The Impact of Organic Art on Architecture & Sculpture

The Impact of Organic Art on Architecture & Sculpture
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  • 0:01 Organic Art
  • 0:41 Biomorphism
  • 1:19 Organic Art in Sculpture
  • 2:07 Organic Art in Architecture
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts is an adjunct instructor in English, film/media studies and interdisciplinary studies.

Learn about the architects, designers, and sculptors who developed the style of biomorphism in early 20th-century art. Explore the design principles and philosophies of biomorphic abstraction and organic architecture.

Organic Art

What is the allure of the hobbit hole? Why does it seem idyllic? Pastoral? Sublime? Part of its appeal is in the architectural melding of livable structure and existing landscape. This approach sums up the design aesthetic of organic architecture. Recent 21st-century examples of organic art include the art of Andy Goldsworthy and the fashionable interior accessories you can find at Ikea or Target. But the design aesthetic of organic architecture was born out of a particular style of early 20th-century art that sought to translate the forms found in nature into unique pieces of art.

Biomorphism

Artists began adopting the principles of natural form as a particular aesthetic beginning in the early 20th century. The style gained firmer footing in the 1930s as artists rejected the inspiration from science and technology, and the aesthetic of plastic and metal, seen in earlier forms of modern art. Instead, artists began turning to the inspiration found in nature as well as the broader trend of abstract art. Artists who embraced the philosophy of biomorphism sought to translate the principles of natural form into their work, channeling the look of organic objects and mimicking the flow of natural currents, such as water and wind.

Organic Art in Sculpture

The sculpture of Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi translates the flow and patterns found in nature into designed objects. Drawing on the folk arts, Brancusi pioneered the style of biomorphism as early as the first decade of the 20th century. He exhibited at the famous 1913 armory show. Similarly, American artist Alexander Calder's recognizable mobiles convey the careful balance of environmental systems. In turn, Brancusi inspired British sculptor Henry Moore, who later brought the style of biomorphism to broader recognition and popularity. He wrote in 1937, ''There are universal shapes to which everyone is subconsciously conditioned and to which they can respond if their conscious control does not shut them off.''

Organic Art in Architecture

Biomorphism in architecture is most readily identifiable in the weird and wonderful style of Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish Catalan designer whose Barcelona buildings verge on the surreal. Gaudi is known for translating organic form into architectural constructions. The philosophy of organic art also arises in the style practiced by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He pioneered a form of organic architecture in which he upheld the tenets of integration of natural form into architectural construction. Wright drew inspiration from the site's physical landscape and the beauty of nature, finding ways to integrate new structures into the existing landscape. For example, his architecture featured natural colors. He tried to integrate natural foliage into the design, building in places for gardens and trees. He made it look like his buildings were growing out of the existing landscape to give the impression of symbiosis.

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