5 artistic movements that have influenced architecture

5 artistic movements that have influenced architecture

As far back as history goes, art and architecture have always been interdependent disciplines. From the elaboration of the Baroque movement to the geometric framework of Modernism, the architects drew on the stylistic approaches, techniques and concepts of historic art movements and translated them into large-scale habitable structures. In this article, we explore 5 of the many art movements that paved the way for modern architecture, examining how architects borrowed their characteristics and design approaches to create their own architectural compositions.

The influence of Pop Art on architecture.  Image via Flickr user Ruth Hartnup |  Flickr user Noel Y. Calingasan (nyclovesnyc)Surreal rendering.  Image © Victor EnrichThe influence of Pop Art on architecture.  Image © Jamie McGregor SmithDe Stijl's influence on architecture.  Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Claude Truong-Ngoc+ 13

Jugendstil

The influence of Jugendstil on architecture.  Image via Wikimedia Commons |  Henry Townsend
The influence of Jugendstil on architecture. Image via Wikimedia Commons | Henry Townsend

Art historians have conflicting stories about the founder of the Jugendstil movement. Some believe that at the end of the 19th-beginning of the 20th century, the Swiss artist Hermann Obrist started the Jugendstil art movement in Munich, taking inspiration from the German art magazine. Die Jugend (German for: youth). Although the artist initially studied botany and history, it was his travels to the countryside and his intricate observations of organic forms and movements in nature that led to the creation of the style. Other historians explain that it was actually a group of visual artists, namely Georg Hirth, Peter Behrens and Otto Eckmann to name a few, who inaugurated Jugend in 1896 as a means of rebelling against the neoclassicism of art and architectural institutions. The main features of the Jugendstil included floral patterns, organically shaped lines, flora and fauna, landscapes and, most importantly, the harmonious relationship between man and nature. These characteristics were translated into architecture and furniture design as Art Nouveau, an international movement that highlighted organic lines, patterns inspired by nature, movement and the use of materials at the both technical and natural. Some of the earliest Art Nouveau houses were built in Brussels by Paul Hankar and Victor Horta, and featured elaborate patterns and intricate craftsmanship, blurring the lines between architecture and nature.

Dadaism

Influence of Dadaism on architecture.  Image © Alfred Stieglitz |  Harry Schiffer - realities: united
Influence of Dadaism on architecture. Image © Alfred Stieglitz | Harry Schiffer – realities: united

Deemed to be a “rebellious and revolutionary” art movement at the start of the 20th century, Dada art is said to have been first created in an artistic nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland, called “Cabaret Voltaire”, after many creators opposed to the war sought refuge in the country. The movement gained momentum from 1916 to 1924, mainly in Switzerland, Paris and New York, and featured works by notable artists like Hugo Ball (the founder of the movement), Marcel Duchamp, Hans Arp and Sophie. Taeuber-Arp, to name a few. some. Radical avant-garde artists wanted to ridicule war and capitalist culture, so they resorted to irrational concepts of art that emphasized humor and questioning authority and reality. through an “anti-art” approach.

Influence of Dadaism on architecture.  Image © Gili Merin |  Dadaist women artists
Influence of Dadaism on architecture. Image © Gili Merin | Dadaist women artists

This experimentation inspired architects like Otto Wagner, Erich Mendelsohn and Adolf Loos to rethink ornamentation, form and materials, and to create buildings that were totally different from what was being built at that time. Bruno Taut’s glass pavilion in Cologne, Germany, for example, broke the standard of architecture and design and was the first of its kind to use concrete with a prominent geometric glass dome. Kurt Schwitters, architect turned graphic designer, rose to fame for his avant-garde installations that he created in his own home, transforming the concept of domestic space into something completely different and unorthodox. Dadaism paved the way for many architects to rethink “traditional architecture” and was one of the first to inspire architects to look beyond architecture and see buildings as sculptures, launching movements like deconstructivism, one of the most controversial styles of architecture of the 21st century which features projects by Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry and Peter Cook, among many other big names in the field.

From Stijl

De Stijl's influence on architecture.  Image courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang
De Stijl’s influence on architecture. Image courtesy of Yun Frank Zhang

“We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than color, line and surface” – Theo van Doesburg. In 1917, the Netherlands-based De Stijl movement, led by painters Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian, wanted to highlight the ideal fusion of form and function. Much like Dadaism, the movement was also a response to the chaos of WWI. So they created a visual language made up of refined geometric shapes (often rectangles, squares and straight lines) and primary colors. Many believe that the movement and its principles also oppose the visual brilliance of Art Deco and find indirect inspiration from Cubism. De Stijl’s influence in the field of architecture helped inspire the launch of the International Style of the 1920s and 1930s, also known as Modernism. De Stijl’s use of essential shapes and colors with simple horizontal and vertical elements, as seen in projects like Gerrit Rietveld’s Rietveld Schroder House and Theo van Doesburg’s Café l’Aubette, allowed for flexibility and the transformation of space, which means that there were no hierarchical arrangements of rooms in floor plans, just independent plans that make up spaces according to the functions and needs of the user. In fact, the structural composition of the Schroder House has been the subject of study for many architects, artists and historians.

Pop Art

The influence of Pop Art on architecture.  Image via Flickr user Ruth Hartnup |  Flickr user Noel Y. Calingasan (nyclovesnyc)
The influence of Pop Art on architecture. Image via Flickr user Ruth Hartnup | Flickr user Noel Y. Calingasan (nyclovesnyc)

The Pop Art movement introduced a whole new approach to design, drawing inspiration from media, mass production and pop culture. The movement first emerged in the UK in the 1950s, when post-war economic and social conditions led artists to celebrate mundane and everyday objects and transform them into fine art. Fairly quickly, American artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein joined and pioneered the movement, replacing historical art with a dynamic, mass-produced, media-oriented visual realm. In terms of architecture, the movement inspired architects to break free from the linearity and modesty of Modernism and opt for structures that challenge what was considered “normal” at the time. Similar to the art approach, mass production and commercialism were central to architecture, pushing forward the use of technology, signalism, and mass consumption. Facades, interior spaces and public areas have become canvases of experimentation with light, color, irregular shapes and unconventional scale.

Surrealism

Surrealist influence on architecture.  Image via Flickr user Torrenega licensed under CC BY 2.0
Surrealist influence on architecture. Image via Flickr user Torrenega licensed under CC BY 2.0

Explained by the name itself, Surrealism explored the visual arts and literature as a means of “revolutionizing the human experience” through unconventional imagery. Invented by French avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire between WWI and WWII, surrealist art has grown into a movement that promotes the liberation of the artist’s mind and expression, creating what ‘they describe as alternate realities and exploration of the psyche. Surrealist technique and characteristics included distorted scales and perspectives, unconventional materials, and collective compositions and overlays. Since its rise in popularity, artists like Salvador Dali and Frederick Kiesler have profoundly shaped the architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. Whether through interiors that represent literal symbolic imagery, the use of trompe-l’oeil techniques to create the illusion, the iconic Endless House by Austro-American architect Frederick Kiesler or the Vitra Design Museum from Frank Gehry, the movement produced radical concepts of what architecture could be defined as.



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