Meshing Art & Architecture

When I saw an article in American Lifestyle magazine entitled "Meshing Art & Architecture" I was expecting to see something about a building component done with some artistic flair, like a mosaic tile floor or a stained-glass window. But no, when I turned to the article I was surprised to see this image among others by architect and artist Christian Culver

Instead of being about artwork merged into architecture, it was the opposite. This work was about architecture being merged into art. In addition, this merging of art and architecture idea was being conveyed in several different ways.

The most obvious way was the use of interesting photographs of unassuming buildings or details of buildings. As I zoomed in on each of the images I was reminded of similar places that I had been. The power of the images allowed me to recall what the day had been like, the surrounding sights and smells, perhaps the feel of a gentle breeze on my face. After considering these images, I saw that the overall framework for placing the images and displaying them conveyed other architectural ideas - the notions of shape and form and depth. The colorful rectilinear shapes displayed depth by means of perspective and differences in light and shadow - almost like it was a painting of a three-dimensional space for the display of the individual images of architecture. In addition, the use of thin white lines not only adds overall interest to the piece, but also points out very specific relationships between the abstract world of colorful rectilinear shapes and the real-world images of architecture. In the architectural image at the bottom the line passes horizontally through the sill line of the upper level windows. On the photo above and to the right, the line passes vertically through the joint that separates one townhouse from the other. And as if all of this were not enough, we're treated to the abstract image of a female figure peering back at us through a translucent window in the arrangement of colorful rectilinear shapes.

Wow! What a treat! Architecture meshed with art in so many different ways. A work of art using architecture on so many different levels.

In contrast, there's this image.

I see an abstract painting or mixed media artwork of some sort. The composition has a regimented organization by virtue of an underlying grid, but there's also a sense of randomness. There are varying gradations of soft, muted colors, and a few bold splashes of bright color. There's an interwoven pattern of fine lines, like thread. All together - a lovely work of contemporary art.

But this is not an abstract painting or mixed media work of art, but rather a photograph of a building. A building in the process of being demolished. A building where the front facade has been shorn off, revealing the rooms within. When I realized this, my appreciation for the image increased dramatically. I was amazed to find that something that looked this good could have been derived from such a humble origin. And even more compelling was the knowledge that this artwork was not created - it just happened. It was right out there in the open for anyone & everyone to see.  Fortunately, there was at least one person who recognized it for what it was. The photographer set aside any negative feelings about what was before him and saw the raw beauty of the remaining image.

As the St. Louis Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts all demonstrate, architecture can serve admirably as the framework within which art can be displayed to its best effect. On the other hand, the two examples shown above demonstrate architecture doesn't necessarily have to be relegated to the role of being the frame, it can also be the painting.