Sunday, October 19, 2008

Between Silence and Light

When I was a youth I had a fascination with buildings and architecture. I would pore over pictures and architectural drawings and design my own houses. This fascination faded somewhat as I grew older but within the world of art I have continued to have a special affinity for architecture, both reading about it and viewing it (I am especially looking forward to the opening of the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago).
My interest in architecture was encouraged more than four years ago when I viewed the documentary My Architect based on the life of Louis Kahn. Kahn (1902-1974) was one of the great architects of the twentieth century. John Lobell described Louis Kahn's approach to architecture best in the introduction to his book on Kahn,
Between Silence and Light:

Louis Kahn saw architecture as the meeting of the measurable and the unmeasurable. He used the word "Silence" for the unmeasurable, for that which is not yet; and the word "Light" for the measurable, for that which is. Kahn saw architecture as existing at a threshold between silence and light, which he called the Treasury of the Shadow.

The spirit of Louis Kahn and his spirituality are demonstrated again and again through his creativity, in his buildings which are still with us. Some of the greatest of these include the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (my favorite), the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the Philips Exeter Academy Library. Above all Kahn created works that preserved art through time and thought, inspiring the world in the process.

Between Silence and Light by John Lobell. Shambhala Press, Boston. 1979.

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