Contextual Studies – How Buildings & Art Movements Communicate

For our Contextual Studies lecture we looked at how different styles of buildings and architecture communicate, I have come to realise that there is so much more to a building than it’s outer appearance and that every small detail could be reference to another style or era in the world of architecture. Below is my notes from the lecture, followed by a list of the different styles we looked at, as well as my thoughts on these individual styles and some examples. Click to enlarge.

Photo on 19-11-2014 at 09.17 Photo on 19-11-2014 at 09.17 #2

Classical architecture is mostly descended from the original principles of Greek and Roman architecture with many official & powerful connotations such as the tall, vertical columns and triangular tops representing authority and stability. To be more specific, the works of Vitruvius are what inspired Classical art. In modern times buildings like town halls and banks (that represent authority) have adopted this style.
Classical-Architecture-Stone-Columns-Portico-David-Sharp ency328archit005 Glyptothek,_Königsplatz,_Múnich,_Alemania02
hat I find most spectacular about these buildings is their grand interior, containing luxury marble and tall columns, embellished walls and ceilings and beautiful statues. The art style from this era is also very politics and ‘god’ based, looking at goddesses and warriors. The artwork from this era is very beautifully crafted, it displays dramatic scenes that are almost fantasy – the style of painting is very realistic, as were their sculptures mainly made from stone.
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Gothic architecture evolved from Romanesque architecture and is possibly the most beautiful form of architecture in my opinion, mainly focused to cathedrals, these humongous structures that take centuries  to complete stand tall, with spires, pointed arches, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress. These buildings are so detailed that every arch, nook and cranny is embellished from top to bottom with hand carved patterns into the stone. Giant stained glass windows are one of the more prominent and well known features of Gothic Architecture, they often tell stories of the bible as people back in the medieval times (when these were built) couldn’t read.
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s you can see above, even features that are there to support the structure itself are made to look aesthetically pleasing and decorative. The inside of these buildings is possibly even more spectacular then the external view, with huge arches and columns supporting the roofs, the light coming through the windows and elaborate roof details and paintings, most of which made by stone. The artwork linked to this is very religious and almost reminds me of a more serious, much less artistic version of the pre raphaelite brotherhood.
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Some famous examples of gothic architecture are: Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral and Cologne Cathedral.
the essence of Gothic architecture

Baroque style Architecture is like the less flouncy, more expensive godly version of Rococo architecture. It is very elaborate inside and out (though the inside is more detailed and dramatic), all the marble, gold and expensive materials will be real and super valuable, whereas Rococo is made to look expensive like Baroque, only the materials are mostly fake replicas. The vatican is a good example of Baroque architecture, the style is like a mix of Gothic and Romanesque with a decorative twist… overall hard to grasp in my opinion, it’s full of movement and very theatrical. Everything within a Baroque style building would be Baroque, from the decorations to the paintings to the music, even how the people dress and act.
CA-St_Pauls_Cathedral_London_England_-_Jan_2010 DSC_0360 Fontana-di-Trevi-Baroque-Architecture-Rome-Italy fr_arch12 PalaisGarnier
Below are some pictures of Rococo style, as you can see it is basically a very flamboyant and feminine version of Baroque, sometimes the outside walls are painted pastel or bright colours and the pillars and boarders left white. The art style is (much like the buildings) very flirtatious and not very serious, the paintings remind me of the whimsical ornaments my Nannan keeps on her shelves.
P1040834 PalaisCatherine-facade rococo-building-amalienburg rococo tumblr_lax2w8juqc1qzicddFragonard_-_swingThe_Stolen_Kiss

Neoclassical is another very authoritative period of architecture from the 15th Century period of enlightenment, the buildings feature vertical columns to symbolise authority and often have very stable, almost godlike shapes such as triangles or domes on top.
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Though the buildings are very authoritarian and serious, they do feature some rather realistic carvings of people (sometimes gods) on their walls or as statues inside the grounds of the building. The art style of Neo Classical is based on skin that never dies, an eternal authority that will never go away – skin is painted to look like real skin, also this represents the long lasting stature of the building itself and the forces within. The Neoclassicism paintings often symbolise the glory of war or the gods, sometimes just regular situations but they mainly focus on political issues. The Neoclassical movement is very similar to the Classical art movement, some may argue they are virtually the same ,however Classical art is more theatrical.

CA-Thetis-and-Zeus Le Premier Consul franchissant les Alpes au col du Grand-Saint-B NEOCLSSICO1

The Victorian style isn’t really a style of it’s own right in my opinion because all the style is in reality is a mixture of many other styles, many of which are in this presentation. These buildings are considered one of the most English, though it isn’t entirely true. Many London buildings contain decorative iron and buildings in the Victorian style, for example one of the most famous English buildings in this style is the Big Ben. Lots of train stations use this style as well as other more academic buildings such as universities and libraries. 
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The artwork within these buildings is very much based on women (other than portraits) dressed in flouncy dresses and hats, looking rather wealthy. This really reminds me of Pre Raphaellite which is one of my favourite art movements, even though it was short lived.
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Alongside Victorian, Arts & Crafts is one of the styles people relate to as British, and is possibly the most British in my opinion. For some reason I find this style of architecture, art and decoration quite theatrical, almost a staged version of what classic English should be – it seems very inspired by King Arthur, Robin Hood and the medieval knights.
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The art within the house, and the furniture in particular is all handmade, there is nothing manufactured or mass produced about anything within these buildings, it’s all decorated by hand also, for example the wallpaper would be painted by somebody as well as the ornaments ect. One of the pictures below of wallpaper reminds me a little of Art Noveau.

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Art Noveau is possibly my favourite art movement out of the list, though the style of architecture is a little more creepy and almost organic looking, it reminds me of those microscopic images from within the human heart or body, almost like the windows are cells held together by separate fibres. I wouldn’t like to spend a night in one of the bedrooms, I would feel like I was sleeping inside a creature.
Art Nouveau in Musée d'Orsay b.538_art-nouveau casabatllo tumblr_mguas6Amln1s2ddoho1_1280
The art is a lot like the architecture unlike many other art movements, everything is elaborate and flows together, there aren’t many sharp angles and the colours all seem to be the same, dingy tones. Alphonse Mucha is my favourite artist within this movement, his work has inspired many other artists despite the Art Noveau period not lasting too long.
champagne-printer-publisher-1897 dance-1898 Mucha-Moët_&_Chandon_White_Star-1899

Art Deco is fairly modern in terms of it’s use, mainly LA and New York (cities in the US) have adopted this style into their massive buildings. Art Deco is the main style featured in many old American movies and is linked strongly to Broadway ect. It’s a little like the statue of Liberty in terms of it representing strength and wealth but at the same time the tips of the buildings show creativity and new ideas, something not often seen in the more official buildings like banks and libraries ect.
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he Art Deco Art Movement reminds me a little bit of cubism, Art Noveau, Minimalism and American comic books… just my personal observation. It seems to be a bit on the side of democracy and order but at the same time it reminds me of Broadway.
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Both Modernist and Post Modernist Architecture are very angular, though the Post Modernism buildings tend to feature extreme protruding shapes that don’t fit with the rest of the building… I almost think these look like the building versions of cube art, mashing all kinds of styles together to create elaborate and contorted structures. Modernist buildings are being constructed all over the place, one of which in Sheffield is the Cheese Grater which is also very angular and interesting to the eye.
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From what I can see, the Post Modernism style is more to shock and please the eye, whereas modernism is more functional and a little more normal. Post is like a useable version of public art.


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