Eddie Heathcote, Architecture & Design critic for the FT makes an interesting point in this year’s edition of ‘Frieze Week’:
Once there was an art of architecture within which paintings and sculptures were displayed. Now there is, instead an architecture for art
The architecture of museums and galleries has, for centuries, been dislocated from the art on display. But changes are being made with the emergence of a more responsive ‘architecture for art’. Architecture no longer merely offers its interior as a space for display but its very structure mirrors the developments being made in the art world.
A recent visit to the newly opened Switch House provided the prime example.
Built by Herzog & De Mueron and home to some of the most exciting contemporary art from all over the world, the Switch House has neither the stark utilitarian aesthetic of the traditional gallery nor the stately-home grandeur of the museum.
It is instead the epitome of the Tate’s new slogan ‘Art changes, so do we’. Its very presence speaks of the art it displays: the vast and varied spaces catering to the expanding scales of painting and sculpture as well as developing mediums such as performance art and dance.
But, as Heathcote also argues, the gallery is a ‘shrinking small part of the architecture for art’ with temporary structures and events such as Frieze Art Fair posing further questions about the relationship between art and architecture.
What struck me on a visit to Frieze London last week was the unofficial theme adopted by a number of stands; that of the gallery as the artwork. For both Marianna Boesky and Hauser & Wirth, the architectural elements were intertwined with the art, if not the primary focus. Marianna Boesky presented a white, miniature interior raising questions about the ‘accoutrements of the aesthetic sophisticate’ whilst Hauser & Wirth exhibited ‘L’atelier d’artistes’, a tongue-in-cheek examination of the way museums unfaithfully reconstruct artist’s studios.
The studio was filled with works by a number of different artists and yet they were all seemingly displayed under one name. For both stands, it was the architecture that was, in effect, the artwork.
As the relationship between art and architecture becomes more interwoven, and art continues to progress at the speed of a runaway train, we can only expect our buildings to mirror these changes.
Heathcote concludes that this is a very exciting time for art but, as these recent developments suggest, so too for architecture!
Leonora Rae, ING Graduate Trainee