Personal vision, a sense of the poetic and the expressive skills of particular, unique individuals are essential to the creation of architecture. This distinguishes it from what we might call pure engineering and construction, which are the result of purely technical considerations. Works of architecture will never follow the lead of purely technical considerations and may indeed compromise them in order to achieve a different order of meaning and purpose, depending on the architect’s personal vision. In architecture of a higher order, the technical is situated in a larger conception about the world and our place within it.

The recent works of Anthony Titus—a series of wall constructions that look at first glace more like paintings than anything to do with architecture—actually inform architecture as much as the contemporary world of art. The distinction is important because these works appear in a gallery—an art-world context—that makes it easy for them to be passed over by architects without much thought.

The constructions offer us a world-view within their carefully chosen, if modest, material means. The modesty is itself a part of Titus’ world view—use only what is necessary for your purposes. And choose what is necessary according to its richness of potential to express concepts and feelings. Canvas, wood, paint. Brick, concrete, metal and glass. The latter belong to the gallery where the constructions are placed on the walls, but which are no less carefully selected by him, or so we can assume from the subtle modulations of color and texture of the total assembly—the constructions and their site. The canvas is used raw and painted, stretched tightly and in varying degrees of looseness and hanging. The wood is exposed, or hidden, or an implied presence used to weigh-down a piece of canvas. The paint is employed in the full range of its fluid possibilities, from simple, unmodulated flatness to richly varied surfaces; from stark black and white to nuanced color; from opacity to transparency. Titus has explored the expressive possibilities of the few materials methodically and with a restraint that reflects his humility before their very existence—and ours—yielding an unforced, finally lyrical complexity. They emphasize an order of inter-relationships rather than expressiveness for its own sake. Ethics before aesthetics—or, perhaps it is more precise to say, aesthetics that emerge from a personal creative ethos. I can’t think of anything more sorely needed than this in architecture today.


(above) Constructions are entitled—from top to bottom—Dream Weaver, Lazy, Eye, Get Lifted, Drop Low, Weak Faith, Hazed High, Hard Slumber. They are shown in the Kidd Yellin Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.

ANTHONY TITUS teaches architectural design at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Pratt Institute, and The Cooper Union.

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