“As architects, we have a unique opportunity to come up with ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a fairer and more optimistic future together,” Lesley Lokko says – architect, architecture professor, and curator of the 2023 Venice Biennale. Tomorrow, the doors of an exhibition that promises to amaze, disrupt, and confirm the role of architecture in the world will officially open. However, what is architecture? A somewhat scientific definition that stems from the Greek word ἀρχιτέκτων (architéktōn), composed of ἀρχή (árche: beginning, origin) and τέκτων (técton: art, technique). Architect: the first creator.
Architecture is often an iconographic representation, an allusion, a metaphor that celebrates a language, a cultural authority. The Venice Biennale represents the hyperbole of a concept, a concrete metonymy, the emphasis of an idea that over the years has become a substantial and undoubtedly cultural need.
Painting and architecture are considered sister disciplines that unfold and modulate through sometimes different and sometimes very similar topics. The painting itself addresses the theme through allegories that synthesize and explain their absolute symbiosis.
Critics often focus on the mix visitors meet in the several Biennale pavilions that alternately exhibit art or architecture. Many see no difference from one year to the next, yet the names of the artists or architects undoubtedly emphasize the distance in the changing. Painting and architecture are considered sister disciplines that unfold and modulate through sometimes different and sometimes very similar topics. The painting itself addresses the theme through allegories that synthesize and explain their absolute symbiosis.
Francesco Rustici – a Sienese painter active in the first half of the 17th century – painted an interesting Allegory of Painting and Architecture. The work is around 130x100 cm and is now preserved in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Two women. Their garments fall leaving their chests barely bare, ending in ample draperies in which the sleeves take shape. They talk to each other, exchanging ideas and opinions, each about their own subject. In the foreground there is the Painting, holding brushes and a palette, skillfully fitting them together in one hand. The other hand seems to indicate something, perhaps one of her paintings, perhaps a third figure called upon to arbitrate their reflections. The Architecture is just in the background. She holds a drawing, a sketch, probably a watercolor showing a construction. The discussion appears sober and sophisticated. Two extremely sensual women who expose their knowledge.
There are well-known artists who dealt with both disciplines during their careers, focusing more on one discipline as Michelangelo Buonarroti or Leonardo da Vinci, who, besides being an excellent painter, was also an architect, scientist, and engineer. So, what are the differences? What are the ones found in the Biennale exhibition? The topic is delicate and undoubtedly already discussed.
Michelangelo himself states, “Architecture is nothing but order, arrangement, beautiful appearance, the proportion of parts, convenience, and distribution.” Vasari counters, linking painting to sculpture: “I say, therefore, that sculpture and painting are truly siblings, born of a father who is drawing, in a single birth and at one time; and they do not precede one another except as much as the virtue and strength of those who carry them forward allows one creator to surpass another; and not by any difference or degree of nobility that truly exists between them.” And does not architecture arise from a drawing?