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“Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves,” quoted Julia Morgan, a well-renowned American architect. The idea of art conversing with architecture or vice-versa isn’t something new. This ideology dates back to the roots of the profession, however, it has taken various turns in the process.
Both art and architecture form a medium of expressing our concepts and thoughts, both disciplines bring our imagination to reality, where one can only be witnessed with eyes but the latter lets you walk through it and experience every nook of the architecture. The two have a long history with each being intermingled with each other which can be seen through the ancient sculptures placed within heritage monuments. The close-knitted relationship can be seen in the works of great architects like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe.
The function of art within architecture doesn’t stop at ornamenting the rooms, the purpose is to accentuate the lustily intricate architecture and form a cohesive design. Every space narrates a story through the art forms and additions made to it. Let’s understand how this collaboration has strengthened over the years and the foundations laid by various architects and artists for this deep establishment.
Let’s go back to the roots and travel through the historic movements to understand how we’ve derived new-age design sensibilities.
The world of design originated during the era of the Industrial Revolution when machine production was at a surge. The period from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century had bid a farewell to the traditional designs and the design differences could be very well noticed in terms of the quality produced by machines.
A famous architect-artist, Antoni Gaudi then came into the picture as he caught the essence of art and translated it into a design language. This style was known as the Art Nouveau style of architecture which took inspiration from the natural forms of flora and fauna. This striking style still exists in the marvellous La Sagrada Familia and Casa Battlo.
The next movement was born after World War I. A more systematic approach to the theory of design and a balanced blend of art, architecture, and manufacturing could be seen in the Bauhaus movement which had the core intention to unify all the forms of art. The design was a result of complete art with painting, sculptures, crafts, and manufactured goods all blended within the architectural language.
“Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. Only then will their work be imbued with the architectonic spirit that it has lost as salon art. Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith,” quoted Walter Gropius.
The movement led by Walter Gropius was recognized as the Modern movement with great artists and educationists collaborating in Europe. This innovative school was later dissolved and the Nazi Regime in 1933 brought together artists trained by the Bahaus Movement to the United States.
Constructivism encouraged novel concepts and designs to be adopted while planning spaces resulting in highly utilitarian outputs. A mixed result of art taking inspiration from architecture was the project of reimagination of Tatlin Tower taken up by artist Ai Weiwei. The masterpiece paid tribute to the concepts of Constructivism.
There are several examples of art being embedded in architecture. Let’s explore the ideologies and schemes adopted in the design of these magnificently artistic structures.
B30 nestled in The Hague is home to art. This renovated atrium, placed as a core of the public space is a visualization of an artist’s mind. The creativity and striking features can be seen in the mosaic patterned flooring laid by Artist Rob Birza. The pattern takes inspiration from visuals in the artist's mind which is also referred to as ‘A Garden of Abstraction’.
A combination of concrete and precious stones in the correct proportions brings precision to the finishing– an architectural attribute. This is the perfect example of architecture guided by art.
There’s a clear inspiration present in each form of nature that exists. Walking on the same path and derived from Calgary’s natural dramatic landscapes is Brookfield Place. The design complements the magnificent backdrop bathed in natural light and offers a peek into the rocky landscaping of the city.
Apart from the public space aligned with landscaping, the building features artwork that offers insight into the cultural landscape. The arts demonstrated also establish a connection between urban living and nature.
One of the structures, whose beauty relied on an artist, is Rio de Janeiro’s Capanema Palace. The design is a collaborative work of artist Candido Portinary, landscape architect Burle Marx, and sculptor Bruno Giorgi. The art in architecture of this building brilliantly complements the spaces forming visually enticing zones filled with an artist’s essence.
Art doesn’t always have to be loud when placed in architecture and serving the perfect example of the same is the Black Room in National Congress, Brasilia. Artist Athos Bulcao presented his ideas in the most simplistic and abstract form composed of black granite. The overall play of white marble and black granite resulted in a graceful abstraction that’s subtle yet loud.
Another tall concrete structure elevating art and architecture to the peak is Torre on the grounds of Fondazione Prada. A design proposed by Rem Koolhas and his team follows a modern approach as evident from the white tower standing against the Milan backdrop. The main intent of the structure was to offer a space and flaunt the foundation’s art.
Each floor speaks a different story with hand-picked installations presented in the spaces. The building takes you to the artistic mind present inside the Prada world.
Neither architecture nor art can prove to be fruitful on their own. A collaboration of the two injects emotions into a space that enhances the user experience and at the same time, completes the design. A single painting can be enough to fill a room, similarly, a painted picture of a building can knit the entire canvas together.
As stated by Frank Lloyd Wright, “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization.”
Art and architecture offer experiences that promise to touch your soul and speak to your mind through the power of design. An artistic experience is all it takes to shape emotions and establish a new meaning of architecture.
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