Learning with Landmarks: A Study on Public Art and Architecture

Chandler Householder

Chandler Householder is a second year architecture student and a Landmarks Docent. To satisfy the writing requirement for her world architecture course, she wrote Scalar Implications: Changing Effects in Aesthetic Pleasure of Art and Architecture, a study of the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime in art and architecture. She compares three Landmarks projects–Marc Quinn's Spiral of the Galaxy, Nancy Rubins' Monochrome for Austin, and James Turrell's The Color Inside–to monumental spaces and argues that scale plays a vital role in a viewer's relationship to space found within and around art and architecture. 

Here is an excerpt:

Two of the most closely related art forms throughout time are sculpture and architecture. Sculpture can be a part of architecture, sculpture can be architectural, architecture can be sculptural, a sculptor can be an architect, and an architect a sculptor. While the main concerns of both sculpture and architecture are spatial relationships within the piece itself and the viewer1, these relationships play out at very different scales. These differences in experience based on changes in scale are used strategically by both the sculptor and the architect in the communication of their own ideas and in the imposition of a certain experience upon the viewer. This is best demonstrated through the lens of the different aesthetic pleasures; The beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime. Each of these categories are focused in their expressions and representations, but how do differences between them arise on through the small scale of sculpture and large scale of architecture? Through a comparison of sculpture pieces from The University of Texas at Austin’s Landmarks public art collection and various pieces of historical architecture, the differences in a viewer’s experience can be analyzed by the scalar implications of the nature of one’s engagement, the spatial presence of the piece, and the pervasiveness of viewer experience through the lenses of the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime.

Read full essay.


sculpture of shell in front of buildling

Marc Quinn, Spiral of the Galaxy                                                  photo by Dror Baldinger


canoe sculpture in front of building

Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Austin                                                                           photo by Paul Bardagjy


interior of skyspace

James Turrell, The Color Inside                                                  photo by Serena Hayden