Art in Conversation: The Fantasy Architecture of Étienne-Louis Boullée and Young & Giroux

Art in Conversation is a monthly series that features pieces from CUAG’s collection and exhibitions in dialogue with cultural trends, current events, and local and global arts communities. Art isn’t just for looking at – here, we explore art as an interactive social phenomenon.

Fantasy architecture –the imagined-yet-never-built forms drawn from the most uninhibited recesses of the architect’s mind – is perhaps more intriguing than its physical counterpart, built structures. Fantasies allow us to explore the improbable, logic-bending ideas for a world that does not exist.  Fantasies are born in the mind and emerge as creative gestures. Indeed, everything human-made around us is based on some sort of fantasy – a suggestion of the imagination – that is translated into a practical language of gravity, economy, resources, etc. Take for example, your cell phone, your bicycle, or something as seemingly mundane as a light bulb.  From embryonic flickerings of the minds of Martin Cooper, Karl von Drais, and Nikola Tesla, these ideas were pursued with uncertain determination through sketches, elaborate drawings, scale models, and prototypes.

Architecture – as an art form, as an orderer of space and of social interactions, and as that which can assign to us the security of habitat – is no different. The buildings we are surrounded by can be traced back to hastily scrawled sketches within notebooks, to the mind of an individual with a fantasy. Yet, not all architecture is built. Some remain as conceptual design – as pure possibility.

Over two-hundred years ago, French architect and artist Étienne-Louis Boullée dazzled his contemporaries with impossible architectural schemes and still continues to amaze us today. Working in the neoclassical style of the eighteenth century, Boullée looked past the aesthetic vogue of ordered columns, temple façades, and rounded arches. Instead, he sought to explore the very essence of the classical tradition – rationality, order, clarity, geometry, symmetry – demanding from it what no one had before.

Of his most famous designs there is the Cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton (1784), a sprawling, immense spherical structure that was to commemorate the late British scientist. One hundred and fifty metres tall, it was meant to simulate night and day with  small holes at the top of the sphere to let sunlight through that would create an effect of seeing the cosmos in the darkened chamber during day time. During night time, sunlight would be imitated with a massive suspended orb of light.

image(Image via)

In another design, Deuxième projet pour la Bibliothèque du Roi (1785), Boullée pushes the limits of architectural reality with a structurally impossible vaulted ceiling: the very place from which a skylight is carved is where the ceiling must be structurally the strongest. It is fantasy that pervades these works, the desire to put something that is entirely surreal into the context of reality.

image (Image via)

Looking at CUAG’s current exhibition, Y & G #12 (curtain walls), this same fantasy is present. The Canadian duo’s three sculptural forms, Chagrin (2013), Eunoia (2013), and Coaptation (2012) do not fail to remind us of something we have already seen, but not quite as we have seen it. Just as Boullée manipulated the boundaries of neoclassical form, so do Daniel Young and Christian Giroux with Modern architecture. Rather than simply playing upon the aesthetic of the revolutionary curtain wall (a wall which is not structurally necessary for the building), Young & Giroux pose questions about the nature of the modern form – of its ubiquitous monotony, of its unapologetic angularity, and of its resistance to adornment. In this way, these works act as sorts or prototypes for artistic imagination, not unlike those of inventors. In fact, during a talk with curator Diana Nemiroff at the Carleton University Art Gallery in September, Christian Giroux stated that he and Young “invoke the idea of the prototyper”, because although their work includes “a lot of hand-processing and crafting,” there are many links to the industrial world as well. As Nemiroff observes, they are “positioned in between” these spaces.

These sculptures do not mimic any particular modern building, nor would it be probable to construct them as buildings themselves. They are elaborate models of architectural imagination intended as reflections upon our built environment and as materialisations of fantasy.

image(Young & Giroux, Chagrin, 2013. Steel, extruded aluminum, acrylic, components. Image courtesy of the artists.)

image                                  (Young & Giroux, Eunoia, 2013. Steel, extruded aluminum, acrylic, components. Image courtesy of the artists.)

image(Young & Giroux, Coaptation, 2012. Steel, extruded aluminum, acrylic, components. Image courtesy of the artists.)

Y & G #12 (curtain walls) will be exhibited until December 15.

Leona Nikolic is a fourth-year Art History student. She is usually covered in glitter. You can read more from her at the Carleton Art History Department website and at the Art and Science Journal.

6Carleton University, Carleton University Art Gallery, cuag collection, medium, etienne louis boullée, young & giroux, christian giroux, daniel young, Architecture, modern architecture, student collaborations, current exhibitions,

Today is Remembrance Day, and crowds are gathering at the War Memorial this morning for the ceremony.
Wherever you are today, give a moment of silence at 11 o’clock today.
Here is Philip Bergerson’s photograph Fallen Soldiers’ Names in Bronze, from the series Shards of Civilization (1991).
Check out these photographs of World War I and II, from The Gazette.
ZoomInfo
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Canon EOS 30D
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640
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Today is Remembrance Day, and crowds are gathering at the War Memorial this morning for the ceremony.

Wherever you are today, give a moment of silence at 11 o’clock today.

Here is Philip Bergerson’s photograph Fallen Soldiers’ Names in Bronze, from the series Shards of Civilization (1991).

Check out these photographs of World War I and II, from The Gazette.

6Remembrance day, collection, medium,

Congratulations to Erin Shirreff, who won the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize last night!

You can check out her work online here OR come in to CUAG to pick up the beautiful catalogue from her solo exhibition here in 2012. The catalogue was co-produced with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. 

Image: Erin Shirreff, Lake, video still, 2012. Colour video, silent, 44 minute loop.

6Erin Shirreff, photography, medium,

Collection Friday!
Suzy Lake, Adapting to Taste, from the portfolio Untitled, 1975. Colour silkscreen on paper.
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 30D
ISO
1600
Aperture
f/5.6
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1/50th
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99mm

Collection Friday!

Suzy Lake, Adapting to Taste, from the portfolio Untitled, 1975. Colour silkscreen on paper.

6collection, collection friday, silkscreen, suzy lake, medium,

Ottawa Art Scene: November 7 - 13

The National Gallery of Canada is open late tonight, which should give you a chance to see their new mega-exhibition, “Artists, Architects, and Artisans.” For anyone interested in historical Canadian art from the turn of the twentieth century, this exhibition should definitely be on their “Must See” list. The mini-site has some beautiful examples of paintings, ceramics, and architectural details. There will be a symposium on Saturday in conjunction with the exhibition. All details here.

The School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) is holding it’s annual Open House on Friday afternoon and evening. Check out works by students for sale, grab a coffee, tour all the facilities, and chat with students and teachers.

Speaking of photography, on Saturday afternoon, Laura Letinsky will be in town to discuss her still life photographs with University of Ottawa professor Penny Cousineau-Levine here at the Carleton University Art Gallery. Her photographs challenge how we see and her techniques are meticulous, so I am excited to hear from Letinsky herself!

Also this weekend is 260 Fingers, the exhibition of ceramic artists from Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. These artists produced incredible work, so definitely check this one out. It’s happening all weekend long (with a vernissage on Friday evening) at the Glebe Community Centre.

6ottarts, ottawa art scene,

Upcoming event at CUAG: DOUBLE MAJOR: November Edition

Food Addictions + Global Surrogacy

Tuesday, 12 November 2013, 7:00 p.m.

Join us for the third installment of CUAG’s lecture series DOUBLE MAJOR, where we’ll hear from two passionate experts, each speaking for 20 minutes about their subject, after which there will be a Q&A addressing both topics. One speaker is from the Ottawa-Gatineau community, and one is from the Carleton community. DOUBLE MAJOR is a fun and friendly way to stimulate discussion of seemingly disparate topics, and to make new connections between people and ideas. Props encouraged!

Food Addictions (Cindy Deachman) and Global Surrogacy (Vida Panitch)

DOUBLE MAJOR is held at CUAG. Lectures start at 7pm.

DOUBLE MAJOR is brought to you by Carleton University Art Gallery and the Carleton University Alumni Association.

Speakers:
Cindy Deachman has been writing for almost twenty years now. Her work has appeared in various magazines and newspapers—Ottawa Magazine, Carleton University Magazine, and University Affairs, amongst others. From 2001-2003, she published Burnt Toast, a magazine about food, science, and art.

Vida Panitch’s research interests lie in the areas of distributive justice and bioethics. Her work explores the extent to which the concepts of equality, exploitation, and commodification can serve as normative guides to the just distribution of health-related goods and services, both domestically and internationally. While her doctoral work (completed at the University of Toronto in 2008) addressed the normative foundations of liberal welfare programs geared to basic need satisfaction (including the need for health), her current work examines the moral permissibility of emerging commercial health practices.

For the fall program, please visit: http://cuag.carleton.ca/index.php/exhibitions/doublemajor/

Discount parking passes ($4.00 flat rate) will be available for sale at the tunnel entrance near P6 commencing at 6:30 pm. For a map, directions, and parking information see “directions” under “visiting” on CUAG’s web site.

6Double Major,

Now on view: Laura Letinsky, Untitled #31 (from The Dog and the Wolf series), 2009. Chromogenic colour print. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

When asked about exposure time in her photographs, Chicago-based photographer Laura Letinsky answered: “For me, sometimes it’s several hours. Some of The Dog and the Wolf photographs are a long, long exposure, as they were taken at this certain time of night, which is called “the dog and the wolf.” It’s a French phrase referring to when the sun is sinking but there is still light. I wanted to explore that different quality of light because of how it feels.”

You can see more photographs from this series, as well as her earlier work, in Laura Letinsky: Still Life Photographs, 1997-2012, now on view at CUAG.

Source.

6medium, current exhibitions, laura letinsky, photography,

Collection Friday! 
Gerald Trottier (b. Ottawa, 1925), The Mocking of Our Lord, 1953.
Watercolour, ink, and graphite on paper. 
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Canon EOS 5D Mark II
ISO
200
Aperture
f/9
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1/2th
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100mm

Collection Friday!

Gerald Trottier (b. Ottawa, 1925), The Mocking of Our Lord, 1953.

Watercolour, ink, and graphite on paper. 

6collection, collection friday, gerald trottier, medium,

Ottawa Art Scene: Nov 1 - 6

As everyone comes down from their sugar high, let’s check out what’s happening this weekend in the visual arts.

If you haven’t been to the cool artist-run space of Enriched Bread Artists, this weekend is the perfect time to do it. This year’s Open Studio ends this weekend with a couple of interesting-sounding talks. On Friday night, the EBA artists will talk about their experience at Quartair in The Hague, and on Saturday afternoon, Cindy Stelmackowich, Jenny McMaster & Daniel Sharp will discuss their recent residencies in Canada and abroad. It’s a great chance to wander through the studios and chat with some local artists.

On Saturday night, Victoire Boutique will be keeping their doors open late for the vernissage of a Support Local exhibition called Craftwork, which features a collection of hand-knitted, embroidered, and cross-stitched art pieces made by Ottawa locals Julie Gibbons and Natalie Eedson. Come for the cute works (examples here) and stay for the town. pizza!

The Forum Lecture Series is back this fall, with Carleton’s Azreili School partnering with the National Gallery of Canada to bring some of the world’s most exciting and high profile architects to Ottawa. On Monday night, London-based Martha Schwartz will be giving a talk on her design philosophy, which focuses on artistic expression in the landscape. I can’t wait for this.

Have a great weekend!

6ottarts, architecture, support local,

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