Art is a tremendously diverse human pursuit engaged in the creation of visual, aural, and performed artworks that demonstrates one’s imagination or technical skill intended to provoke a certain emotion for it to begin a dialogue between the art and the person who can appreciate it. Thus, the fundamental purpose of art is to appeal and connect with individuals that open doors to unique interpretations and generate diverse perspectives. The forms and styles vary in method, subject matter, and aesthetic depending on the era of its production influenced by the political, cultural, and societal sphere. In architecture education, the art appreciation is really important.

“ Art does not exist only to entertain, but also to challenge one to think, to provoke, even to disturb in a constant search for the truth.” – Barbara Joan Streisand, Singer, and actress.

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The process of art appreciation ©

Art appreciation is an integral subject that has not received the limelight it deserves in architecture education – driven broadly by technical content. Architecture and art are the physical evidence that remains of ancient civilization and history that help us understand the dynamic conditions by looking closely at the work and critiquing using formalism theory solely based on the oeuvre of an artist or movement. There are two crucial objective aspects to consider; One being the principles of art – movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, contrast, proportions and pattern, and other being the elements of art – line, shape, tone, color, pattern, texture and form. They give a non-biased and comprehensive parameter to evaluate and constitute an opinion.

“Art has answers to many of the questions we weren’t brave enough to ask”- Atticus, poet.

Does the question now arise why art appreciation requires an emphasis on architectural education?

Architecture education is the coalesce of art and science that defines spaces not just in functional facets but aesthetically too that arouses a response from the person experiencing it. Hence an architect must understand how to integrate a sense of exquisiteness to contemporary built-environments that are driven extensively by their utilitarian needs. The decision to hang a particular painting on the wall or designing open space for a sculpture to breathe for it to excite a certain feeling or thought requires an understanding of its symbolic essence and creation which appears to have lost in translation as architects are no longer trained substantially in the understanding of the arts which can result in repetitive design forms that can get wearisome to witness. Similarly, when one looks at temple architecture, castles, fortresses etcetera of the bygone era still provokes a response due to its careful integration of scriptures, sculptures, carvings, ornamentations, and paintings into the built form that allows a creative maneuver of ideas. Therefore the process of initiating appreciation for the arts directs young prospective architects to be effective, vocal, and sensitive designers who acknowledge its value for one cannot imagine life devoid of art.

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Art is powered by Rahiem, Milton ©

“ The idea of beauty is the fundamental idea of everything. In the world, we see only distortions of the fundamental idea, but art, by imagination, may lift itself to the height of this idea. Art is therefore akin to creation.”― Leo Tolstoy, writer.

There exists a strong bond of vocabularies between the two; the art and architecture that initiate design strategies and solutions to complex geometry and form. The architecture education of appreciating the arts, therefore, augments critical thinking and admiration of artists and their body of work, improves the creative process and adaptability, it boosts confidence in exploring the representation of ideas in visual language. Thus art projects a stimulation of sophistication in simple thoughts, imagery, and materials that present effectual composition into the architectural design by graphical illustrations and writing.

Apart from developing skills to enhance design an architect must train their eyes and expand knowledge about the works of art and its value, differentiate original pieces from copies to satisfy the client’s need in a project and provide professional assistance in selecting the kind of produced artwork that would retrofit or magnify the character of space-making as society inclines by instinct towards appreciation of beauty and order. Lack of erudition in this subject can fail to address the inherent challenges in selecting, producing, and integrating any form of the arts that exhibit a reflection of culture and society in its current state of affairs.

“It has been said that art is a tryst; for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet.”

Kojiro Tomita, Scholar.

Beyond asserting its importance; one must understand it allows pupils a platform to originate concepts from their intuitiveness instead of imposing a forceful subject. Art requires that uniqueness in creation which is possible via learning by doing to explore its grammar and comprehend it. Furthermore, the arts add qualitative and quantitative value to life achieved by recognizing its existence in nature where these observations inspire to fabricate designs influenced by those found in nature for they teach an underlying matter regarding the meaning of humanity. Every individual entails the act of appreciation before any constructive criticism takes place to encourage them to release their inhibitions and let their minds expand with confidence and heart to be thoughtful and well-rounded human beings.

“Life is bigger than art where art depicts a way of life and reflects aspects that add value to it.”

Sumana Chowdhury, Artist and Associate professor, SJB SAP.

In conclusion, it is important for practicing and future architects to cultivate a sensitivity towards art appreciation and evolve its attributes in the design process to create an outcome in the built-environment as a collaborative effort with artists to consciously demonstrate allegorical expression on various realms in society. Thus art appreciation goes beyond understanding and identifying various factors, eras, movements, and styles of art; it enhances the character of a given space that determines a specific human behavior by deliberate definition of space conditioned by material and lighting as a product of rational thinking. This establishes the objective role of the subject in architectural education as a catalyst manifestation of creative brilliance in students that apply its core to their production of work.

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Art always finds a way to stay relevant, care to catch-up? – MET Museum, Instagram post ©

Subhay Baberwal, a practising architect at Taller-S and a visiting faculty at SJB School of architecture and planning, Bangalore. He is an art and culture enthusiast as well as a certified wildlife Eco-volunteer by the Karnataka Forest Department for activities regarding conservation, census, preservation. Furthermore, he is a poet and currently exploring his voice in architecture writing along with being a ghostwriter for mobile application, fashion collections and bloggers.