The Modern Art And Architecture Cultural Studies Essay

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Modern art and architecture were very closely related. Artists and architects interacted during this period as well as all throughout history. Not only did architects work with artists but architecture is actually a type of applied art. What art and architecture are in general and how they relate will be discussed. This will be followed by an analysis of the Bauhaus school which operated in Germany from 1919 to 1933, founded by architect Walter Gropius. The Bauhaus taught art, craft, sculpture, typography, furniture design, industrial design and architecture as well as other forms of craft. [1] The teachings of the Bauhaus, how artists and architects at the Bauhaus interacted and pursued the same goals, as well as the results of their work in different media will be discussed. The essay will then focus on the architect Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus building itself at Dessau.

There is no universally recognised definition of art. Art can be generally described as something of beauty that is a result of creative thought. There are a vast range of disciplines that fall under the heading of art. These include fine arts, visual arts, decorative arts, liberal arts, applied arts, crafts, design, and performing arts. Numerous classifications of art are categorised with respect to the material used in the work, for example: painting, sculpture, metal art, fine art photography, glass art, etc. Fine art encompasses all works that are created for an aesthetic purpose. This includes many types of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. All of the fine arts in addition to collage, photography, video art and animation can be categorised as visual arts. [2] Decorative art is functional but also ornamental objects, for example, mosaic art, ceramics, furniture, stained glass and tapestry art. Applied art includes all works that apply aesthetic ideas to standard functional objects. This category covers all decorative arts as well as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and architecture. Forms of art have existed since prehistoric times (such as stone age cave paintings); types and styles of art as well as materials and techniques used have developed all throughout history. Art is a part of and reflection of the time and culture of which it was created. [3] 

Architecture is much more than simply shelter from nature. Vitruvius, the Roman architect and engineer around 40BCE, listed the necessary characteristics of architecture as firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, which are translated to firmness, commodity, and delight. Firmness is structural integrity, commodity is achieving functional needs, and delight is beauty. [4] The aesthetics and experience of a building are very important and are what make architecture. To be able to construct a building there must be a motive, materials and the means of using them, as well as a construction system. The will to build definitely responds to functional needs but regularly exceeds these to attend to emotional, spiritual and psychological requirements. Practicality naturally dominates the design of some buildings, for example industrial structures. However, in many buildings, such as those that serve religious or public functions, symbolism and other techniques are incorporated in the design to reveal meaning or status. The designs of high-rise office buildings generally project the image desired by the company. Similarly, people often adjust their home to convey their values and personalities. Such values are reflected in all architecture. [5] Architects are applied artists; they incorporate aesthetics and experience in the design of a functional building.

Art and architecture have had a very close relationship all throughout history. During the many periods in history, architects and artists belonging to all of the various categories have interacted and explored similar ideas. The Renaissance in Italy was an extremely significant time in the history of art and architecture. The art and architecture of the Renaissance was inspired by the classical forms of ancient Rome and Greece. [6] A key discovery made during the Renaissance is the geometrically accurate linear perspective, realised by Filippo Brunelleschi. This new spatial representation system had a major influence on art and architecture during and after the Renaissance. [7] Figure 1 shows a painting by artist Masaccio which uses Brunelleschi's method of perspective. Linear perspective in the Renaissance is one example of artists and architects of a period working together, exploring similar ideas in different media. The example also supports the argument that architects not only interact with artists but are actually applied artists.

Figure 1. Masaccio, The Trinity, S. Maria Novella, Florence, 1427-28.

(Moffet, Marian, et al, A World History of Architecture, 297).

The term "modernism" describes cultural movements and tendencies as well as thought and practice, which was a result of extensive changes to Western society at the turn of the twentieth century. Modern art and architecture movements existed from the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century. A great richness, complexity and multiplicity of ideas characterise this period of time. Significant political, social, and economic changes as well as developments in science and technology were occurring around the start of the century. [8] Modern architecture was founded while Western culture was undergoing a substantial upheaval, including World War I and a revolution in Russia. The developments in art and science at the time transformed architects fundamental outlooks on space and time. Designers in the early part of the twentieth century desired to work with these new views and ways of analysing and understanding along with major technological advancements to create modern art. It was believed that architecture and art should become instruments of the transformation of society. Modern architects promoted rational thought, economy and functionality and believed that mechanisation would be the best form of production of their rational designs. They were also in favour of expressing building materials as well as the construction process. [9] 

There were various art and architectural movements and schools throughout the period of modernism. Modern movements included Expressionism, Impressionism, Formalism, Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism, De Stijl, Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism. Expressionist art focussed on the artist's emotional and psychological expressions with the use of disfigured shapes and bold colours. The movement was primarily followed by German artists early in the twentieth century. [10] Artwork from the Cubist movement was generally calm and reflective. The style re-invented illustrative methods and values, and the works were exciting while also intellectual. Forms in the art were broken apart, and reorganised in an abstract manner portraying various viewpoints. [11] Futurist artists and architects admired technology, speed, the automobile, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. The movement existed mainly in Italy and was founded in 1909. [12] Suprematist art came about in 1913 in Russia and consisted of straight lines and particularly squares in geometrical arrangements. [13] De Stijl was a Dutch group created in 1917 and its artworks use a non-representational grid technique that emphasises the horizontal and vertical. De Stijl used only primary colours as well as black and white. Constructivist art was completely abstract, minimalistic, geometric and spatial. Constructivist art had a very close relationship with architecture and other applied arts at the time. The Bauhaus was a very significant modernist art and architecture school. [14] 

Staatliches Bauhaus, German for "House of Building" or "Building School" was a school was founded in Germany in April 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. It "was the site of the twentieth century's most influential experiment in artistic education." [15] The Bauhaus existed in three locations, in Weimer from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933. [16] The school produced less than five hundred graduates over the fourteen years and was closed down by the Nazi regime. Although the school only had a short period of existence it became extremely famous and the style of work produced became one of the most significant influences in modern design as well as following advancements in architecture, art, typography, interior design and industrial design. The Bauhaus was "a symbol of a progressive attitude to architecture and design." [17] 

The Bauhaus was founded with the idea to unite architecture, craft, art and technology, which follows the German idea of 'Gesamtkunstwerk' or 'total work of art'. In its first years of operation the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department but this was later incorporated, realising the initial idea of bringing all the arts together. [18] The Bauhaus was an alternative to the various fine arts academies in Germany that were successful in the nineteenth century. Instead of isolating fine arts from other categories, the Bauhaus taught various types of art, particularly applied art. Art was introduced to everyday life by redesigning common objects with emphasis on craftsmanship as well as mass production. [19]