Painting toward architecture press release (1948)

The following is a copy of the original press release prepared by the Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art. This show travelled to at least 27 venues across the US and generated significant art, design, architecture and popular press media coverage (1947-52). Click the link at the bottom to see the impressive media coverage results.

Press release

Opening (date) at (museum) is an exhibition entitled PAINTING TOWARD ARCHITECTURE. The Miller Company of Meriden, Connecticut has assembled this collection of "modern" painting and sculpture with the intention of illustrating with actual examples the kind of abstract art which has already had a historical influence on modern architecture, and contemporary work which perhaps has something to offer to the contemporary architect.

The historical group includes pictures by the Cubists Picasso, Braque and Gris, whose reduction of form to simplified planes and cubes so influenced architects of the twenties to desert the imitation of ornamental, historical styles and to design clean, simple buildings whose functional shape was their essential beauty. A composition by van Doesburg who has such a profound effect on the architects of the Bauhaus, Gropius, Oud and Mies van der Rohe, illustrates that close point of contact in 1923 when a painted picture seemed to be a three-dimensional rendering of the architects’ two-dimensional plan of free moving space controlled by free-standing planes. A sketch by Leger indicates the beginning of the artists’ fascination for the precision of machinery, the strong cylindrical forms which have been endlessly repeated in domestic and industrial architecture. A further precision, one of mathematical proportion, the symmetrical balance of composition, is on the black lines and regulated statement of a classical Mondrian. A large Kandinsky, "Animated Stability", is illustration of the fact that even the rigidity of geometric form does not require symmetrical arrangement. They are organized freely in space, overlapping and on the diagonal wherever they seem to be required by the composition. The modern architect, rejecting symmetry, organized freely in any way which the efficiency, beauty and volume of his rooms dictates. A wood relief by Hans Arp, a textured, curved form, suggests that architects took not only the sharp angle from painters but learned to combine it with graceful curving shapes. Klee’s contribution to the subject seems to be that even the finest art or architecture cannot be achieved solely through the intellectual, analytical process but requires something of intuition, delicacy and pictorial imagination.

In the group of contemporary paintings there are certain qualities which seem made to order for the inspiration of architects. In Stuart Davis, the use of oblique lines and new textures; in Merida, the freeing of color from the limitations of form and shape; in Pereira, the use of transparency; in Tunnard, the combination of geometric forms with natural ones, and so on.

Sculpture, a medium already dealing with three-dimensional space, has nevertheless been considered previously as merely an ornament for architecture. The work of Amino, Callery and de Rivera, for instance, have more fundamental suggestions about space and transparency to make to the architect.

There is to be a catalogue of the collection by Henry-Russell Hitchcock which is in the process of publication. It will consist of a discussion of the relation between painting and architecture and a short commentary on each of the pictures reproduced. Most of them will be in color.

The exhibition will be at Hartford from December 11th to January 3rd, 1948. It will then be sent to Eastern and Midwestern museums, including Minneapolis, Akron, Baltimore, and Milwaukee. In June the West Coast Art Association will assume scheduling of it for the summer months. After that it will return to other eastern and mid-western museums.

The Miller Company are manufacturers of modern lighting equipment and since 1840 [sic] have been leaders in the field of lighting. With the advent of the fluorescent tube as a source of light, they believe that lighting is no longer merely an afterthought to be installed in a building after it has been built, but a functional and structural element which should be "designed into" the building by the architect. They have, therefore, become interested in contemporary architectural design. This interest has led them to make this collection of painting and sculpture which has had such a bearing on architectural development and may be of future use of architects.


1: Painting toward architecture - artworks | 2: Painting toward architecture - venues, documentation, media coverage | 3: Painting toward architecture - Miller Co. press release