1

“There is only true originality when it is within a tradition. Everything that isn’t tradition is plagiarism.” (1911).

2

Emular, según la RAE, es “imitar las acciones de otro procurando igualarlas e incluso excederlas”. Emulate. According to the RAE (Real Academy Spanish Language), is “imitate the action of another searching to equate or even exceed them.”

3

Campo Baeza, Alberto. Siempre Oiza. En Fernández, Aurora (2018). Oíza. 100 años. Ediciones Asimétricas, Madrid. Pages. 58-61

4

Baste as an example of the multiplication of the Vertical Forest of Stefano Boeri, or Bjarke Ingels systematically recurring to the “brick pavement.” But also to OMA alternating its recurring “even more difficult” with the resurrection of the Unbuilt Greatest Hits, to SANAA, refusing to give in to the curved stamp included in the proposals which were mostly dominated by orthogonality…

Let’s Talk About Mannerism

Circle of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (attributed to Benvenuto Cellini), “Allegorical portrait of visual arts (possible portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti)” (ca. 1590). Source: Sotheby’s New York

At the end of the 16th century a way of understanding the arts was born that aimed to go deeper than the classical study inherent to the Renaissance. This new form found that search for perfection through knowledge and learning from the past to be insufficient. The new trend was not going to bet on the exclusive recovery and reinterpretation of art history, but rather on the idea of creating “Mannerist” art, and the technical and formal reproduction of the works and elements typical of the great masters. A procedure, however, that did not incur mere plagiarism, rather through adaptation it rendered a particular tribute to those references that, in some way, made us remember the celebrated sentencing of Eugenio D’Ors1.

There was nothing wrong with this procedure that was insulted during many years. Copying is not only a necessary mechanism to be able to learn, but it is also a legitimate way to guarantee that any type of task is carried out correctly; among these tasks there is, of course, architecture. Some of the great architects, such as Moneo, have characterized themselves specifically for this: for being grand mannerists in their way of understanding a project and what it was after, with more or less precision, in function of the adequate form. All without refusing to impregnate imitations of the past with their own personal contributions making them unique and different, as any proper mannerist would do.

Doing things in mannerist style holds a clear risk: the byproduct of the fine line that separates the tribute from the referenced plagiarism, and that separates both aspects from the more harmful relative, parody. Not intelligent and ironic parody that is born from the profound knowledge and purification of that which one appropriates, such as the torn appearance of Il Girasole of Moretti incorporated by Venturi in his mother’s house, but rather the part of an emulation2  whose purpose is its own recognition of that what it is.

This crime, which goes further than the mere question of “style” that permits recognizing from afar somebody such as Meier or Gehry, does not occur in architecture. Campo Baeza in a recent book tribute to Sáenz de Oíza3 talks about his colleague’s victory in a contest with a project that was done so much in the “Campo Baeza style” that the jury was surprised when they found out it was actually his. These confusions become constantly more likely to occur in an over-informed world where everything can be reproduced.

Unfortunately, the value of the reclaimed “original” seems to guide itself more and more by the “more is more and less is a bore” statement from Iris Apfel as opposed to the Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more.” This is not for the perfection or qualification of a tradition, be it your own of from somewhere else, yet rather for making it identifiable and offering more than what it is, even if it is erroneous.  What is most relevant doesn’t have to offer specific architectural solutions, rather it should recognize the original response in regards to the copy, even if it is through making an evident and excessive auto reference4. In this way we go from being mannered by ourselves to being contemporary mannerists.


Text translated by Kaitlyn P. Delaney

Notas de página
1

“There is only true originality when it is within a tradition. Everything that isn’t tradition is plagiarism.” (1911).

2

Emular, según la RAE, es “imitar las acciones de otro procurando igualarlas e incluso excederlas”. Emulate. According to the RAE (Real Academy Spanish Language), is “imitate the action of another searching to equate or even exceed them.”

3

Campo Baeza, Alberto. Siempre Oiza. En Fernández, Aurora (2018). Oíza. 100 años. Ediciones Asimétricas, Madrid. Pages. 58-61

4

Baste as an example of the multiplication of the Vertical Forest of Stefano Boeri, or Bjarke Ingels systematically recurring to the “brick pavement.” But also to OMA alternating its recurring “even more difficult” with the resurrection of the Unbuilt Greatest Hits, to SANAA, refusing to give in to the curved stamp included in the proposals which were mostly dominated by orthogonality…

Autor:
(Gijón, 1981) Arquitecto (2005), máster en restauración arquitectónica y doctor en urbanística y ordenación del territorio por la Universidad de Valladolid. Compagina la práctica profesional vinculada a la planificación urbanística con la docencia en el área de proyectos arquitectónicos. Sus intereses giran en torno a la representación e interpretación cultural del territorio, los medios de comunicación y la disolución de los límites disciplinares.

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