Sektion 8: Formanalyse und Formfindung in Zeiten computergenerierter Architektur
Samstag, 26. März 2022, 10:00–10:30 Uhr, HP, Hörsaal 2.01
Victoria H. F. Scott, St. John’s (Neufundland)

From Modernism to Parametricism: Art, Architecture and Objecthood since 1945

There have been several attempts to apply Michael Fried’s writings about art and objecthood to architecture but none of them inspire confidence. This paper seeks to use Fried’s ideas to tie together the central physical and philosophical concerns of both art and architecture since 1945. The fundamental principle of Fried’s influential 1967 essay was that great works of art are autonomous, and what makes them so compelling is that they constantly test and redefine the limits of their respective ontological categories. In other words, the most advanced modernist painting tests the limits of what a painting is, in both form and content, and the most advanced modernist sculpture tests the limits of what a sculpture is, in both form and content. The tension produced by this continual redefinition of the form is exactly what makes any great work of art – and arguably any great work of architecture – forceful, captivating and enduring.

Though Fried was the first to explain the mechanics of modernism in these terms, what made his claims so convincing (infuriatingly convincing for many) was that they effortlessly combined the hard-hitting writing style of Clement Greenberg with the gravity and ambition of the best German philosophy, from which Fried derived so many of his insights. The essay has always been controversial, and the fact that it remains so, over fifty years later, is proof of its importance.

One of the features of Fried’s argument that upset people, and continues to upset people, is that he declined to provide his readers with a handy checklist to guide their own aesthetic judgements. In an exchange with the art historian T. J. Clark, in the early eighties, Fried made it clear that what made advanced works of art, advanced works of art, was that they engaged dialectically, with whatever came before them. There was and would never be any kind of easy formula for what makes a great work of art great, because the terrain in question, and the larger context out of which great works of art emerge, was and is always changing.

The architectural movement known as Parametricism made this point crystal clear, as it involved the whole reconceptualization of what a building was, and what a building could do – even a whole reinvention of how buildings came into existence – pushing the limits of our collective understanding of what a building actually was and/or could be, not to mention the whole category of architecture itself.
Kurzbiografie Victoria H. F. Scott
2001–2010PhD at SUNY Binghamton, New York (“Silkscreens and Television Screens: Maoism and the posters of May and June 1968”) Publication and curatorial internships at The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and The Dallas Museum of Art
2008–2016teaching positions at Alfred University, SUNY Binghamton, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth, Emory and the Memorial University of Newfoundland
since 2016independent scholar
Forschungs- bzw. Arbeitsschwerpunkte Art and Architecture since 1945
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