Peter Parler the Younger: St Vitus Cathedral, Prague by Douglas Graebner
March 25, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: architecture

One of the few gothic architects known to us by name, Parler was one of the great masters of late gothic.  Here is a non-exhaustive tour of his work for Prauge Cathedral:

St. Vitus Cathedral:


Parler’s choir vault. One of the most origninal aspects of Parler’s work was the use of net vauts like this.


Another interesting vault, this one in the “Golden Gate”.


St. Wencelaus Chapel in Prague Cathedral


Parler was also a sculptor, and he caved this self portrait as part of a series for the triforum. It quite likely that this is the oldest surviving  self-portrait in the history of western art.


Onion domes by Evan
March 2, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture

I’m rather busy trying to catch up on a few things, so enjoy a brief post with some Russian architecture in the form of onion domes.  Onion domes are a common church element which seemingly first appeared in the 1500s.

The Bapistry of San Giovanni, Florence by Douglas Graebner
February 25, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture, art

You all know the gates of paradise*, but how many of you know the building they are attached to?

The bapistry is of uncertain age, but today is considered to have been completed between 1059 and 1128. However, it is sufficiently classical in appearance that it was at one time belived to be a repurposed pagan temple.

Without further ado:


The exterior.  Note how the architect decided to split the exterior plilasters, as well as the “fake windows”.

A link to a virtual tour of the bapistry. The chairs against one door should give you an idea of the scale.


Look up.


Tomb of Antipope John XXXIII by Donatello and Michelozzo

Sikh Architecture: the Harmandir Sahib by Evan
February 23, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture

As a change of pace, I’ll give a short overview of Sikh architecture and the Harmandir Sahib, perhaps better known as the Golden Temple of Amritsar.  Sikh architecture centers around the gurdwara, where a guru lives, and the Sahib or temple.  Domes are a recurring element, as are pointed arches; unlike De Stijl or many other modernist groups, curves and intricate designs are valued, as is evidenced by the Harmandir Sahib.  This is a trait shared with other styles of Indian architecture.  What we would now call city planning is also a key component of the Sikh style; the Golden Temple compound includes some 28 structures.  On to the pictures (make sure you view the full size version of each picture).

A visit to the San Marco monastery in Florence by Douglas Graebner
February 18, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture, art

This was actually one of my favorite places in Florence, possibly because it was deserted when I was there. It is quite a fine, if not terribly dramatic, building by Michelozzo, but the real stars are the paintings.


This is the principal cloister of Michelozzo’s building. It is probably one of the more peaceful places in Florence. I think that the lunettes are by Ghirlandaio, but the crucifixion in the corner is by Angelico.


The library of San Marco, which exhibits many fine manuscripts.  I think that studying would be a great deal easier if people could study in libraries like this.

And now for some paintings:


I, too, am reminded of Man Ray. Apparently, it was painted as a visual riddle of some sort for a novice.


That painting in situ.


Another fine Angelico in its original cell.

That’s all, folks. Tune in next week for the next installment of  our “Things in Florence” miniseries.

Tel Aviv’s White City by Evan
February 16, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture

Tel Aviv has the greatest concentration of International Style buildings of any city.  The Jewish students of the Bauhaus and other influential European design houses fled to Israel in the 1930s, and their urban planning resulted in this cluster of buildings, all white (hence the name).  The area was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.  If you go to Tel Aviv, I encourage you to take a walk through the White City and take in the modernist architecture.  Guided tours are available in several languages.  For information on the history and design of the area, visit this website.  Most of the buildings are well-preserved, and in fact almost all of them are still being used.  However, a few buildings are falling into a state of external disrepair, like the Engel House, which I’ve included in the gallery below.  Also included are Asia House, which is perhaps the most iconic building of the White City, the “Thermometer House”, and the Cinema Hotel (which, as you surely guessed, was originally a cinema house).

De Stijl architecture by Evan
February 9, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: architecture, art, modern

De Stijl, when applied to architecture, is most generally associated with J.J.P. Oud, Gerrit Rietveld, and Robert van’t Hoff.  Though De Stijl was only active for about 15 years, until Theo van Doesburg’s death, the movement is still very noted in both art and architecture.  After van Doesburg’s death, though, there was no central administration, the journal came to an end, and the members basically went back to whatever they were doing before.  The members didn’t necessarily really know each other; Rietveld famously stated in 1955 that he had never met Piet Mondrian.

Stylistically, De Stijl has everything to do with primary colors and straight lines.  By a few sources, Piet Mondrian left the group because of a disagreement with van Doesburg over whether diagonal lines were as vital and fundamental as vertical and horizontal.  (Van Doesburg claimed they were, while Mondrian disagreed.)

In this post, I’ll profile each of the three major De Stijl architects and some of their works.

First, Gerrit Rietveld.  Rietveld designed the famous “Red and Blue Chair”, which is seen below; for it, he also designed a type of furniture joint that now bears his name.  Additionally, Rietveld was responsible for making what some people claim to be the only building that truly expresses De Stijl principles, the Rietveld-Schröder House, in Utrecht.  I was unable to find sufficient photos of the inside, so I encourage you to go here and take their video tour.  (Alternately, if you’re in the Netherlands, make a reservation and take the real-life tour.)

Red and Blue Chair, Gerrit Rietveld

Red and Blue Chair, Gerrit Rietveld

Rietveld Joint

Rietveld Joint

External picture of the Rietveld-Schröder House, Gerrit Rietveld, Utrecht

External picture of the Rietveld-Schröder House, Gerrit Rietveld, Utrecht

J.J.P. Oud is most famous for works in and around Rotterdam, where he served as a municipal architect during the heyday of De Stijl.  The most famous work of his that exemplifies De Stijl is the Café de Unie in Rotterdam, seen below.  After leaving De Stijl, Oud was part of the Weissenhof Estate Exhibition, where 15 modern architects designed housing.  The second picture below is of a row of five townhouses designed by Oud.

Café de Unie, JJP Oud, Rotterdam

Café de Unie, JJP Oud, Rotterdam

Weissenhof Estate housing, JJP Oud, Stuttgart

Weissenhof Estate housing, JJP Oud, Stuttgart

Robert van’t Hoff designed a bunch of stuff during the early days of De Stijl, before quitting in 1922 to go set up anarchist communities.  One of his more famous designs was a houseboat in which he and his wife lived; unfortunately, pictures do not seem to exist of it online.  What I can offer you are pictures of a house he designed near Utrecht and a banister post.

Henny House, Robert van't Hoff, Utrecht

Henny House, Robert van't Hoff, Utrecht

Banister post, Robert van't Hoff

Banister post, Robert van't Hoff

I’ll leave you with a Piet Mondrian painting: Composition in Yellow, Blue, and Red.

Composition in Yellow, Blue, and Red, Piet Mondrian

Composition in Yellow, Blue, and Red, Piet Mondrian