What Came First: The Building or the Art?

It's the age old question, and one that has been troubling creatives and theorists for years, if not centuries: From where do artists get inspiration? While the creative footprint left over the years serves as some kind of clue, it's often unclear as to what specifically informed works of art, or how particular movements came to pass. In many cases, we blindly accept the fact that, inexplicably, a huge group of disparate creatives happened to have the same sort of aesthetic brainwave at the same time, resulting in a collection of diverse but not entirely disparate works of art. Of course, historians will tell us that it was the sociological and political events of certain periods that were responsible for the births of artistic movements and while there is certainly truth to this fact, it might be worth turning our attention elsewhere to get to the root of the matter.

Chicago recently attempted to find an answer. Last winter, the Volume Gallery held an exhibition entitled "Converging Lines", an event which aimed to unpick the relationship between architecture and culture. In many of the works on show, the artists suggested that it was the presence of architecture throughout history that informed our cultural movements, the creatives at the time having taken influence from the buildings and shapes with which they surrounded themselves. Looking at the works, it's not hard to see why this idea has been put forward by so many creatives; across the board, architectural symbols and shapes repeat themselves in art, manipulated ever so slightly by the creatives behind What Cahem. Looking at the world as an architectural playground, artists were naturally inspired by the builds at the time, incorporating them into their works.

While movements that span the fine arts, music, cinema and photography are very common indeed, we rarely think about how creative ideas can make their way into building styles, or vice versa. With the arrival of the 20th century, the ways in which architecture was considered underwent massive change. For so many years seen as functional and industrial, buildings became a site of rapid change, with architects using them as canvases for experimentation. Movements like Bauhaus, Art Deco and Expressionism aimed to bridge the gap between construction and so called "culture" showing how actually, it was the places in which we lived that could inspire us to see the world anew.

This idea, however, was hardly new information and it was only during the years of the industrial revolution that architecture fell by the cultural wayside. The intricate rococo style of the Baroque era directly correlated to the the flowery musical style at the time; the spires and towers of gothic architecture were later mirrored in literature. No matter where you look in history, architecture links to and often directly influences how creatives at the time saw the world; it's all a matter of perspective.