Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-10-2015

Amazingly, and I do not use that word lightly, New York City is still a treasure trove of architectural details.  The juxtaposition of old and new architecture in the CITY is often jarring, especially when no attempt is made to reconcile building style or even purpose within an area.  Take for example a row of brownstones c. 1900 and, end the visual line with a glass and metal cube bank or drug store.  The brownstones are graceful with ornamentation of stylized designs around the windows and doorways.  There are stately columns with carved capitols at the entryway and intricate wrought iron or sculpted stone railings.  Then the eye is diverted to a recently erected antiseptic glass structure lacking any sort of character other than a business logo.

NYC once encapsulated elegance in architecture and architectural detail.  Materials were freely used and lavished with ornamentation.  Several reasons caused the rise of relatively inexpensive ornament-free structures in recent years.  Practically speaking, the City has grown enormously and the need for workable space with it.  The artfully constructed buildings of the past are now deemed (perhaps rightfully) inefficient in offering maximum space and acceptable technology logistics. Cost is a prevailing factor in almost all construction decisions today.  In yesteryear there was apparently money to spend and much thought given to the look of the City.  It seems that today people with the purse strings are looking only at the bottom line.  Finally, the master masons, sculptors, craftsmen and artisans are not the legions they once were.  The waves of immigrants seeking a new life in New York in the 1800's and early 1900's no longer bring their expertise in artistic building with them to the City.  And those whose grandparents or great-grandparents were artisans have rarely followed in their ancestors' footsteps.

When I chance upon architecture beautified with architectural detail, I stop to reflect, with respect, on the marvelous past that New York City enjoyed in its architecture and design.  And, once in a while I will be buoyed by a new building that hosts my eye to the pleasures of exquisite architecture, art and craft.   

 Black and white architectural photography

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