Many architects were greatly influenced by different artistic styles and movements. The theoretical discourses that happen in the world of art and architecture are intertwined which is then reflected in the world we live in. 

Below is the list of 15 famous artists that inspired architectural marvels:

1. Wassily Kandinsky

The Russian painter, born in 1866, investigated how the use of color affects people. His paintings did not have a need for a specific subject, but in an abstract way conveyed a range of emotions. Didden Village designed by MVRDV overwhelms us with color. The essence of the building is its colors, which certainly evoke emotions in the perceiver. 

Wassily Kandinsky - Sheet1
Wassily Kandinsky Squares with Concentric Circles ©wikipedia.org
Wassily Kandinsky - Sheet2
Didden Village by MVRDV, Rotterdam, Netherlands ©mvrdv.nl

2. Piet Mondrian

“Art is higher than reality and has no direct relation to reality”1. This quote by Pier Mondrian expresses the utopian character of his work. He is one of the most famous painters and theoreticians of the 20th century, distinguished by his figurative and abstract style. The Eames House constructed in 1949 by Charles and Ray Eames is directly influenced by Mondrian’s art. The resemblance is clearly visible in the use of volumes and colors. 

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Piet Mondrian ©wikipedia.org
Piet Mondrian - Sheet2
Eames House ©archdaily.com

3. Theo Van Doesburg

He was a Dutch painter strongly influenced by Piet Mondrian and a leader of the De Stijl movement. His work uses horizontal and vertical objects in a variety of colors to create a geometrical abstraction of nature. There is a resemblance between his modern paintings and the plan of the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe. The placement of walls and columns relates to Theo’s spatial representation. 

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Theo Van Doesburg ©lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com
Theo Van Doesburg - Sheet2
Barcelona Pavilion ©www.archdaily.com

4. Aubrey Beardsley

English illustrator, who was a part of the Art Nouveau movement and was strongly influenced by Japanese woodcuts. His poster-like drawings made from black ink often depicted grotesque and erotic scenes. Paris metro entrances designed by Hector Guimars bear resemblance in the use of curvatures and ornamentations. 

Aubrey Beardsley - Sheet11
Aubrey Beardsley ©wikipedia.org
Aubrey Beardsley - Sheet2
Paris metro ©wikipedia.org

5. Kazimir Malevich

He was an avant-garde Ukrainian artist who incredibly influenced the development of abstract art in the 20th century. He developed a concept of Suprematism, which placed attention on the importance of pure feeling and expression that moves away from the natural world. Strongly influenced by him was Zaha Hadid who followed spatial freedom and used geometric forms to frame a narrative. The resemblance to Malevich paintings through the dynamism of form can be seen in the design of the government building – Port House which is located in Belgium. 

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Kazimir Malevich ©wikipedia.org
Kazimir Malevich - Sheet2
Zaha Hadid ©wikipedia.org

6. Georges Braque

Georges Braque was a French painter, associated with Fauvism from 1905, and considered one of the main characters in the development of Cubism. His paintings depict objects from many perspectives and angles to capture their essence. Habitat 67 is a building designed by Moshe Safdie in Montreal, Canada. The cubist approach is evident.

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Georges Braque ©wikipedia.org
Georges Braque - Sheet2
Habitat 67 ©wikipedia.org

7. Pablo Picasso

One of the most famous painters in the world, who influenced many artists and architects in their expression of form. He is considered a co-founder of the Cubist movement that explored objects from many dimensions. The work of Daniel Libeskind resembles Picasso’s work in its dynamism and use of geometric shapes. A multimillion-dollar expansion to the Royal Ontario Museum is a great example of this influence.

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Pablo Picasso ©tate.org.uk
Pablo Picasso - Sheet2
Daniel Libeskind ©wikipedia.org

8. Joan Miro

This Spanish artist, famous for his sculptures, paintings, and work with ceramics, represented in his own style reinterpretation of Surrealism. His interests in the subconscious mind are reflected in his work. Inspired by his work, the architect Josep Lluís Sert, designed a studio of Miro’s dreams 

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Joan Miro ©wikipedia.org
Joan Miro - Sheet2
The Sert Studio ©wikipedia.org

9. Claude Monet

Claude Monet was a French painter associated with the Impressionist movement, which expressed one’s perception of nature. A few of his most famous paintings depict water lilies. Inspired by his work, was the Jacques Ferrier Architecture Office. They designed the headquarters of Métropole Rouen Normandie that uses small colored glass panels to achieve the impressionist quality of the building. 

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Claude Monet ©wikipedia.org
Claude Monet - Sheet2
Métropole Rouen Normandie ©inhabitat.com

10. Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock was an American painter, who used the drip technique to express his abstract expressionist ideals. His paintings were often created horizontally which allowed him to approach the canvas from all sides. Dominique Coulon & Associates took inspiration from Pollock’s art when designing the Conservatoire of Music, Dance, and Dramatic Arts located in France. The outer walls present huge geometric volumes, splattered with paint.

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Jackson Pollock ©Pollock-Krasner Foundation. ARS/Copyright Agency
Jackson Pollock - Sheet2
Conservatoire of Music, Dance and Dramatic Arts ©cladglobal.com

11. Katsushika Hokusai

Known plainly as Hokusai, this Japanese artist was famous as a printmaker and ukiyo-e painter. His most famous woodblock prints depicted the natural beauty of Mount Fuji. Inspired by his work, SANAA designed the Sumida Hokusai Museum. The use of angles and aluminium panels reflect changing local scenery in a similar way to Hokusai’s tale prints.

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Hokusai ©wikipedia.org
Katsushika Hokusai - Sheet2
SANAA ©de.wikipedia.org

12. Salvador Dali

He was a Spanish artist who created Surrealist artwork and is renowned for his technical skills and bizarre and astonishing work. Designed by the HOK group trapezoidal Salvador Dali Museum in Florida was inspired by the work of the artist.

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Salvador Dali ©wikipedia.org
Salvador Dali - Sheet2
Salvador Dali Museum ©arch2o.com

13. Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp was a French-American artist, who was a master of conceptual art and is associated with the Dadaist movement. The Ghost House designed by Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s use of aphorisms: A Guest plus A Host equals A Ghost.  

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Marcel Duchamp ©wikipedia.org
Marcel Duchamp - Sheet2
Ghost House ©uk.phaidon.com

14. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous painters. She was born in Mexico and her work is inspired by her country. Her style explored questions of identity, gender, race, and class. Rivera House Studio was designed by her friend Juan O’Gorman. It was designed in a functionalist style, with Frida Kahlo art as an inspiration.

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Frida Kahlo ©wikipedia.org
Frida Kahlo - Sheet2
Rivera House Studio ©architectontheroad.com

15. Paul Klee

Paul Klee was a Swiss-German artist who was greatly influenced by Surrealism, Expressionism, and Cubism. He experimented a lot with color and his work reflects his humor and childlike reasonings. Zentrum Paul Klee was designed by Renzo Piano, to achieve harmony with nature, which is coherent with Klee’s philosophy. 

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Paul Klee ©wikipedia.org
Paul Klee - Sheet2
Zentrum Paul Klee ©inexhibit.com

Image Sources: Image 29 – Paul Klee © wikipedia.org

Image Sources: Image 30 – Zentrum Paul Klee © inexhibit.com

Quotes:

  1. Seuphor, Michel (1956) Piet Mondrian: Life and Work. New York: Abrams: 117
Katarzyna Czapiga
Author

A graduate from the Architectural Association with an interest in urban studies and public spaces that actively change and influence the neighbourhood. Her area of research focuses on the development of European metropolises and the way the architectural theory impacts their design.

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