For architects and perhaps even laymen, the names Gaudi, Michelangelo, Calatrava are names we mostly tend to pair with just architecture, defining them only in the field of their study. However, another commonality amongst these great minds is their love for painting, the genius in the art these great painters share, the genius we ought to celebrate. For, architecture and art are intertwined forces that, when merged, create an equipoise that supersedes the critical controversies that exist – Isn’t architecture itself an art form? Is it merely a form of egotism? Does art truly impart individuality in architecture?

Leaving the first two questions to the fancy of debaters and philosophers, and to answer the latter – is art imparting individuality to architecture a reality or a myth – and explore those who not only pioneered architecture but also established themselves as world-renowned great painters, below listed are 10 examples of men and women as such-

1. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini

As a man to have garnered the comment “what Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture”, Bernini was a very prominent figure in the field of sculpting, painting, and art along with the immense recognition he received for his architectural masterpieces like the St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Italy, Palazzo Montecitorio and a remodel of the St. Peter’s Basilica. Besides the mentioned marvels, Bernini has sculpted ‘The Bust of Jesus Christ’ and ‘Blessed Ludovica Albertoni’ amongst his many pieces.

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The Fountain of the Four Rivers, Italy ©wikipedia.org
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Peter’s Square’s remodeled colonnades ©en.wikipedia.org
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Peter’s Square ©en.wikipedia.org
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Saint Sebastian Painting ©gianlorenzobernini.org
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Portrait of Pope Urban VIII ©gianlorenzobernini.org
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Self Portrait of Giovanni Bernini ©wikipedia.org

2. Steven Holl

As a New-York based architect and a renowned watercolorist, Steven Holl is one of the great painters and is best known for the 2009 Linked Hybrid complex in Beijing, China, the 2019 REACH expansion of the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2019 Hunters Point Library in Queens, New York. Endorsing watercolors as his signature expression, he continues to remind us of the importance of the simpler means of visualizations through his paintings of the Spiroid Sectors and the Hybrid Macro Program, both parts of The Edge of a City series.

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Bellevue Arts Museum, Washington ©wikipedia.org
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Kiasma, Helsinki ©wikipedia.org
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Bloch Addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ©wikipedia.org
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Spiroid Sectors from the Edge of a City, 1991 ©sfmoma.org
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Building Concept from the Edge of a City, 1988 ©sfmoma.org
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Steven Holl ©wikipedia.org

3. Giorgio Vasari

He was Italy’s great painters, architect, and writer, the kind who has been recognized to superlatively excel in each field. Vasari’s major works include The Vasari Corridor, the churches Santa Maria Novella, and Santa Croce paired with his most renowned paintings Six Tuscan Poets, Garden of Gethsemane, and Entombment to name a few.

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Villa Giulia, Rome ©wikipedia.org
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Pietro in Montorio, Rome ©wikipedia.org
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Alessandro de Medici Resting ©wikipedia.org
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Last Supper ©wikipedia.org
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The Garden of Gethsemane ©wikipedia.org
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Vasari’s Self Portrait ©wikipedia.org

4. Le Corbusier

A visionary writer, architect, and theorist, but lesser-known great painters, Le Corbusier was one of the pioneers of today’s modern architecture. Moving to Paris and taking ahead both his architectural career and artistic interests, he went on to paint the Nature Morte, Guitare Verticale while he designed buildings that spoke loads just as his paintings did through their abstracted nature. A few of his many renowned works include the city of Chandigarh, India itself, The museum of western art in Tokyo, Japan, and the UN headquarters.

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The chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp ©wikipedia.org
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The Villa Savoye ©wikipedia.org
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Nature Morte (still life) ©wikipedia.org
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Guitare Verticale ©wikipedia.org
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Nature Morte, 1920 ©wikipedia.org
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Le Corbusier ©wikipedia.org

5. Andrea Pozzo

Andrea Pozzo was an Italian architect, a Baroque painter, and a writer who boasted great success in each of the mentioned fields. His architectural work, though not all realized entirely, his work includes the S. Apollinaire church in Rome which was used for the Jesuit church of San Francesco Saverio (1700–1702), Trento, and the interior for which was equally designed by him. Pozzo was, however, more widely known for the frescoes he painted, giving life to the flat surfaces of existing architectural marvels.

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Fresco with trompe l’œil dôme painted on low vaulting, Jesuit Church, Vienna, Austria ©wikipedia.org
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The Painted Ceiling of the Church of St. Ignazio ©wikipedia.org
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Self Portrait of Andrea Pozzo ©wikipedia.org

6. Zaha Hadid

As a British-Iraqi architect who has given a whole new expressive identity to architectural geometry, Hadid is often referred to as the greatest female architect in the world today. A few of her most noted works are The London Aquatic Center for the 2012 Olympics, the MAXXI Museum in Rome, and The Beijing Daxing International Airport in China. While most are familiar with her architectural work, the dame is also known to have unique ideation when it comes to paintings and artwork like the concept art of The World (89 degrees) and Horizontal Tektonik.

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Phaeno Science Center, Germany ©wikipedia.org
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Guangzhou Opera House ©wikipedia.org
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Victoria City Aerial ©zaha-hadid.com
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Horizontal Tektonik ©zaha-hadid.com
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Zaha Hadid ©zaha-hadid.com
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Zaha Hadid ©wikipedia.org

7. Lebbeus Woods

As an American architect and artist known for his unconventional designs and works adopting a highly experimental nature, Woods has donated a significant amount to the architectural sphere despite being a visionary with majorly unbuilt works through his artistic facets.

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Geomagnetic Flying Machines ©archdaily.com
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Geomagnetic Flying Machines ©archdaily.com
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Conflict Space 3, 2006 ©sfmoma.org
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Biomechanical and Biodynamic Towers from the series Centricity ©sfmoma.org
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Conflict Space 4, 2006 ©sfmoma.org
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Lebbeus Woods ©wikipedia.org

8. Mies Van Der Rohe

As a world-renowned architect who believed in the juncture of art and architecture, Mies was one of the pioneers of modernist architecture and one of the great painters who practiced painting and other forms of art to stimulate, or as he posits its importance because art is always intrinsic to the built environment. Some of his major works include Farnsworth House, Seagram Building, and Westmount Square.

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Interior Perspective of the Administration Building, Santiago, Cuba ©com
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Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois, USA ©com
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Lake Shore Drive, USA ©wikipedia.org
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IBM Plaza, Chicago, USA ©wikipedia.org
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Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe ©wikipedia.org

9. Giulio Romano

Romano’s real name was Guilio Pippi, he was a whole lot more influential an architect than a painter. Adopting deviations from the High Renaissance classicism, he made immense impacts on Italian Mannerist Architecture. His major architectural works include Villa Lante in Gianicolo, Rome, Palazzo Maccarani Stati in Rome, and his most famous work, Palazzo del Te in Italy.

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Palazzo del Te, Italy ©wikipedia.org
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Deesis with Saint Paul and Saint Catherine ©wikipedia.org
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The fall of the Giants, fresco in Sala dei Giganti, Palazzo del Te, Mantua ©wikipedia.org
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Titian’s Portrait of Giulio Romano ©wikipedia.org

10. Michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, more commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, one of the great painters, and an architect who is deemed to have had unparalleled influence in the development of Western Arts. With some of his paintings ranking as the most famous in existence, so much so to have himself considered an equal to Leonardo da Vinci. With a majority of his architectural commissions unrealized of which The Tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo Medici, The Laurentian Library, and The Farnese Palace are to name a few, his legacy lives on through his art and envisioned architecture.

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Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra ©wikipedia.org
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Michelangelo’s redesign of the ancient Capitoline Hill©wikipedia.org
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Vestibule of the Laurentian Library ©wikipedia.org
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The Creation of Adam ©wikipedia.org
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The Last Judgment ©wikipedia.org
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The Doni Tondo ©wikipedia.org

Art and Architecture are two fields that model infinite permutations within and among themselves. The statement entailing that the practitioners of both the field quite often and even more enthusiastically so, involve themselves in the other. For example, artists like Yang Yongliang making abstracted architectural representations and architects like Le Corbusier painting and sculpting what would not be considered architecture otherwise. In fact, the visionaries who enjoyed successful careers in both fields are the living or rather, immortalized testimonies of the beautifully poetic balance that exists between Art and Architecture.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gian_Lorenzo_Bernini#Architecture
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Holl#Competition_selections
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Vasari
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Corbusier
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Pozzo
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaha_Hadid
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebbeus_Woods
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Romano
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelangelo#Architecture
Author

A student in the discipline of Architecture, who ardors macabre art and as one with many words to speak, he favors the others alike. He is also a strong believer in the authority of Mother Nature and perhaps, also the kind who romances with the abstraction of the ordinary.

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