16 October 2005

Modern Artists, Religious Architecture

I’m not nearly as interested in architecture as I am in art. Not that architecture isn’t fascinating; it is. But it takes a lot for me to get beyond the do-I-like-it-or-not point with architecture. I get hung up on whether or not I would like to be in a certain building, which I guess is not too different from those people who evaluate contemporary art based on what it might look like hanging above their couch. That’s really not the best way to judge a work of art, and I suppose my approach to architecture is equally insufficient.

There are some works of architecture that really grab my attention. Among them are buildings designed by artists. Because it is Sunday, the examples are churches. Because I am Mary Ann, my examples are modern.

The first is the Rothko Chapel. It is located in Huston Texas, and is about 34 years old. It is minimal, non-denominational, and filled with the works of Mark Rothko. Technically, Mark Rothko isn’t the architect, but he was involved in every stage of the building’s design and production. It functions not only as a chapel, but also as a museum, performance hall, and lecture forum.

The second is the Matisse Chapel. It is located in Vence, France, and is about 54 years old. It is a Dominican chapel, and Matisse personally designed every last scrap of it. Religious services are still held there.

Neither chapel strikes me as being particularly impressive as architecture goes. Even my limited appreciation of architecture is sufficient to deduce that. When compared to other “interesting” architecture, it is clear that these chapels are woefully simple, and it is certainly the artist’s involvement that is to blame for my interest in them. Also woefully simple is my appraisal of them, that though I have never been to see them, I think I would like to. I think I would like to sit down and just be there for a while.

I’ll write something about interesting architecture in the future.

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