and remains one of the most iconic buildings in the world.

Only three years prior, in October 1886, the Statue of Liberty had been officially inaugurated in New York. Conceived by French architect Bartholdi with the collaboration of Eiffel who designed its internal iron structure, the Statue – 46 meters (111 feet and 6 inches) from her heel to the top of her head, 225 tons, 154 steps – became an unbroken symbol of freedom and an exceptional destination for visitors.

Nearly a century after Eiffel’s death these two unique landmarks still dominate an extraordinary career. A groundbreaking engineer who pioneered new prefabrication techniques, Gustave Eiffel (1832–1923) was a master of metallic design. His appeal was universal, his technical knowledge and precision as well as his management skills highly sought after.

Created by US artist Gordon Watkinson, with contributions from major experts in the field, the exhibition Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer will take the visitors on a journey through the work of Eiffel, emphasizing the role and presence of his enduring legacy in 21st century life.

Sample Photos

Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer Gustave Eiffel: Artist, Architect, Engineer

Gordon Watkinson

Gordon Watkinson was born in 1964 in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA). Watkinson borrowed a camera for a photography class he took at the age of 24 while attending Virginia Commonwealth University (USA). Although he had never previously thought of photography in a serious way, after completing the course his professor saw enough in his work that he encouraged Watkinson to reconsider his career choice and arranged for him to begin working as a photographic assistant. Watkinson’s subsequent work as a commercial photographer spanned a broad range of clients from the fields of advertising, architecture, design, and fashion. In conjunction with his photographic work he has directed commercials, made industrial videos, and worked directly with major corporations as well as specialized brands, helping them to develop visual strategies for targeted markets.

Over the years he developed a strong sensitivity for both forms and materials, which has shaped his visual language and strengthened his fascination for holistic minimalist design. During a trip to the Bauhaus School in Dessau/Germany in the late 1990s Watkinson was introduced to the role of design as a solution to social issues. This became the catalyst for an intense and ongoing interaction with architecture, design, and urbanism, leading to a series of projects that visually and conceptually explore major architectural shifts and their relevance in today’s society.

Watkinson’s work has been exhibited and published internationally. In addition to his exhibitions Watkinson regularly lectures and teaches workshops in major museums and educational institutions in the USA and Europe (most notably at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo/Norway, and at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar/Germany). His work is in the permanent collection of the German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt/Germany and in various private collections.

Edward Berenson

Professor of History and Director of the Institute of French Studies at New York University, New York

Barry Bergdoll

Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York

Richard Seth Hayden

Architect, Partner of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, New York

Bertrand Lemoine

Architect, engineer, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris

Bernard Marrey

Author, founder and director of the Éditions du Linteau, Paris

Caroline Mathieu

Chief Curator and Curator of the Architecture Department at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Anne Vermès

Founder and director of Traits d’Unions, Nangis


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Original photographs by Gordon Watkinson (inkjets prints mounted on aluminum):
A total of approx. 80 – 100 photographs
26” x 34” / 66.04 x 86.36 cm
34” x 46” / 86.36 x 116.84 cm
42” x 58” / 106.68 x 147.32 cm
Facsimiles of plans and drawings: approx. 15 to 20
Space Requirements: 4000 – 6000 square feet / 400 – 600 square meter
Security: Limited
Participation Fee: Upon Request


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Foto+Synthesis offers the following educational opportunities with artist Gordon Watkinson:

Telling a Story: Photography & Architecture

2 day-workshop for middle and high school students as well as college and graduate students
Participants will learn how to use a series of photographs to illustrate a personal vision while developing an awareness of the local built environment.

Anatomy of a Photo Project

1 day-seminar for university photography & art students, or/and general audience
Participants will learn how to develop a photographic project, from conception through planning for its realization in book or/and exhibition form.

Guided tours of the exhibition with Gordon Watkinson

Guided tours of the exhibition with artist Gordon Watkinson for targeted audiences (general, children, high school students, art/photography/architecture/design students, architects, etc.)

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Available from Fall 2016 in Europe

Available from Fall 2017 in North America

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Alongside the exhibition Foto+Synthesis will produce a companion publication for the museums and for the trade.

Specifications to be announced.

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© 2015 Foto+Synthesis