Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Minimalism and Impressionism


Sunrise - 1873 - Monet

The foundations or Minimalism were laid in the early 1960’s with the earliest work of Pete Dye. It’s well understood that he was trying to draw attention by creating something polar opposite to founder of Modernism Robert Trent Jones. While Pete moved on to different ideas a short decade later, a small group of architects took note at the early work with interest and the movement survived in thought.

In the 19th century art was dominated in France by the Royal Academies of Art which not only ran schools of instruction, but held an annual exhibition where the latest art could be seem and hopefully create critical notice for the painter. These institutions through their power and influence essentially established institutions public taste and official patronage. People bought and supported the artists that they made popular.

Interestingly in the 1970’s and 1980’s Golf Magazines made certain architects celebrities and created a scenario where you needed to hire one of the celebrity architects to keep up with the Jones’s.

In the middle to late 1800’s an important artistic movement was emerging, but the critics who ran the Salon generally ignored the work declaring it incomplete or poorly executed. They felt that most works were illustrative rather than finished pictures. The standard for the day was a very regimented and realistic composition based largely around themes of military and religion. The critics of the day simply excluded the Impressionist pieces, or if they allowed it they would place it well up the walls to limit the accessibility for the public.

Sand Hills - canvas by Josh Smith

In the early 1990’s the Minimalist Movement was still largely ignored until Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s were commissioned to create Sand Hills. Not only was the work spectacular, but their philosophy and approach caught many people’s attention including critics. The incorporating of nature, the minimal earthmoving and the idea of giving players greater opportunity for self-expression all hit a cord with a new generation of architects wanting to express themselves differently than the popular architects of the day. They had their example and this became the game changer for golf design, but society remained focused on Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Stadium Golf.

The Impressionists, including Monet, Degas, Pissarro and Sisley, eventually decided to organize a group called the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. They organized their own exhibition in Paris to showcase their works without the same limitations and politics found in the Salon. Change did not come overnight, but a few critics like Edmond Duranty described the collective works as a revolution in painting.

 In 1999 Mike Keiser started Bandon Dunes which would be the tipping point with the work at Pacific Dunes ushering in a new era of design.

The Impressionists paintings stood out from their contemporaries for their use of bright colors instead of sombre tones. They dared to use colour to create light and shade rather than the established technique of applying white and black. Even the darkened finish of heavy lacquer was often not used leaving the brash and exuberant hues and colours on full display. New paints had brought in a richer colour palette which were not only embraced but featured in works. But the real change was the subject matter. They revelled in modern Paris life capturing the excitement in the air of a city in flux. The painters captured life around Paris in all its moods and intrigue.

Modern Architecture evolved into a game played against an architect who controlled not only every aspect but also demanded the course be played as they had set out, whereas Minimalism gave the player the freedom to choose their own path and create their own experience through self-expression.

By 1886 the Impressionist movement had exploded out to include new forms of exploration and new techniques. More artists pushed the boundaries and the Impressionist movement blossomed.

The critics and public have clearly embraced Minimalism to a point where the leading Minimalists are now the darlings of the press. Their peers and their protégée’s have also ascended to gain key commissions and gain recognition. What’s interesting is a new group of younger architects have redefined the roll of an architect and are pushing the definition of Golf Course Architect. The Golden Age grew out from people like Colt to include Mackenzie, Tillinghast and Thomas. But it also provided room for more eccentric artists like Raynor, Thompson and Strong.

With the emergence of the internet and the slow death of magazines and newspapers, careers can now come from almost anywhere.
 
The Impressionists no longer need the Salon!

 

3 comments:

  1. Malcolm Gladwell's new book spent a chapter discussing the Salon and the Impressionist Painters, as always a good read. If this was not your inspiration for writing this piece I suggest picking it up. In the book, he was talking about his "big fish, little pond" theory. The impressionists decided against placing their work in the Salon (which they tried at first) because, at best, they would have 1 painting among hundreds (probably in the rafters where nobody would be able to see it). Instead, they created their own show to "compete" with the Salon, thus making themselves big fish in their own little pond, able to stand out from the crowd.
    Gladwell compared this to students at Ivy League schools, particularly in the math and science fields, who struggle in comparison to their classmates. Because their field is so deep and so talented they are just average at Harvard. When they fall behind, they are more likely to drop out of their field and give up on their dreams. Whereas if they had chosen a slightly less competitive school, they would be at the top of their class and still on their way personal fulfillment, at the very least.
    Unknowingly, I think the minimalist Golf Architects have created their own small pond, and now they are reaping the rewards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ryan,

    I enjoyed your thoughts. Now that was a very interesting take on why Minimalism or the Minimalist architects are currently front and centre in the industry in "North America". If you include all the work being done in areas like China and Asia, I would expect that Modern Architecture is still building more projects.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for that wee essay Ian! I always enjoy pieces that make connections from golf to other artistic endeavours and that was quite neat!
    Colin

    ReplyDelete