IN HIS LEGENDARY German pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe kept his spaces bare, pairing prototypes of the celebrated Barcelona chair and matching stool he designed with Lilly Reich with one other object: Der Morgen, Georg Kolbe’s 1925 sculpture of the goddess of dawn, which was reverently stationed on a small pedestal in one of the two reflecting pools flanking the building. This juxtaposition of high-modernist design and the classical female nude would become a recurring motif within Mies’s interiors, with coquettish statuettes from colleagues such as Wilhelm Lehmbruck and Aristide Maillol tucked into the boudoirs of many of the homes he designed. In the context of a world’s fair, however, the representation of a woman’s body carried a specific connotation as an allegory for Mother Nation. A mainstay of nineteenth-century nationalist
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