Critical Thinking

Introduction and finally as an architect at which

Introduction

In this essay
I will examine the quote ‘To create one must first question everything’ and in
relation to that how two art movements had its differences and similarities,
yet those holds true to its principles and values to create a distinct style. The
quote stated at first are the words of this Irish architect and modernist
designer Eileen Grey. She was a prominent figure in modern architecture during
the 20th Century. Eileen Gray began her career as lacquer artist,
then a furniture designer and finally as an architect at which the industry was
lead mostly by male designers who were members of different movements such as
De Stijl. But she remained independent during this period (Espegel, C, 2007). She
was known as ‘mother of modernism’ during late 1920’s and early 1930’s when she
designed some of her best-known furniture designs. (Barlex, D, 2007, p50) She
was neglected for most of her career and is now regarded as one of the most
influential architect and furniture designers in early 20th Century.
Her works inspired many artists which later inspired Modernism and Art Decco. (Barlex,
D, 2007). Gray was viewed as a self-made architect. In her
words she said, “I started really by myself, sort of making plans of
buildings”(MacCarthy, 2005). Her architecture grown without the training
or the custom of the large office.

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To understand
the meaning and background behind this quote I have chosen two modernist art
movements Bauhaus and Cubism. These two art movements have impacted art in
iconic way which can be reflected still now. There are two examples for each of
these art forms. In Bauhaus art movement I will be focusing on Bauhaus Building, Dessau and how it
influenced in shaping the modernist environment. While in Cubism I will be
focusing on Brick Factory at Tortosa by world famous painter Pablo Picasso and one of his iconic
painting during his African Period.

 

 

 

 

i)
Bauhaus Building, Dessau – Bauhaus Art Movement

 

 “The ultimate aim of all creative activity is the building” Whitford
(1993, p.38) The above quote is by Walter Gropius in ‘The Bauhaus Manifesto’.
The word Bauhaus, loosely translated from German, mean House of Construction,
or School of Building. The Bauhaus art school was founded in 1919 in the city
of Weimar by German architect Walter Gropius (1883–1969). The Bauhaus building
was commissioned by the city of Dessau, a former municipality and currently a
town in Germany. The building construction was begun in autumn 1925, completed
within one year and opened in December 1926. The entire building occupies an
area of about 28,300 square feet, the volume is roughly 1,15,000 cubic feet.
The furnishing cost of the building was around 126,200 marks. While the total
cost counted to 902,500 marks which is approximately $230,000.00, which is
roughly around twenty cents per cubic foot. Gropius et al. (1999). The reason
why I chose Bauhaus Dessau building architecture as the prime example
for this essay is because it qualifies as one of the earliest modernist
architecture while rejecting many of the usual techniques in that time to
construct a building. It was this design of Walter Gropius which changed the
architecture scene around that time and paved a way to modern architecture
which we are used to now.

 

 

 

The building
is consisted of –

a) Studio
Wing

b)
Auditorium, stage and dining hall.

c) Laboratory
Workshop

d) Bridge
(Administration Offices)

e) Technical
School

Bauhaus
building in Dessau has spectacular features which makes it unique with a
futuristic message from the past. Some of them are of suspended glass facades,
exposed steel gridding and asymmetrical layout, with the three-wing complex
makes it modern during this time while when it was completed in 1926, it was
downright alien concept. (Wilder,C, 2016) Bauhaus
Building – found the perfect atmosphere for designing models for
engineering mass production.

The
main objective of Bauhaus was a radical notion: to reinvent the physical world
to reflect the unity of all the arts. Gropius has described this vision for a
blending of art and design in the Proclamation of the Bauhaus (1919), which
described a utopian craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and painting
into a single creative expression. Gropius developed a craft-based curriculum
that would turn out artisans and designers capable of creating useful and
beautiful objects appropriate to this new system of living (Winton, 2007).

 

In Bauhaus
manifesto Walter has stated the decoration building was once the honourable purpose
of the fine arts, and the fine arts which was essential for great architecture,
but today they merely exist and are in complete separation where they can be
rescued only by mindful support and relationship of all craftsmen. Architects,
sculptors and painters must come forward and understand the compound character
of a building together as an object and its various fragments Whitford (1993).

 

During
twentieth century architectural movements have produced many iconic landmarks
buildings with much historical significance which is still relevant and
discussed up on and while further examining, one can gain more understandings
into modernism of mid twentieth century. In the book 20th century classics (Sharp.D, 1999) among Bauhaus Dessau and
other two Architectural marvels namely Unite d’Habitation, Marseilles and Salk Institute,
LA Jolla, California are further explored in-depth. These three buildings have
the same mission and a sense of urgency that modernism wanted to convey. The
artists with such an inclination for Bauhaus are called “Master of
Form”. (Architects and Designers, 2016) Bauhaus building as it is known
was started building during the autumn of 1925 and completed in 1926. The
Bauhaus intends to train architects, sculptors and painters of all level of
achievement and ability as thorough craftsmen or self-determining creative
artists, and to find a working community of outstanding artist craftsmen and
students who knows to create and give spiritual accord to buildings in their entirety
from building their basic construction to their merging finishing, decoration
and furnishing Whitford (1993).

 

Its
vital objective was a radical concept: to reimagine the material world to
reflect the unity of all the arts. One of the distinct feature of this building it expresses the
modernist style while rejecting symmetry and frontispiece façade. (The Museum
of Modern Art, 1975, p. 100). Walter
Gropius explained this
vision for a union of art and design in the Proclamation of the Bauhaus (1919),
which defined a utopian craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and
painting into a single creative expression. (The Bauhaus Movement, 2016)

Fagus
shoe-last factory

Along with
his other works, one fine example of Walter Gropius marvellous design was of
the Fagus shoe-last factory, Alfred-an der- Leine, 1911, it was designed with
Adolf Meyer. It was one of the earliest modern industrial buildings during that
period. (Whitford,F, 1993) To build Bauhaus Dessau building Walter Gropius may
have took inspiration from the design of Fagus shoe factory as we examine further
into these two iconic structures. As both buildings are used for different
purposes, main entrance and window area of these two looks very similar even
they are placed both in different direction. The main difference is that the
Fagus shoe-last factory has the presence of chimney and warehouse next to it,
while Bauhaus building doesn’t have it. Gropius (1919) has stated earlier that
they wanted to create a purely organic structure, boldly originating its inner laws, free of fabrications or ornamentation. Thus, we can see the buildings designed by him and his students
mostly have followed this concept.

 

 

 

 

ii)
Brick Factory at Tortosa – Cubism Art Movement

 

Cubism is an avant-garde
(boundary pushing) art movement which most often considered to be the pivotal
art movement during the 20th Century (Antliff, 2001, P.7) One of the primary influence that led to Cubism was the
representation of three-dimensional form in the late works of Paul Cézanne. Cubist painters rejected the old practice of art copying nature
and tested techniques of perspective and modelling. It later led to many other
art movements such as futurism, dada, Art Deco to name a few. During 1907 and
1909 was the early period of cubist movement with the context of primitivist modernism
which was later embraced by future cubists and avant-gardists. (Antliff, 2001).

 

Regarding
cubism Picasso once said –

“When we discovered Cubism, we
did not have the aim of discovering Cubism. We only wanted to express what was
in us. The goal I proposed myself in making cubism? To paint and nothing more,
with a method linked only to my thought, Neither the good nor the true; neither
the useful nor the useless.” – (Picasso, nd)

 

 

During
Picasso’s African period, in 1909 he painted Brick Factory at Tortosa (L’Usine,
Horta de Ebro) which is an Oil on canvas painting with dimensions of 62 cm x 51
cm. It is now located in The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
It’s considered as Proto cubist work of Picasso. While looking at the picture
itself you can find it looks really cubist with little cubes forming into
different shapes. At first you will notice its location is on a hilltop, dry
terrains with no grass from which we understand it’s on a dry land. While
examining other shapes you can see a chimney, factory and small buildings next to it, along with some palm trees. In this painting
the main colours used are bright yellow, green, orange and light grey. One of
the striking feature of this painting is all the cubes are interconnected as
there is little or no gap at all. This method of painting was started by
Picasso and Cézanne, but it was Cézanne who started before him in interlocking
these cubes.

It makes the
viewer feel that the colours in each cube moves into each other forming into
different shape such as a house, shop factory etc. which makes it an optical
phenomenon. Further exploring, you will notice that the reflections and shadows
near the entrance door at the factory are as solid as the colour of the main
objects. (Smarthistory. art, history, conversation, 2009)

Brick Factory
at Tortosa again draws greatly from Cézanne both in colour and form. One of the
most noticeable distinguishing is however the way in which Picasso has
successfully handle the topographical features of the landscape. The chimney
that look in the background is, in fact, nowhere evident in Horta. Rather it
signifies a chimney used for burning olive waste, situated away from the
village, Similarly, Picasso has encompassed palm trees in this work, though no
such trees grew in or near the village. Picasso has simply introduced these
objects to serve the compositional structure of the work.

 

 

  

Viaduct at L’Estaque

Further into Piccasso’s painting there is another painting worth looking
into which has similar  attributes of Brick Factory
at Tortosa (1909), that
is of Georges Braqu’s Viaduct at
L’Estaque (1908). This painting features a bridge and few houses surrounded
by trees set in a cloudy day. It was painted just after Cézanne died, Braque
went down to standard in almost a kind of homage and began just to work over Cézanne
style in his late paintings. Analytic cubism was the main technique used in
this painting. Analytic Cubism was characterized by analysing
objects into components and, most importantly for this piece of art, in lieu of
numerous viewpoints at once. You can see
viaduct in many of Cézanne’s early works. It has also the same pallet and the
hatching brushwork that has featured in many of Cézanne’s paintings.  The buildings in the foreground seem to in a
way, crest up and back, so that the viaduct in background and the houses. It
feels like there’s no middle ground and there are rectangles and triangles
shapes without any circular shape. The colours are very much the colours of
analytic cubism, grey’s and brown. (Smarthistory. art, history, conversation,
2011) If you look further closely into the painting, you can see few subtle
undertones which makes the viewer the puzzled which is also in a way an optical
phenomenon which was previously mentioned in Picasso’s Brick Factory at Tortosa.

Interior
Showroom

While Bauhaus
and Cubism may have its similarities and differences but when I examined my personal
works, I think there are few elements of these art movements that have
influenced me, As I work in multimedia I have done my works primarily in 3d
visualization. One of my client asked me to have design an interior of car show
room by keeping it simple, with a modern style as they wanted to launch their
latest model car into the market that year. The influence of Bauhaus can be
seen on this work as it has followed the basic thoughts like free of fabrications or ornamentation
making it simplistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The
similarities and differences between Bauhaus Dessau and Brick Factory at
Tortosa are very striking, as one can observe both structures are in different
forms, one is an actual building and other is a fictional painting which are
conceived by well architect and artist. Both has their own unique purpose for
this world. And both are admired by many people around the world. One of the
major difference we can notice is where they both are based up on, as
previously mentioned Brick factory at tortosa was based on African primitive
setting and the location he chose was of rural side but covered in some
greenery whereas Bauhaus Dessau building was built in a town centre which
arises the conflict of rural and urban themes.

In response
to the Eileen gray’s ‘To create one must first question everything’ quote,
which is much relevant today. It is important in creating a artwork before to
begin by questioning the rationale behind it, because by questioning only we
find answers and even more questions with the possibility of discovering many
unknown facts, this is why it makes an art valuable. There is an impression deep-rooted in
the design profession that using a computer early in the design process is
predefining the designed output. However, this is not true, as this is not
connection between computer, pencil or brush. These are just tools used in our
process. Regardless of the tools we choose, to start our design method, the
design is driven and navigated by the mind behind the process. So as earlier
mentioned in gray’s quote that one must question everything before creation, to
question the idea of a drawing, of the course of sketching and so on. So, by questioning
the idea that one must design and sketch free of modern technology. (Engel, 2017)

 

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