Art and Architecture (Art vs. Architecture)
There has seemingly always been this debate between Art and Architecture. What defines Art? Is Architecture Art? Where is the line drawn between them? I would venture the problem with this debate is that it assumes that if something is beautiful, it is automatically defined as “Art.”
To paraphrase what spatial sculptor Richard Serra said in an interview in 2001, Architects are not artists; Art is purposely useless.
In other words, a building might be beautiful in its own way, and could be described as artful, but the building must still function purposefully and successfully. There is a point where this preoccupation for making Architecture into Art goes too far. If a building is too geared towards the “Art” of the structure, then it loses its ability to function as the building it was intended to be useful for. Or to put it another way, if the Architect fails to meet this functional need first, then any “Art” it might exhibit is not enough to make up for the fact that the building itself is a failure.
Now, even as I profess to be a follower of the mantra “form follows function,” I should make another point here.
All Architecture, even for private homes, NEEDS a sense of this “Art” that gives it both intent and individualism. This, in turn, increases not only the individual building’s worth, but also strengthens the surrounding area’s sense of purpose and value. Architects who do not strive for beauty, design, or “Art” in their buildings are only creating a bland, lifeless structure that will not invite people to engage within it, or to encourage people to maintain it. Since we began building buildings long ago, beauty has been an integral part of the form and details of the structure. It would be terrible to lose such an important part of Architecture, as this beauty can have such a strong and lasting effect on a building’s inhabitants.
It’s a difficult line to find, between Art and Architecture, but that’s why we train so hard to do it right.