August 5, 2011
monster cy
Untitled, 2006 (Image by Author)
Cy Twombly at Home, Rome, 1966 (source)


Architectural educators often rely on the precedent to make distinctions between good and bad architecture. Works by esteemed practitioners such as Herzog and de Meuron, or Sejima and Nishizawa are dissected and documented in an effort to determine what makes them successful as buildings and as works of art. While important lessons may be learned, the danger of such idolatry for the nascent designer is in its capacity to influence. Architecture schools, which should be places of free exploration and experimentation instead become factories for the production of architectural pastiches, or collages, inspired by a few great men. Once naive and unpredictable thinkers, admirable qualities in youth, are transformed into mediocre purveyors of good taste.


E. Sean Bailey


Cy Twombly drew deep inspiration from classical mythology and allegory. Recalling an artist with similar antique interests, he said ‘I would’ve liked to have been Poussin, if I’d had a choice, in another time’.


Twombly produced gestural works which bore scrawls resembling names such as ‘Virgil’. Roland Barthes claimed that though Twombly produced images that resembled words, they were stripped of their meaning – mere traces.


His home, a palazzo on the Via di Monserrato in Rome, like his works, evocatively represents articles originating in the distant past, in a present context.


Erandi de Silva



2 Responses to “INFLUENCE”

  • Erandi de Silva says:


    Sean, I agree that critics can play an important role in reinforcing tendencies of mediocre regurgitation. While a critic’s job is to be skeptical and make a student aware of the weaknesses in their project, there seems to be a tendency among some critics to validate projects simply based on their resemblance to other accepted projects. While there is an obvious logic to this mode of thinking (if a proposal draws heavily on accepted modes of production, how bad could it be), it creates a situation where exploring and experimenting for oneself puts a student in risky territory.


    While a student must effectively communicate their position, defending new inventions will often pose more difficulty than copying established methods. Some critics may immediately assume that the student has deviated from a well-worn path out of utter ignorance. Accordingly, original decision-making may be discounted as erroneous. Students are learning and will inevitably make mistakes; rote emulation, without intention, should be counted among them.

  • Kari Rittenbach says:

    **requisite Harold Bloom reference**

    writers are the best readers, etc. this must always be the case when it comes to expression that takes a particular form (for example, painting) but whether the ‘anxiety’ is self-directed or externally imposed is probably most significant or at least most dependent on the structure of the author’s field (poets can self-publish, for architecture this is a slightly different predicament).



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