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Architecture as Virtù: Adrian Stokes, Ezra Pound and the ethics of 'Patterned Energy'

Kite, Stephen 2001. Architecture as Virtù: Adrian Stokes, Ezra Pound and the ethics of 'Patterned Energy'. The Journal of Architecture 6 (1) , pp. 81-96. 10.1080/13602360010029359

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Abstract

If we characterise ethics as 'properly directed energy' how are the multiple energies involved in a complex artefact such as a work of architecture - those of client, architect/artist, crafter and material - to achieve a synthesis of 'art' and 'life' that embodies an ethical environment and, in formal terms, navigates the snares of abstraction on the one hand and the literary/associative on the other? The paper begins with an outline of the discourses within modernism in the first half of this century which were concerned with these issues. It focuses on the dialogue between Adrian Stokes (1902-72) (bracketed by many commentators with Ruskin and Pater as among the most important English aesthetes) and the poet and critic Ezra Pound. Stokes's theory of art offers a profoundly corporeal interpretation of architecture and the urban environment that draws on the Renaissance concept of virtù , empathy theory, and psycho-analysis. With Pound he sought a solution to the contemporary equation of 'art' and 'life' by re-appraising the Renaissance notion of virtù , especially as evidenced in the work, and documented in the writings, of Alberti. The paper examines these ideas and their implications for cities and buildings that might embody an ethic.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1360-2365
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:49
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/12388

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