Crouching artist, hidden architecture

Art and architecture: which comes first?

CHAPTER 2: 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. Frederic Remington’s The Charge, for example, was originally painted for the swanky Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City, a fact that suddenly colors the scene with a tint of exoticism. Alternatively, Helen Frankenthaler made Over the Circle by crouching over the canvas laid flat on her studio floor, a technique developed from the famed Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock; those floorboards are therefore integral to the painting’s creation. Or, in yet another example, Donald Moffett’s series, What Barbara Jordan Wore, conjures the architecture of the Texas State Capitol, where the artist first saw the annual portraits he used as templates for his own compositions. Each time we look at these works, we are invited to imagine the Capitol rotunda, as well as the portraits that currently hang there.

Image credit:
Stuart Davis
Lawn and Sky, 1931 (detail)
Oil on canvas
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Gift of Mari and James A. Michener, 1991

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