There have been many heated debates over the question whether architecture represents art?

And the argument whether architecture does constitute art probably will be never resolved. However, a new academic project by the Australian Research Council has been started to answer this very question. The project’s main aim is to examine the current impact that the art of today has on the changing concepts of architecture. It is true that architecture has been regularly exhibited in art galleries for decades, but the current trend for visual and installation art seems to be having a prolific effect on the whole situation.

Collaboration of Artists and Architects

The current trend of architects collaborating with modern artists in new projects has created a whole new exhibition-specific art form. And there is a wide demand for galleries to exhibit architectural works, the scale of such crossover works is becoming massive and the frequency of such exhibitions is rapidly increasing.

Visual Artists

Visual artists such as Do-ho Suh, Olivier Grossetete, Callum Morton, and Andrea Zittel now produce works that have a direct relation to architecture as an art discipline. And there is a rapidly growing list of artists that include Jeanne van Heeswijk and Rirkrit Tiravanija who have actually taken up architectural commissions.

Turner Prize 2015

A great insight into what the art establishment thinks about the correlation between art and architecture was the Turner Prize in 2015 which was given to Assemble, a group of architects. This was the very first time that this distinguished art award has been given to architects. Was this a signal that the art world was now recognizing architecture as a valid art discipline?

The discussions that were held after the award were to say the least heated, and the media tended to drill down upon the social engagement of the work of Assemble. It is widely believed that the growth in visual art installations proved a big factor for the award being given to architects. The collaboration of interdisciplinary partnerships between the visual arts and architecture is the main driving force that seems to be pointing to the fact that architecture is an art form.

The Australian Research Council Project

The project’s true aim is to show how contemporary culture and architecture is linked and to show the effect of visual art installations upon the whole situation. The project will research the work of artists, architects, curators and policymakers dating back to 1980 to the current day, and it will reference these against the cultural history of this art versus architecture debate. So far some of the findings have been that occasionally architecture could have been classed as art, which leaves us no nearer a definitive answer.

Whether the current visual art installation fad puts pressure on the art world to finally class architecture as art is still in doubt. Perhaps the fact that most art is practically useless in terms of practicality and that all architecture serves a purpose is the real question that we should be asking?