Form follows beauty

Nick Shinn's picture

A maxim of Oscar Niemeyer, who died on Wednesday.
As a young man he worked in his father’s type house.

Karl Stange's picture

That reminded me of a line quoted by Eric Bana's character in Hanna, "Music; a combination of sounds with a view to beauty of form and expression of emotion". You could take everything after "sounds" and be talking about type or indeed, architecture.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately but is beauty a transcendent thing or infinitely subjective? Beyond that it is deeply personal but I am intrigued by perspectives.

5star's picture

R.I.P. Oscar Niemeyer.

The man inspired me for sure!! Not so much through his style/philosophy of architecture, but he inspired me because he showed what is possible.

Perhaps it was through his father's teachings that gave him the crucial understanding of what can be achieved ...one design element at a time for the greater whole.

n.

quadibloc's picture

Spraking of beauty, the other day I saw an article about the BBC documentary by/about Roger Scruton, "Wh Beauty in Art Matters".

Arthus's picture

Ah yes, Scruton. While it's worthwhile to watch/read his stuff, but I'm usually dropping out because of his assumptions on 'the contemporary' in culture and arts. His stance on how people should fill the 'free time' they get in the western world only fits the elitist few. If we all lived according to his thoughts on the arts, the world would be a quite boring place.

Sure people should be taught more to appreciate art and culture (according to Scruton this should be done to teach people true emotions and beauty) But hey, some people care less, and to always direct your personal flame war at them as the destroyers of society (as Scruton does) gets really old fast.

To stay on topic, Niemeyer was an amazing architect who showed us the possibilities of architecture and need to break from the mold. With construction methods becoming more advanced these days, he is a great icon who showed how to merge technique and aesthetics.

quadibloc's picture

@Arthus:
His stance on how people should fill the 'free time' they get in the western world only fits the elitist few.

Could be; haven't seen the documentary yet. But the common man, rather than the elite, is uncomfortable with modern art, and seeks conventional aesthetic gratification from art - whether the beauty of cute puppies, a sunset over a mountain behind a lake, or that of Miss February.

5star's picture

Niemeyer was an amazing architect who showed us the possibilities of architecture and need to break from the mold. With construction methods becoming more advanced these days, he is a great icon who showed how to merge technique and aesthetics.

He was one of a half dozen or so who had the right clients allowing him to play. And that's what inspires me about him. I mean really, throughout the history of the 'Urban' concept not very many architects have been able to determined a whole city's vibe. Even the notable American architect Frank Lloyd Wright couldn't pull that one off. Wright had the plan(s) but not the client.

n.

oldnick's picture

Karl--

Transcendent or subjective? Both, really, as Keats reminded us: there are Cosmic Truths and personal truths. Beauty may speak both: when the two are one, we find our bliss...

Nick Shinn's picture

Niemeyer’s quote on beauty was a riposte to functionalism.
By that, he didn’t mean that the clever solution to a functional problem could be considered beautiful, but that there was a sensual enjoyment to be had from the perception of form.

… not very many architects have been able to determined a whole city's vibe.

Visiting Glasgow, one expects a lot of Mackintosh, but he was marginal and designed few major buildings in his day, despite his present reputation. However, the city centre is full of Victorian Greek Revival buildings, a large number designed by Alexander Thomson, which really set the tone of the place.

5star's picture

Visiting Glasgow, one expects a lot of Mackintosh, but he was marginal and designed few major buildings...

No doubt, but he was well felt across the pond ... no more so than in F.Ll.W's Prairie School.

Tomas Jefferson also had the right 'clients' didn't he tho ... and a very far reaching architectural influence at that.

One of my all time favorite architects from times past is Hawksmoor ...a London architect. His Westminster Abby towers are f'n awesome. Even tho he was schooled by Wren I consider Nicholas Hawksmoor to be a transitional architect who indeed had a crazy influence. In all his stuff there's a distinct edge to his ordering.

You don't get that with Niemeyer's work nor with his protégés such as Hadid and company ... ;)

n.

John Hudson's picture

I went on a long walk across London many years ago, visiting all of the surviving Hawksmoor churches. I want to go back to Christchurch Spitalfields some day, because it has been beautifully renovated inside now; when I was there it was in terrible state. They are an eccentric collection of buildings, each quite different from the others and from pretty much everything contemporary. I don't think his sense of proportion was as good as Wren's, but he was more imaginative and less prone to repeat himself.

5star's picture

Kinda like Keith Richard as compared to Mick Taylor, ...both interpreting Robert Johnson???

On Hawksmoor's level it's seems to be all about the phrasing.

Awesome that you had that experience!!!

n.

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