Whereas most buildings are situated in rural, suburban, or urban environments, the works in Building Blocks are meant to be experienced in relation to the interior space of the museum gallery or a domestic setting. Illuminating the relationships between art and architecture, many of the objects here depend on walls, corners, or ceiling rafters for context and completion. They also encourage interaction among viewers—whether generated by a house that is large enough to enter or by small-scale sculptures that invite observation from a bird’s eye perspective. Several works refer directly to architectural forebears—from a 15th-century Venetian palazzo to a 1960s modernist German garage—or are based on the modular progressions of Minimalist cubes and planes. Some pieces depict, or are, actual buildings, while others utilize basic geometric elements to investigate the structural possibilities of space, volume, and form. Moreover, several artists use tools or materials associated with building construction as their medium or subject matter.
A number of the works in this gallery are new to the collection and are on view at the Museum for the first time. Representing a range of styles, techniques, and scales, all of the objects abandon the functional requirement of shelter and open the subject of architecture to our imagination and to our engagement with the space around us.