Architecture, like any discipline, develops its theory in words; but, together, it is capable of thinking about images. When Renaissance humanists began to expose in treatises their knowledge about the art of building they tended to combine words and illustrations. In fact, some of the most famous treatises are more like a visual atlas than a written volume. But how can the image develop a theory? The theoretical fertility of the image appears, almost by surprise, if we replace the modern conception of “theory” with the genuine meaning of the Greek voice the? Ria: visual act of “contemplation” and “speculation”, of developing a “vision”.
“Atlas of Theory (s) of Architecture”
14 February – 26 May, 2019
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Alcalá, 42, Madrid
Atlas of architecture theory (s) is a visual sample of different ways of seeing the art of building: different ways of conceiving what architecture is, how it is done and how it should be understood. Each generation of architects has needed to rewrite history from their own present and, consequently, also develop their own theory – which, like a ghost, is presented as an urgency over and over again. The theory of architecture, as demonstrated by Hanno-Walter Kruft, is formed as a multiplicity of theories of architecture that are connected, in turn, by a multiplicity of historical relationships.
The exhibition presents, in a very particular way, a wide collection of images relevant to the history of architectural theory. As a Wunderkammer, camera of wonders or cabinet of curiosities, it gathers more than fifty original documents yielded by the Canadian Center for Architecture and the Library of the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Madrid: engravings of Piranesi, Palladio or Cesariano; montages by Peter Eisenman; project presentations by Le Corbusier, Gunnar Asplund or Karl Friedrich Schinkel; conceptual drawings by Aldo Rossi or John Hejduk; unique projections by James Stirling or Auguste Choisy; advertising messages of Cedric Price or Bernard Tschumi; posters by Daniel Libeskind; archaeological surveys of Le Roy or Hittorff; or urban utopias of Scamozzi or Frank Lloyd Wright.
Like any camera of wonders, the exhibition treasures autonomous images while seeking to classify them based on potential relationships. Consequently, the visitor has several options to orient themselves in the room. You can search, among the apparent disorder, your own wonders, that is, those images that most stimulate your imagination. You can also reflect, if you wish, on the seven themes that classify the works in the room; Each set of images has an associated text, but, voluntarily, it has not been titled. Or, simply, can be distracted trying to compare the images, looking for similarities and analogies between one and another.
In its eagerness for accumulation, Atlas of Theory (s) of Architecture questions some aspects of the present state of architecture, moment that some consider drowned in a torrent of images. It is a consequence of the intense phenomenon of accumulation and acceleration of the image that characterizes our era of digital hyperstimulation. There are those who argue, with irony, that today «the form follows the image». Given this horizon, it is useful to recall the words of Francesco Milizia, undoubtedly the most influential of the theorists of architecture in Rome at the end of the eighteenth century, when he said: “But seeing is nothing: discerning is everything; and the advantage of the sublime man over the mediocre is to choose better what suits him. “He referred to the art of” examining, comparing, confronting and choosing “in the set of fine arts. Is not Milizia’s statement more contemporary than ever?