New Architecture and City Planning: A Symposium

By Paul Zucker | Go to book overview

FIGURATIVE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: MURAL AND ARCHITECTURAL SCULPTURE

By ERNEST FIENE

Painting and sculpture as planned elements of architecture can express the inspiration and aspiration of men. These arts properly integrated symbolize the spirit of the project. This function transcends ornamentation because it serves a purpose beyond the decorative function. In the great classical periods to achieve this was the most important use of these arts.

"Art" in architecture was at low ebb during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because there was less understanding of art in relation to contemporary life. Civic art played a minor role with the result that it attracted fewer of the creative talents of the period. There are a number of reasons for it.

Since the beginning of industrialization many of the larger public architectural units were sponsored by individuals or private corporations (theatres, banks, department stores, plants). Their interests were more in self-glorification than in giving art to the community. At this time also the manufacture of "architectural ornaments", stained glass windows and even murals became an industry, which concerned itself with the production of standardized low priced patterns, with which the artist could not compete. These ornaments were generally copies or redesigned classical patterns. They coincided with the trend of many examples of the architecture proper of those times. It was a degeneration that ran through the whole fibre of western civilization until the advent of modern design.

The planners of the new structures are again conscious of the

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