Art & Architecture
Sculptural art and architecture have forever belonged together.
Since humankind first begun creating shelters, we have been imbuing our abodes and spaces with soul and meaning – beautifying and decorating our dwellings and habitats with varied forms of sculptural art. From the most primitive cave dwellings, to the ancient cultures of East and West and more recently, the European Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, the legacies of the enduring unions between such sculptural art and architecture have ensured ancient and more recent beauty, story, memory and meaning lingers through the centuries and continues to enhance our existence today.
St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy, demonstrating the importance of art in historic buildings.
Yet in the early 20th century, architecture and the built environment became increasingly guided by technology and science. Poetic, spiritual and humanising additions such as sculptural art were discarded and the buildings themselves, through shapes, forms, voids and solids, were considered the art work.
But removing sculptures from such a historically central role in architecture and the built environment has contributed to an impersonality and visual impoverishment in so 20th century cities. Too often the environments where we live and make our homes are characterised by anonymity and neutrality. This is made worse by the fact that buildings have become real estate with commercial value which requires standardisation and the qualities of poetic, spiritual and subliminal beauty— universally admired in the most magnificent and invaluable structures of the past — have become marginalised.
It is sadly rare today to find architecture and sculptural art united in any but the most tentative and hesitant way. But we owe it to ourselves to question the story we are writing if our homes, our spiritual places, our buildings and urban contexts – continue to become nothing more than vessels of functionality telling stories of commercial value and conformity. We need to ask ourselves what legacy we creating for present generations or leaving for those who will come after us.
Already, so many modern urban built environments feel alienating, hostile and overwhelming. So many public and government buildings feel authoritative, inaccessible and dehumanising. It’s easy to blame the cost factor or negative attitudes of unsympathetic clients, but the fact is that the absence of sculptural art impoverishes humanity now and into the future.
There is no debate about whether contemporary architecture benefits enormously from incorporating artistic content to personalise buildings and spaces and provide scale-giving and psychologically benevolent factors.
All the research illustrates without doubt that the easily accessible medium of sculptural art provides a welcoming, enduring and sustaining sense of place and belonging allowing us to experience our existence more deeply, and meaningfully.
There are so many reasons art should be included in architectural planning. Just some of these include describing a building’s function, imbuing a space with a spiritual quality of enlarging a space by creating illusion, containing a space by creating focus, conferring status, converting neutral spaces into one suited for a particular ritual (such as shopping), establishing cultural links, recovering memories or values of the past or creating values for the future, allowing timelessness and even simply demonstrating wealth.
Clearly, the role of sculptural art in architecture and the built environment needs to be reinstated. And blessedly, this responsibility lies with architects, developers and landscape specialists. These professionals are endowed with the vision, talent, expertise and artistic insight to ensure that sculptural art is re-integrated purposefully and meaningfully into humanity’s habitats for the benefits of present and future generations.
In the words of LeCorbusier, the famed French architect who represented a movement to integrate art and architecture:
“You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces: that is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good. I am happy and I say: ‘This is beautiful.’ That is Architecture. Art enters in…” (Towards a new architecture 1927)
If you are looking to incorporate sculptures into your personal or professional spaces including housing and unit developments, offices and shopping centres, homes, hotels, schools or hospitals or similar please contact us – we’d love to help you.