“Hetero or not?” and “Is this classical?” are parlor games played by members of the TradArch list, the online discussion group for classical architects. Will classicists find a particular building “canonical” or outside of the canon? Recently, a thread of this sort involving a proposed building of awkwardly assembled classical vocabulary elicited a query of whether it was “like a painting gorilla modern art critic exam?” Another query featured the evocative line “Click randomize then render.”
Oddly, stray parts of modern architecture heaped at random produce a building more rational in appearance (within its ilk) than heaping up stray parts at random from traditional architecture. That is because modern architecture is intrinsically more random in conception than traditional architecture. You’d have to think a moment or two longer to decide whether it’s a real building. It is possible that a picture of such a concoction might actually fool some people into thinking it’s a real building, perhaps by Zaha Hadid.
That should say something deeply profound about the entire project of modern architecture, indeed of modernism generally.
Here is the entry on hoaxes.org, “Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist,” about the paintings by a monkey that fooled art critics into believing they were serious works of modern art. I wrote a post in 2011 after the death of artist Cy Twombly. I wrote of a girl tried in France for kissing a blank white painting, or “painting,” by Twombly. But it was a real painting, worth real money – $2.7 million. Go figure.
The “My little boy could do that” line leaps instantly to mind. Why nobody offers my little boy Billy $2.7 million is a matter of PR, not a matter of talent. I’m not saying that Cy Twombly has no artistic talent, or that my little boy is the next Rembrandt, merely that everyone has artistic talent if it is defined so broadly. A canvas painted white? That takes balls, not talent. And if so, then it really is PR and not talent that can send you – you, dear reader! – laughing all the way to the bank.
The world is a very nutty place, and getting nuttier.
(In that post I had opined that my 3-year-old son Billy’s scribble-scrabble and dooly-dooly – terms of artistic style that I myself coined as a child – showed talent equal, at least, to that of Cy Twombly. I would repost that post here but the Journal disposed of all my old blogs in its online archive.)
I confess that I am totally confounded and mystified by the concept of a debate about heterodoxy in traditional architecture, let alone Classical architecture. Formal evolution over centuries is the sine qua non of our architectural culture, no?