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A&AJ Critical Writing, Art & Public Space, New Books, Uncategorized

The Art-Architecture Complex by Hal Foster. Review by Rowan Moore. The Guardian. 16/9/2011

The Guardian architecture critic, Rowan Moore, asks “Is it a good idea if architects start seeing themselves as artists?” …and reviews an argument in The Art-Architecture Complex by art theorist Hal Foster, Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, who analyzes the global style in iconic art and architecture to “reveal the gap between the reported effects of buildings and art pieces, and their actual ones.”

“The Serpentine Gallery in London, a place dedicated to visual art, presents an annual pavilion, designed by an architect, as if it were the work of an artist, which is then sold to collectors. Architects themselves profess to be inspired, with varying degrees of credibility, by the likes of the American artist James Turrell. “Minimalism” has turned from an artistic movement to an architectural style to an interior design option. Office towers purport to be “sculptural”, or else use tricks of perception borrowed from conceptual art. This co-mingling is the subject of The Art-Architecture Complex and, according to the book’s author Hal Foster, it is “now a primary site of image-making and space-shaping in our cultural economy”. As the half-sinister title suggests, with its echoes of Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial complex, and the suggestion of complexes in the psychological sense, the merging of art and architecture is not necessarily a good thing. It can become, suggests Foster, a means of blurring our consciousness, a new opiate of the people supplied by corporations and governments as they use “iconic” artworks and buildings to sell cities and property to investors.” Rowan Moore

See the full review in the Guardian.


Hal Foster. Art-Architecture Complex. published by Verso. 5 September 2011.  ISBN 9781844676897. £20.

Hal Foster is Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. A co-editor of October magazine and books, he is the editor of The Anti-Aesthetic, and the author of Design and CrimeRecordingThe Return of the RealCompulsive Beauty and The Art-Architecture Complex.


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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