Tuesday, December 26, 2006

For the Love of Architecture

Look what I got for Christmas! I've been wanting this book for so long now. After multiple trips to New York City in 2005, my parents bought me "One Thousand New York Buildings" for my birthday that year and when I discovered that there was a "sister" book focused on Paris...well, my mother effectively picked up on my excitement and she had this stashed away for many months! As everyone tore through their gifts on Christmas Eve, I was two into my stack when I opened this book and I'm sure I spent a good 20 minutes just dorking out with this book before I got back into the family festivities.

Architecture has always drawn me in effortlessly. That is how art works in general and I wonder how much nature it is versus nurture. Regardless, different forms of art draw different people in and to varying degrees. While I truly appreciate most forms of art, some...like poetry...take a more focused effort on my part to appreciate. With architecture however...it just really gets me, and often with no warning. Buildings captivate me in an instant and powerful way. When I first came upon the Louvre...my jaw dropped and remained in that position for the entire time. The magnificence, enormity, detail, and history.

Obviously, Paris does not disappoint where architecture is concerned! Everywhere I turned in Paris, I was continuously awestruck by a church, government building, museum, or just a neighborhood of apartments. From cross vaults, flying buttresses, and pointed arches of gothic architecture to mansart rooftops, the influence of Baron Haussmann (acknowledging that his positive influence architecturally also had some damaging effects), the controversial architecture of Centre Pompidou and I.M. Pei's glass pyramids of the Louvre...I was constantly in awe. Even in New York, I find myself beguiled by buildings, particularly those built in the classic Beaux Arts style - Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, and the Flatiron Building are great examples.

In part, I think growing up on the West Coast of the United States has something to do with my fascination with architecture. We just don't have the depth of history that the East Coast and Western Europe have. Also, again adding to my love of France, the French have historically always placed a high value on the arts (including architecture), so much so that preserving art forms has been a government priority. Here in America, the mentality of "tear down the old and replace with the new" seems predominant. That mentality definitely does not prevail in France (nor many other countries for that matter). While in Paris, I really enjoyed the harmonious coexistence of old and new.

So, on that note, here are a few architectural "elements" I captured during my trip:

*Both "One Thousand Buildings of Paris" and "One Thousand New York Buildings" are incredible. They are beautifully done, organized by arrondissement/burough with black and white snapshots of the façades of these buildings with a brief but incredibly interesting history/background/related story of the building accompanied by the address/location, architect(s) name(s) and the year(s) of construction/completion. The descriptions are often witty, always enlightening. I definitely recommend them both.


Cavalock said...

Wow! Those are really very impressive shots.

Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Wow, wonderful picures B. These are beautiful in a variety of ways. Your passion really shines through with this work.

By no means do I discriminate, but am partial to the west coast. The spanish heritage architecture in San Diego is breathtaking. I don't know if you have had the opportunity to visit Balboa Park, or taken a stroll through the historic gaslamp area in San Diego but should you ever decide to, possibly with someone special, you must take your camera and open soul. It is quite a delight.

Beautiful work though, breathtaking.

Another gem that I may recommend would be Christchurch, New Zealand. In particular, the Cathedral Square is magnificent. Take a look for yourself...


b said...

Cavalock...thank you. Believe me, my photography skills are seriously lacking. Fortunately for me however, Paris is full of beauty and you can literally close your eyes and snap away to easily catch some wonderful shots! Happy Holidays to you as well!

Anonymous...yes, please don't get me wrong. While the west coast is certainly younger, there is a lot of beautiful architecture to be found here. I lived in San Diego briefly and the Spanish Heritage architecture truly is wonderful. I'd like to go back sometime and enjoy it more fully. I was in my early 20s when I lived there and although I enjoyed it then, I think I would appreciate it so much more now. I will certainly also check out that link you provided to Christchurch.

Isn't it interesting how we are each drawn in by different geographical locations/destinations, much like our differing preferences where art is concerned? While Paris, New York, and Western Europe seem to draw me in the most, I am always open to the possibility and beauty of other places.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Richard said...

You needn't be so modest about your photography skills.

Architecture does not really do much for me. I am more inspired by natural beauty to manmade artifices. This is not to say that I do not enjoy understanding and exploring manmade things - if only to know, "how did they do it?" or "how does it work?"

busybee said...

Just dropping by, after reading your comment at Richard's post saying, "

I too am baffled by those who get bored so easily." I am just the opposite. :) Boring things/people can captivate me if only I give myself a chance to handle them for 5 mins. I can have very short attention span and yet very engrossed.

So though I don't have time to admire beautiful architures, they quickly captivate me when I have a chance to see them, like now. :)

b said...

richard...well, let's put it this way, I definitely won't brag about my "skills" where photography is concerned. Haha. I too love natural beauty. I am particularly enamored with the sky and moon. But architecture really fascinates me in an obviously different way. There is so much tied into this art form...history, ideology, etc.

busy bee...thanks for stopping by. Isn't it amazing what makes different people tick? I NEVER feel bored. Restless at times, but definitely not bored. My mind is insanely overactive and I really can get caught up in something easily.

I think that even though we may not have all the time we want to fully admire and learn about art forms, their beauty undeniably has an effect upon us...one that we really only need acknowledge briefly to appreciate. Passing by old houses or seeing the color of the sky change...all take but a quick moment to admire and appreciate. Those brief moments are the most powerful in my life.