Realism and Romanticism: Truth

Aristotle believed all things have reasons that make them what they are[1], the same way in which Plato believed the purest representation of something is the closest to truth and the closest a human can understand the representation[2]. Truth and certainty in design is often linked to aesthetic appropriateness in accordance to its purpose. Therefore, appreciating and understanding aesthetics gets an individual closer to knowing the truth of aesthetics. Realism and romanticism are forms and theories of design aesthetics that have been understood to be truthful during their time.

Plato contemplated “all human affairs [and nature] were in a state of flux[3]” and people were easily influenced by the environment. He believed mathematics was unchanging and created eternal forms of geometrical shapes architecture and art utilize for creation. The perception of realness is based around true knowledge of the thing or essence being captured[4]. Realism was considered the beginning of modern art and embraced progressivism, revaluating the traditional and seeking out new truths. Artists and writers utilized everyday life as inspiration, cataloging real events with accurate portrayal.[5] The appearance of the artist or writer in works was non-existent, as they were the scientific recorder of events, not the judge or critic.[6] Realism was based on observing reactions of people in situations and to report them faithfully.

Through historical awareness and search for expression, romanticism was a movement emphasizing “inspiration, subjectivity, and the primary of the individual”[7]. Romanticism was a revolt against neoclassicism, with poet Friedrich Schlegel describing the movement as depicting emotions, freedom, individualism, and spontaneity through imaginative forms[8] and a it was a rejection of the idea of imitation of body and nature[9]. Gothic revival architecture was considered the true style of architecture. Romanticism evoked Cartesian aesthetics and the idea of imagination and experience.

Contemporary design, “a sense of present needs being satisfied and expressed in contemporary forms”[10], holds both realism and romanticism truths of unbiased record and imagination. Material, technical experience, climate, and present needs, all are linked to Style, which is achieved by the building taking on visible characteristics in a practical manner. The idea of simple materials and practical functions to be truthful and excess ornamentation of the Gothic era to be untruthful to architecture can be traced back to realism’s theory of the imitation of forms being further from the ideal form and universal truth. Removing ornamentation allowed the true expression of materials to be exposed, creating honest architecture, not subjected to the architect’s bias.[11]. Venturi and Brown explored the style of communication to convey architecture within an automobile world by signifiers and symbols to evoke meaning. Attaching ornamentation to contemporary buildings romantically removed the architecture from its true rational self, and did not seek to understand its passed ornamental truths.[12] Impressionism and cubism were romantic in nature, filtered the reality that realism harshly presented, creating an abstract that evoked emotion, therefore intelligence and knowledge. Frank Lloyd Wright noted importance for seeking truth of production, method, and construction by not ignoring the machine or forcing it to mass produce imitations of past human hand products when it was designed for the creation of new styles[13].

What remained true and beautiful in every design by consistency throughout every architectural period were walls, floors, doors, and windows. These segments of a building can be considered true form, whether presented through realism or romantic ideologies. “[If] architecture keeps open the possibility of unforeseen connections among its formal and programmatic elements, it fulfills its vocation of linking up to and expanding, without necessarily negating, the sociocultural context into which it irrupts.[14]


Bibliography:

[1] Mitrović, Branko. Philosophy for architects. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. Print.

[2] Plowright, Philip. “Module 3” Truth. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[3] Mitrović, Branko. Philosophy for architects. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. Print.

[4] Mitrović, Branko. Philosophy for architects. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. Print.

[5] “Realism Movement, Artists and Major Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.theartstory.org/movement-realism.htm>.

[6] Plowright, Philip. “Module 3” Truth. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[7] Oxford Dictionaries

[8] Morner, Kathleen, and Ralph Rausch. “What is Romanticism?” Introduction to Romanticism. University of Houston, n.d. Web. <http://www.uh.edu/engines/romanticism/introduction.html>. NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chicago: NTC Publishing Group, 1997.

[9] Plowright, Philip. “Module 2” Intro Part 2. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[10] Plowright, Philip. “Module 3” Truth. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[11] Plowright, Philip. “Module 3” Truth. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[12] Venturi, Robert, and Denise Scott Brown. Learning from Las Vegas: the forgotten symbolism of architectural form. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 2000.

[13] Plowright, Philip. “Module 3” Truth. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI. Online.

[14] Hays, K. Michael., Rodolfo Machado, and Jorge Silvetti. Unprecedented realism: the architecture of Machado and Silvetti. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995. Web.

 


Class: Design Theory, Master of Architecture, Lawrence Technological University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *