Saturday, 24 October 2015

Hatred of the past

Graz is a city, where pre-modern architecture has been preseved in such a way, that the tasteful continuum of classical beauty as interpreted in different periods created a world of timeless elegance and poetry:

But, of course, that was not enough - a modern museum was needed. And thus, a monstrous blurb was created, demonstrating the grotesque lack of any architectrual quality or respect for its surroundings:

You can see the monster eating its way through the fabric of a thoroughly humane settlement, like some gruesome parasite. And indeed, such 'architecture' is thoroughly parasitic.

Modernism transcends the boundaries of genre. In music, this would be the intrusion of a Xenakis piece in an otherwise normal, regular orchestral concert. It is a way of thinking, of designing, which  aggressively wants to make a 'statement' in the idiom that exudes the core of the movement: hate of the 'past' and its achievements, and a strict anti-humanist stance. Modernist architecture has created a new genre of building: not architecture but 'object building'.

How do the Grazzers themselves look upon this museum? I saw an English TV programme where the moderator visited a terrace on the local mountain where he met a local couple enjoying the wide view over the city, with this eye sore in the middle. 'What do you think of that gallery?' the man asked them. The couple answered hesitatingly that they did not like it but excused themselves immediately that this was merely a subjective opinion... probably out of fear of being unexpectedly filmed as conservatives. But they confirmed that this abject object 'did not fit' within the cityscape. That was, at least, some admittance of common sense.

The Graz tourist site explains:

"A blue bubble of art. Designed by the world-famous architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, the Kunsthaus hovers elegantly and mysteriously over the right bank of the River Mur. The Kunsthaus Graz's spectacular biomorphic shape makes it an unmissable icon of the city. Its intriguing exhibition spaces attracts visitors from all over the world to view shows of Austrian and international contemporary art."

We know what kind of art will be on show..... the kind that does deserve such 'building'. But why in the heart of an old city? Why not beyond its borders, where it will merely be ugly but not intruding?

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