Art and Architecture: Which Comes First?

Art and Architecture: Which Comes First?

Architecture can inform a work of art in a number of ways: in its conception, its construction, and its eventual presentation. The works gathered here illustrate the range of influences architecture can have on the meaning of an artwork: where it was commissioned to be displayed, what building(s) it references, and the structures it engages physically or evokes mentally. Although often invisible to the average viewer, bringing an artwork’s architectural past to the fore can help the way we understand it long after parting from its original setting.

image of an artwork by Helen Frankenthaler in the Blanton's collection

Crouching Artist, Hidden Architecture

A work of art can assume many identities over the course of its lifetime. Often, those identities are constructed according to the settings in which the artwork first hung or stood.
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Image depicts a sculpture of a laughing Buddha supporting a white stone wall.

On the Wall/Off the Wall

Architecture has always played an important role in art display. But in the 1960s, artists began to engage architecture as an active component of their work. The phenomenological implications of this strategy—artworks are never static, but always active—continue today.
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Image of the facade of the Broad Museum with a woman pushing a rolling garbage can along a sidewalk at the bottom of the image.

What Does Institutional Critique Look Like?

Institutional critique refers to an approach to artmaking that prompts critical questions about the functions of art (social, political) and the places in which it is displayed (museums, galleries).
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Image depicts a painting with a blue field on top of a green field, with an ovoid yellow shape taking up a significant portion of the blue field.

Abstract Architecture

Even when an artwork references an architectural structure explicitly, it isn’t always visually obvious. Vivid planes and shapes that read as landscapes, architectures of shadow and light, and fusions of abstraction and architecture prompt us to reconsider the parameters of the built environment and how we exist within it.
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