(This commentary aired on Cityscape on May 7th)
In my days as a student at Washington University, there was a school of art and a school of architecture and they were quite separate. Today, Carmon Colangelo, the dean of the Sam Fox School of Art and Design is proud of the blending of art and architecture. The school recently held a conference entitled, "Economies: Art +Architecture." It was the first joint conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the National Council of Art Administrators. Peter MacKeith, associate dean of the school says, "The conference aligns precisely with the mission of the Sam Fox School in its emphasis on collaboration, social and environmental responsibility, and the interdisciplinary relationship between architecture, design, and art."
Bruce Lindsey, dean of the school of architecture at Washington University, says that the whole tradition of public art is changing and becoming much more collaborative. It used to be that the architect would design the building and when finished the artist would place his work around. Today artists and architects are putting their head together for creating buildings and other projects.
Maya Lin, the artist who designed the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington D.C.,says, "I feel I exist on the boundaries. Somewhere between science and art, art and architecture, public and private, east and west. I am always trying to find a balance between these opposing forces, finding the place where opposites meet." Newsweek Magazine referred to Lin as a magician who, through maintaining her esthetic integrity in a string of projects, won over both critics and the public in the age old debate of art vs architecture.
More and more people are going to museums these days. They are rushing off to Bilbao, Spain to see Frank Gehry's architectural wonder and to Denver to see Liebskind's addition to the Denver Art Museum. Many art critics are questioning whether some of these museums are so overpowering that one forgets that they contain works of fine art.
Emily Pulitzer of the Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis actually commissioned artist Elsworth Kelly and Richard Serra to collaborate with world famous architect Todao Ando and of course, the two artists are world class.What a great collaborative work.
Mary Miss has been to St Louis many times and has a piece at Laumeier Sculpture Park. According to Archinect Expo.com, she has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, landscape design and installation art. She has articulated a vision of the public sphere where communal and private experiences co-exist.
The definition and function of architecture are constantly changing. Matthew Strauss of White Flag Gallery in St Louis, talked about the practicality and function that need to be addressed with the client and yet with the popularity of contemporary art the boundaries between art and architecture are blurring.
David Chipperfield who is the architect of the in-progress new building at the St Louis Art Museum says, "In recent years, art galleries have tended to become freak shows. It's been about the wackiness of the building and not the art. He is being extremely sensitive to the art within his new building.
Any way you slice it, the arts are alive, and nourish our souls, and I love to see the boundaries of the disciplines fading and creativity allowed to flourish.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Arts Aficionado Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years. She serves on numerous arts affiliated boards, including The St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park where she is the Co-Chair, The Sheldon Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Gallery Board, Jazz at the Bistro, The Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., The Mid American Arts Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Nancy was named Women of Achievement and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award at Washington University Nancy is a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum and is an honorary docent at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At age 60 she became a Jazz singer. She performs with the Second Half which features Chancellor Tom George on the piano.