“Can we take art out of architecture? If we do so then what are we left with? Soulless buildings?”

Asks Gayatri Singh, director of the Gurgaon-based gallery ArtPilgrim. Arts and crafts are an integral part of architectural discourse. Almost all the famous pieces of architecture are the outcome of rapid schematic sketches that come directly out of the imagination of the architect. These sketches, paintings, and sculptures are a means for architects of self-discovery and expression, in a profession constrained by client requirements, budgetary limitations, and regulatory restrictions.

Here is a list of famous architects and architects artworks (other than architectural sketches) to induce a sense of inspiration and awe in you.

1. Zaha Hadid | Architects Artworks

The Pritzker Prize-winner architect used painting as a tool for architectonic expression. The abstraction seen in her paintings is translated into the fluid, and dynamic nature of her architectural work. Her artworks reveal her vision to do away with the dogmas of conventional architecture.

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Metropolis 1988; ©️www.worldarchitecture.org
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Vision for Madrid, 1992; ©️www.zaha-hadid.com
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Blue Beam, Victoria City Aerial, Berlin, Germany, 1988; ©️www.zaha-hadid.com

2. Le Corbusier | Architects Art

Pioneer of Modernist Architecture, the Swiss-French architect also explored the visual arts field of paintings and sculptures and also designed many furniture pieces. Initially fascinated with Cubism, he later renounced it to confound the Purist movement. The primary subjects of his paintings were ordinary, inanimate objects, stripped of all ornamentation, in their purest form. The deconstructed geometrical forms seen in his artworks have also impacted his architectural style. 

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Oil on canvas ‘Portrait of Yvonne Le Corbusier’; ©FLC / ADAGP
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Oil on canvas ‘Portrait of Yvonne Le Corbusier’; ©FLC / ADAGP
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Natural and polychromed wood sculpture ‘The Sea’; ©FLC / ADAGP


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Enamel work ‘Three women standing’, 1956; ©FLC / ADAGP

3. Frank Gehry

In the works of this deconstructivist architect, the thin line between art and architecture disappears. The sketches of his buildings have a quality of immediacy to them. The dynamism in his loose and tangled mess of lines is reciprocated in the weightlessness of his structures. In addition to the architectural sketches, his creative genius can be witnessed in his sculptures, colored fiberglass work, and lithograph prints, some of which he has produced individually and some in artistic collaboration with other studios.

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Lithographic work from the ‘Puzzled’ series; ©www.geminigel.com
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Lithographic work from the ‘Puzzled’ series; ©www.geminigel.com
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‘Untitled’, 2001; ©www.geminigel.com

4. Steven Holl | Architects Artworks

The architect uses watercolor as a medium to transfer his ideas to the paper. He uses the fluidity and flexibility of the brush strokes as his artistic muse which then manifests in the three-dimensional form. In a world that is fast embracing digital tools and simulation techniques, Holl’s traditional yet unique style of visualization inspires young architects to learn how much you can do with the simplest of means.

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The Rose that Grows In Paradise Is Blue; ©www.wallpaper.com
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White Bones Rotting in The Rain (reproduction); ©www.wallpaper.com
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Written in water; ©www.auctionzip.com

5. Santiago Calatrava

World-renowned for his sleek white, soaring design, the oeuvre of the architect includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, and ceramic works. In the words of Calatrava, “For me, it is important to engage with painting, sculpture, and also with ceramic, not only as independent disciplines but as incessant nourishment for my architecture.” He adds, “My sculpture precedes my work as an architect. To understand my architecture you have to know my sculpture. The point of departure for some of my buildings and bridges has been fed by the formal searching prompted by my activity as an artist, especially as a sculptor.

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The primary theme of his artworks- trees, bulls, and female nudes; ©www.calatrava.com
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The primary theme of his artworks- trees, bulls, and female nudes; ©www.calatrava.com
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Bronze sculpture;

6. B.V. Doshi | Architects Art

The first Pritzker Laureate of India uses graphic drawings to reveal the relationship between the tangible built world and the intangible history, culture, and traditions. His paintings give us a fable-like narration of the real India through the lenses of vivid colors and symbolic motifs. The purist nature of the drawings is reminiscent of his work with Le Corbusier.

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‘Encounter’ Acrylic and Mixed media on canvas; ©www.sothebys.com
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‘Fragments of a city’ Acrylic on canvas; ©www.sothebys.com
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‘Encounter’; ©www.archerindia.com

7. Lebbeus Woods

The visionary architect, artist, theorist, and educator is renowned beyond the sphere of architecture, for his drawings, which were not designed proposals, but experiments to explore the politics of architecture in a utopian world. His conceptual drawings raise a question on how humans will live in a world of crisis.

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“Berlin Free-Zone 3-2”; ©www.nytimes.com
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“War and Architecture 2-2”; ©www.nytimes.com
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“Inhabiting the quake”; ©www.nytimes.com
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“Zagreb Free-Zone”; ©www.nytimes.com

8. Satish Gujral | Architects Artworks

The multi-faceted architect has paintings, sculptures, murals, graphic designs, and writings in his oeuvre. The artworks of this modernist architect were influenced by the turbulence of his early years. He was an experimenter who did not shy away from using different styles and materials to convey his ideas. The Government of India honored him with “Padma Vibhushan” for his works that brought India on the world map of contemporary arts.

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“Mourning en masse”; ©www.nationalheraldindia.com
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Mixed media on canvas; ©www.saffronart.com
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“Raising of Lazarus”; ©www.christies.com

Idea girl & strong-minded, Kiran is an architecture enthusiast & sucker for words. When not reading, she can be found gorging movies & sitcom.