Architecture’s Corollaries

On the first page of her book Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thorton writes: “The contemporary art world is a lose network of overlapping subcultures held together by a belief in art.” I would argue that the field of architecture operates in a similar manner. The quote could easily be recast:

The contemporary ARCHITECTURE world is a lose network of overlapping subcultures held together by a belief in ARCHITECTURE.

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Over the course of the last 5 weeks we did readings about the shifting nature of curatorial practice. Jean-Louis Cohen introduced his observation that curatorial practice has shifted from one that was preoccupied with traditional documentation strategies to one that comingles with artistic practice in the sense that the curator has their own original messages to construct using the medium of the art and production of others. The definition of a curator overlaps with the definition of an artist.

We also took a cross section through the art world using Thorton’s book and through the weekly lectures we examined “architecture’s corollaries” to the elements and entities that comprise the art world. In doing so, we came across an art venue, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum designed by the contemporary architect Frank Gehry, which is a building that formally (physically) and culturally, resides at the intersection of art, architecture and technology. When the museum opened in 1997, it quickly developed into a “symbol” and had a drastic effect on the worlds of art and architecture; and as an economic and sociological model. It jolted a Spanish city back to life.

Architecture has often taken on symbolic meaning in the past—civic, cultural, and religious institutions make this an obvious statement. In Bilbao, Gehry created a symbol using architecture that transcended traditional typologies and brought the discipline of architecture closer to the discipline of art—formally, the museum appeared as if it were art, at a rather large scale.

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