♢ EDITORIAL by Sal McIntyre, New York ♢
October is Architecture and Design Month in New York, our eighth annual so-called Archtober— a busy time for celebrating everything there is to love about an age-old popular pursuit. Much crossover exists between the worlds of Architecture and Fine Art, sometimes with painters cutting their teeth in design schools or vocations, sculptors working with large scale industrial materials that often blur the lines between building and sculpture, and with architects branching out from a creative impulse that began perhaps with paintbrushes or clay. As is such, one finds an intrinsically graceful, balanced and expressive nature in the best architecture, being invented by creators who are natural artists no matter which way it is seen.
Richard Serra’s large abstract geometric sculpture designs have an uncanny way of helping to define the buildings that present them. Functioning as more than just flair, the distinctive forms and the pure scale of the work often serve as a magnificent contrast to the right angles, box shapes and straight lines that beg for a compliment. This signed piece Blindspot shows his effortless work lending casual freedom to a glowing old industrial space, and highlighting its inherent beauty.
Christo’s visionary and groundbreaking work is given intricate care in this signed mixed media piece that has been hand altered with fabric and a needle and thread. Wrapped Building Times Square is a clever diorama-like representation of this infamous installation, numbered from an edition of 200.
Leonardo Da Vinci, mastermind of engineering, invention, draughtsmanship and also representational painting, is an early inspiration to many a modern architect or artist. He had the best of the worlds of creativity, mechanical functionality and shimmering artistry, traits that emanate with breathtaking clarity from everything he did. Even this note-taking on Grecian columns Details Grecs, Bases et Chapiteaux displays his combination of proficiency and spirit.
In this large 1976 silkscreen Finland is Building an unknown artist finds a lyrical way to show both a love of architectural form and the process of building itself. This nearly abstract representation of the activity and the aesthetic are further glamorized by way of the attractive moody silver paper on which it is printed.
In a signed piece by photographer Thomas Ruff, No Title (Bathroom, Radisson SAS), his brilliance with tone, color and ambiance are quite remarkable— printed on 250g Arches Velin paper and watermarked Edition Copenhagen, this work features a sophisticated luminous color quality and is a rare, hard to find work from a limited edition of 100. Its ability to describe light and the magic created when casting across simple elegant spaces or details is what makes this image sing.
Le Corbusier— the Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture— is another time-honored champion, whose career spanned five decades and inspired many a following creative. Chapelle de Ronchamp is exemplary of his charm and freedom from inhibition, and Villa Savoye, Four Elevations has an inexplicable je ne sais quoi about it, a testament to his inescapable good taste despite relative simplicity.
This vintage French advertisement Union Francaise d'Ameublement is made by Havas Conseil, the first French news agency dating back to 1835, now one of the largest global advertising and communications groups in the world, headquartered in Paris. The artsy sketch has a distinctively retro feel, especially with the limited yet confident color palette. Certainly things like the Mad Men TV series must have referenced style like this.
Bernhard and Hilla Becher reinspire endless stars in the eyes for the basic beauty of old architecture and construction, making their personal photographic expressions reflect nothing more than simply rows of these picturesque objects, so to speak. With Half-Timbered Houses and Water Towers, especially in their black and white printing, an austere level of reverence is achieved.
And this fantastic landscape from The Rare Book Room references “A Jones and Newman’s Pictorial Dictionary of New York, 1848”— an unusual, classic and historic exposé of some of New York’s architecture. The lovely illustrations are rich with nostalgia, characteristic of this wonderful city.