Collaboration: Artists and Architects


Collaboration: Artists and Architects
Spring 1981
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York City

When The Architectural League was founded in 1881, one of its principal purposes was to bring architects and other artists together. America was in the midst of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which promoted the collaboration of architects with artists and craftsmen, including such specialists as stone and wood carvers, fabric designers, and artisans in stained glass. The country was also at the beginning of what has been called the American Renaissance, which was attempting to revive the relationships that had once existed among architecture and the “fine arts,” painting and sculpture.

Over the years since 1881 the relationships among the arts have gone through several radical transformations. For a long time, collaboration among architecture and the other arts has been almost nonexistent. In the 1970s, however, the League noticed indications of a new potential for such collaboration. Artists began to show an interest in what is described as “environmental” art, and architects began to make experiments with ornament and elaboration.

As part of the activities to mark its Centennial, The Architectural League decided to organize an exhibition and book that would focus attention on the history of the collaboration among architects and other artists, discuss what has happened when artists and architects work together, and show the possibilities that could exist for collaboration in the future.

–Excerpted from Jonathan Barnett’s foreword to the exhibit’s companion book.

Carol Lawson reviewed the exhibition on March 6, 1981, in the New York Times.

Architect and artist teams commissioned to produce work for the exhibition:
Emilio Ambasz & Michael Meritet
James Freed & Alice Aycock
Frank Gehry & Richard Serra
Michael Graves & Lennart Anderson
Hugh Hardy & Jack Beal and Sondra Freckelton
Richard Meier & Frank Stella
Charles Moore & Alice Wingwall
Cesar Pelli & William Bailey
Robert A.M. Stern & Robert Graham
Stanley Tigerman & Richard Haas
Susana Torre & Charles Simonds