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Art - Architecture Synthesis

Words: Selin Ciftci


Various art branches have been used in different forms throughout history. Before looking at the relationship between art and architecture, it is important to understand what artistic synthesis is. The concept of artistic synthesis implies thecreation of a qualitatively new artistic phenomenon irreducibleto the sum of its component parts. The ideological, imaginative,and compositional unity of the components, their common effect in the time and space arrangement, their coordination inscale, proportion, and rhythm generate artistic qualities enhancing apprehension of art and the development of an idea on many planes. For example, music and poetry come together in the theater, or in some religious rituals. In the same way, movies are another platform where various art disciplines are synthesized. One of the best known examples of art synthesis is architecture and art synthesis. Architecture and monumental art are often united, creating a synthesis in which painting and sculpture, while performing their own tasks, also enhance and interpret the architectural image.

If it is looked briefly at the history of the synthesis of art and architecture, It can be said, it occured in different periods with different practices.The relation between art-architecture sysntesis may vary according to the artist's approach or the circumstances of historical period. The Greeks harmonied it architecture with sculpture(picture 1), or Egyptian Architecture used it as a decorative symbolism. It may be integrated such as Gotic Architecture and sculpture with cathedrals(picture 2) and glass materials, may harmoniously complement one another such as Renaissance art with Michelangelo’s sculptures, churches and paintings, or as we seen in 20th century structures, the relation occurs with contrast to one an other. As a result of all these processes, it is important how the synthesis of art architecture takes place in modern architecture.

Relation Between Art-Architecture Synthesis and Modern Architecture

Besides all these synthesis formations, Art and Architecture are frequently differentiated in terms of their relationship to ‘function’. Unlike architecture, art may not be functional in traditional terms, for example in responding to social needs, giving shelter when it rains or designing a room in which to perform open-heart surgery, but we could say that art is functional in providing certain kinds of tools for selfreflection, critical thinking and social change.

The integration of art and architecture in this plane was difficult at different angles as well as functional differences. According to Paul Damaz, the problem of the synthesis of the arts is more complex then it seems at first sight. It is not enough in attempting to solve it, to bring together a group of highlevel artists, even though they may complement one another professionally, aim at the same result and share the same interest in the work to be achieved. It is also necessary and this is more difficult that the artists chosen should be perfectly aware of the general questions to be considered and of the particular problems of each profession. The painter's knowledge, for instance, should not be limited to painting, but should include some familiarity with sculpture, engraving, architecture and allied arts. These conditions, though apparently easy to establish, become more involved owing to the complexity of present-day themes, particularly in relation to architecture, where a synthesis of the arts is to be effected. From this point of view, it can be said that certain conditions must be established for the art-architecture synthesis.

Under all these circumstances, it is important that how the synthesis of art and architecture takes place in modern architecture period. In this context, the process in which modern architecture emerged as a pioneering movement in Europe and spread rapidly to other countries starting in 1930s is important. For example, according to the understanding of rationalist modernism in the 1930s, the analytic and figurative function of art was rejected for representatives of constructivism like Bauhaus. In parallel with this process, architects such as le corbusier, in particular, took role models in terms of architecture of many countries. However, despite the attitude of modern architecture on the art-architectural synthesis, especially after the second world war, the synthesis of art-architecture allowed the international modernism in different cultures to turn out from the western memorization. II. Post-World War Modernization has reinterpreted by Le Corbusier many young architects in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South Asia, especially in Latin America, according to local conditions (physical, cultural and technological) and reinterpreted the international modern style. In their hands, the 1950s modernism could have been a kind of "situated modernism" that reflected both an obviously "international" aesthetic and a great deal of ownership of this aesthetic with its citrus, earth, culture from the climate of the country in which it was built.

For example, modern Latin American architecture,which is blending Le Corbusier influences with the aesthetic tendencies of baroque architectural heritage (such as the use of curved forms, spiral staircases, ramps) with the necessity of tropical climates (as in the use of brise soleil or various solar cutter elements) has brought these new expansions to a close and has shown that there can be a good shopping not only to "affect" the one way imitation / identity that goes from the west to the neighboring countries but also to affect the west and transform national modernizations. One of the greatest examples of this process is the Ministry of Health and Education Ministry((The Gustavo Capanema Palace) in Rio, where Le Corbuseir is the consultant architect(picture 3). It has become important how architecture and nature come together in the design of the building. It is seen that interior spaces solutions and materials in the tropical climate differ from modern architecture examples of similar period.

At the same time, the Brazilian Pavilion, which we can call the manifestation of this tropical modernism in 1939 new york, is on the scene of international architecture (picture 4). This pavilion, designed by Oscar Niemeyer in collaboration with Lucio Costa, draws attention to the concept of a fluid space that removes the inner divide. Following the interesting of Ministry Building in Rio (The Gustavo Capanema Palace) and Brazilian Pavillion in New York, it was historically important that the ‘Brazil Builds’ Exhibition in 1943 is created by the most powerful institution in the center of modern architecture MOMA. It would not be so wrong to start with this exhibition for the first time to be interested in non-Western geography with its publications, exhibitions, schools, leading actors such as Le Corbusier, Gropius and Siegfried Giedion, canonical modern architectural cult always under control of Europe and North America with CIAM and similar institutions. This process of interaction which is based on the assumption that when these aesthetics that these geographies are familiar with are read as forms reinterpreted by 20th century functions , technologies with the very specific climate, topography, landscapes is also a ‘local modernism’.

Lina Bo Bardi's design Museu de Arte(picture 5) (1968) in Sao Paulo, Affonso Rendy's Modern Art Museum(1968) in Rio(picture 6) , and similarly in Sao Paolo, architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s "Museu da Escultura Brasileira(picture 7) - MUBE (1986-95) are another important examples of this process.

Similarly; modernism in Turkey shows parallel approaches to Latin America modernism which emerged from Le Corbuseir but could go beyond it. This shows the concept of plural modernism. In this context, Latin america and Turkey are important examples to be examined in terms of parallel approaches to modern architecture processes and architecture-art synthesis.

Latin America and Turkey

Parallels in Modern Architectural Processes

Both geographies have been influenced and produced by le corbusier architecture in the history of modern civilization after the Second World War, and modern architecture has been interpreted similarly according to their geographical conditions. Modern turkish inspiration, after the 2nd war despite a more closed, nationalist process, opened up to international interactions, especially after 1950.

In this context, interaction between architecture of Turkey and Latin America is important. For example; (1954), which is one of the first pioneers of modernization in the Hami Çan Villası (1954), which is an example of a baysal-martial partnership, while using the thin steel carriers that also take care of the aesthetic function, then at Şevket Saatçioğlu Villa (1960) (Picture 8) can be interesting parallels with important differences, far from Istanbul, in (1951) of the Italian architect Lina BoBardi in Sao Paolo. (Picture 9) So both villas are good examples of both the international aesthetics of the modernist Le Corbusier in the 1950s and the inability to reduce this modernism (often attributed to Le Corbusier) rational / functional schemes.

Parallel Approaches and examples of Art-Architecture Synthesis

In addition to the conditions of formation mentioned in historical development, architecture-art synthesis, which is an effort to bring life to the modernist spaces, sculpture, wall panels and paintings, which are thought to combine architecture with plastic and graphic arts and then sterilize, brings together a collective work.

It is more difficult to provide this collective order in the process of modern civilization, in which the arts and sculptures are separated. A paradigmatic example of this creative search / opening in Modernizmin is the collection of a baysal partnership in Turkey at Venezuela Central University in Caracas, where Latin America works with renowned modern artists such as architect Carlos Raul Villanueva, Calder and Fernard Leger. Baysal-Birsel's Vakko Factory in Merter (1969) Both examples are important in terms of approaches to the synthesis of art and architecture, collective work and creativity.

Vakko Factory

Vakko Touristic Hand, Scarf and Garment Factory is an industrial building complex designed by Haluk Baysal to produce textile under the name of "Vakko" brand belonging to Hakko family in 1969. With its social facilities and lodgings, it has a construction area of ​​24.000 m2 within a wide area of ​​62.500 m2 in Istanbul Merter. Civil engineering is defined by Rasim Etiman's single-storey reinforced concrete structures, gross concrete walls and curtain glass facades. The main building in the settlement has a 350-meter roadway ceiling and a 375-meter building depth, and consists of masses that are gradually tapering backwards. The building program is divided into four sections: A.Teşhir, sales units, park excursion, pool, Turkish cafes, casinos, restaurants, open-close exhibitions and fashion show area; b. Administration, education, construction; c. Park, sports fields, swimming pool and club; D. Four lodging blocks and parks. The lodgings are 3-4 floors with internal courtyard.

Workers in the building have been tried to assess their relevance to the environment, their impact on their working and creative power. Interior and exterior researches have been handled from this point of view and plastic and graphic compositions have been brought to the workshop by 14 artists working together to form a whole with architecture (picture- 10,11,12,13). The Vakko Factory is a project that "integrates plastic and graphic arts into an industry structure for the first time" with original works by 14 artists including famous names such as Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu, Shadi Çalık, Jale Yılmabaşar and Mustafa Pleveni. This international modernist tendency is one of the most important examples in Turkey, one of the most beautiful examples.For example it is the first building where the sculpture was used as a part of building in Turkey(picture 14).

As Elâ Kaçel points out, structure of the factory, which combines plastic / graphic arts and "voluntarily aesthetizes the free market economy" on the one hand, also aims to "make a positive impact on the working and creative power of employees". Thus, an ideal of capitalism beyond simple calculations of profitability has been used to produce surplus value in architecture, not plastic or graphic arts, ornamentation, combined with a modernism ideal that goes beyond sterile rationality / functionality formulas. As art historians pointed out, "In 1955, Hadi Bara, Ilhan Koman and architect Tarık Carim form the Turkish branch of the group Espas, which emerged in France, and propose the synthesis of plastic arts, important steps taken towards modernization parallel to developments in the West.

About the factory which is faced with the threat of demolition in 2007, Zeki Sayar, one of the editors of Arkitekt Magazine, criticizing the demolition process,and have stated: "In recent years, many factories and industrial buildings have been built in our country, but none such as architectural and plastic arts have features such as Vakko Factory, like the others, can be a work that continues on the technical side and the architects and especially the owners may be pleased, but thanks to the understanding of the owner of these buildings, His masterpiece reveals a wide range of collaborative folios covering all plastic arts. The interior space architectural plans are striking’’. Unfortunately, at the end of this period the factory's demolition process could not be stopped and it has been demolished in the past few years.

The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas

The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, built to the design of the architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva, between 1940 and 1960, is an outstanding example of the Modern Movement in architecture. The university campus integrates the large number of buildings and functions into a clearly articulated ensemble, creating an open and dynamic space, where the art forms become an essential part of the inhabited place. The forms and structures express the spirit and technological development of their time in the use of reinforced concrete. Key architectural structures include masterpieces of modern architecture and visual arts, such as the Aula Magna with the "Clouds" of Alexander Calder(picture 15), Stained-glass window of Fernand Leger(picture 16), ‘L’Amphion’ by Henri Laurens(picture 17), ‘Mural’ by Fernand Leger(picture 18), Seramic Works by Pascual Navarro, Mateo Manaure(picture 19,20), the Olympic Stadium, and the Covered Plaza.

The complex constitutes a modern interpretation of urban and architectural concepts and traditions, incorporating patios and latticed windows as an appropriate solution for its tropical environment. For the University a group of distinguished avant-garde artists worked collectively which is important feature of art-architecture synthesis. According to Paris, as representative of the work of Villanueva is the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (1944-1966). He developed an architecture that took advantage of the technological advances of the time, the design of the new architecture and visual arts to create environments conducive to the natural environment of Caracas.

The university has a large number of educational buildings and sports characters. Among them are the Industrial Technical Schools in 1947, where the piles are used in the manner of rationalism. The Corbusian while recovering ground level to build-the Aula Magna, in collaboration with the American sculptor Alexander Calder, author of the plafonds or curved profiles that hang from (1958), with a curved concrete roof. The ceiling and act as noise barriers, the place is covered with a soft cover under roofs of different heights and pierced walls.

In this monumental building, Villanueva developed two basic concepts: linking the built-in sidewalks, and turning that space into a huge workshop for the integration of the arts to bring together a unique collaborative environment architect and artist. From this it will extend the dialogue between painting, sculpture and architectural and urban spaces, embodied in polychrome facade and other variants of the artist and architects.

The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas(picture 21), was the result of the national modernization program introduced by General Marcos Perez Jimenez, who ruled Venezuela from 1952 to 1958, and talent and vision of Villanueva. The immense wealth flowing into Venezuela from oil revenues together with Perez Jimenez’s strong will change the international image of the nation’s capital with monumental civil works, gave rise to the city’s golden age, which was marked by an unpretented urban transmation and an unparalleled architectural building boom. By the end of the 1950s, Caracas had emerged as a major capital of modern design, alongside Mexico City and Rio de Janerio.

Villanueva’s campus had a huge influence on the arts scene in Caracas and the city’s urban landscape. It inspired architects and artists alike in their search for an artistic vision and expression of their own. Villanueva’s university campus abounds with examles of how modern architecture and visual arts can enter into a dialogue and coexist of innovative visual, aural, physical, poetic, phenomenological experiences for the integration of arts. The result was of such special cultural and pycsical significance that, in 2002 The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas was inscribed in the UNESCO’S World Heritage List of outstanding value.

As a result of, approach of art-architecture synthesis, combining modernist spatial insights and building techniques with national thematic non-figurative original art works, has been able to offer creative solutions for young architects in Turkey and similar countries in Latin America that have been stuck between international modernism beliefs on the one hand and national identity searches on the other. In the world, it is no coincidence that the most interesting examples of the idea of ​​synthesis of modern architecture and plastic arts in the world, including Europe and the United States, are still in the various stages of new, all still nation-building projects.

It is one of the important methods that influence the identification of the artistic and architectural synthesis place in terms of historical development and the change and originality that it creates in modern architecture. Turkish and Latin American influence is very big in the development of modern architecture. For this reason, the products (values-artifacts) that emerged as the end result of the artistic synthesis are the cultural heritages that need to be protected in terms of the nature of the production processes that require collective work, as well as their place in the history of architecture.


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