Sculpture Journal

The ideal of architecture as sculpted mass during the interwar period

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (3), 343–360.

Abstract

Interwar theories about sculpture, particularly ideas about direct carving and significant form, had more of an influence on architecture in Britain than has generally been acknowledged. Since buildings are produced by teams of craftsmen, the act of ‘sculpting’ becomes an imaginary one – a part of the design process. Giles Gilbert Scott liked to imagine carving buildings out of blocks of stone or a cliff face. It gave the design process mystical overtones, a meditation that guided the architect’s creation of significant form. Urged on by art critics with an interest in three-dimensional form, architects from Scott to Lutyens to T. H. Hughes came to see sculpting the wall plane as a key artistic duty. Driven by theories of formalism as well as mystical ideas about geometric order, they explored the same concepts as avant-garde sculptors. This article explores the ways in which some interwar architects conceived buildings as frankly sculptural objects.

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Author details

Lewis, David Frazer