How to define art and architecture?

To define art in the simplest of words, one can say that art is the activity or the skill of producing things. However, at the same instance, art is much more than this simple definition. Art is something a person does. It is an expression of thoughts, emotions, and desires. It is a means of sharing an experience.

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Gale Seres Girl Walking_©

Architecture is the art of designing and building structures. Though the term ‘architecture’ is often coined as a scientific and technical practice, it is a form of human expression that is shared and interpreted. As quoted by the American entertainer, Dan Rice, “There are three forms of art, painting is the art to look at, sculpture is the art to walk around and architecture is the art you can walk through.”

Connection between art and architecture:

The association between art and architecture is a complimentary collaboration. Both of them share a blur yet an interesting relationship. A relationship that dates back to centuries ago, a relationship with a common principle: to communicate a mixture of complex thoughts. Art and architecture share a very unified relationship. It is quite strenuous to segregate the two from one another. There have been instances where artists have drawn inspiration from architecture and there have been occurrences where architects have influenced by art.  

The connection between the art and architecture can be traced back to centuries ago when civilizations adorned their structures with intricate carvings and murals. Reflections of same can been seen in Ancient Greek and Roman structures. The power of art and architecture to be an integral form of expression of ideas and experiences is not a new incidence. 

Art in architecture: 

Art has often served as a means for architects to shape their creativity and design philosophies. There multiple examples where architectural styles have either taken inspiration or have been influence by famous art movements. Jugendstil, Dadaism, Surrealism is just to name a few examples. One of them was De Stijl. 

Originated on 1917, by Dutch artists Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg, De Stijl means a style in Dutch. It was originally a magazine wherein Dutch artist published their ideas on art and abstraction. However, eventually it became a completely developed art movement emphasising a visual language consisting of geometric forms like straight lines, squares and rectangles and primary colours. 

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Piet Mondriaan Composition_© Artland Magazine

De Stijl in Architecture

The movement was a reaction against the terrors of World War I. The members of the movement had a belief that its art form had the power of transformation towards social and spiritual recovery. The movement’s influence in the field of architecture was such that it promoted the objective of using geometric forms and colours in simple, horizontal and vertical elements. 

One classic architectural example of this movement is Rietveld’s Schröder House designed by the architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, and built in 1924. The exterior is entirely made of white and neutral grey rectangular planes, with vertical and horizontal elements in shades of black, red, yellow and blue. 

The interior was designed to keep the entire floor plate open with no solid wall and use only siding partitions, making it flow into one space. All the walls are opened up through windows and doors, thus integrating the house with the surrounding environment. The interior is also done in the colour scheme associated with the De Stijl art movement. The flexibility within the space ensured that there was no hierarchy created within the space, keeping the design rooted in the principles of the movement. The house is the only building designed in complete accordance with the De Stijl style, with authentic ideas and colours.

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Rietveld Schröder House_© Maria Gonzalez

Architecture in art

Cafe Terrace at Night_©Vangogh Studio

Café Terrace at Night, Vincent Van Gogh

An exemplary example of the impact of architecture in art can be seen in the famous painting Café Terrace at Night, by the renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh. The painting also known as the Café Terrace on the Place du Forum is done in the Cloissonism style. In this particular form of style, the content of the paintings is painted flat and bold colours, delineated by dark outlines.  

This masterpiece was painted in 1888, using oil on canvas in France. As quoted by the artist, the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day. The painting is of an outdoor colourful view. The viewer gets to acknowledge the beauty and the liveliness of the surroundings without the presence of moral concern. The painting captures the artificially lit terrace of a famous coffeehouse, the rue du Palais and the tower of the church. 

The impact of this painting has been so magnetic, that even today tourists from every corner of the world are attracted to visit this small café hidden in the streets of France. The painting is now displayed in the Muller Museum in the Netherlands.

Collaboration of Art and architecture:

The instinct of integrating art within the built form exists consciously or sub-consciously since time immemorial. The early examples of this can be seen in the paintings done by the cave-men in their shelter. Be it a simple painting in a small living room, or an entire design being inspired from an art movement, art and architecture, when combined well can transform a space or a feeling irrespective of the scale. When collaborated well in harmony, both art and architecture have the ability to make the ordinary a little more than just ordinary.   



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