Architecture Art Books

Book Review: Études – The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments

Book review Etudes

A book By John Marx, Published by Oro Editions, Hardback, Publication Date: 2020

Études – The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments features 84 watercolours by John Marx juxtaposed with 40 short poems by the architect, complementing the observational and even existential qualities of his art.  The design of the book, a deep collaboration with graphic artist Jeremy Mende, has been carefully laid out to explore the relationship between words and watercolours as an art form.  Mende describes the layout for the poems in this book as “a kind of musical score for reading”.

Études - The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments
Études - The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments

A key essay in the book, “Drawing Critically”, is written by Owen Hopkins, Senior Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and an expert on the subject of architectural drawing. He writes, 

“Today, Marx sees architecture as having lost the joy of simple poetry, the quirky, subjective arbitrariness that gives life its meaning. And it is no surprise that it is these qualities that are present in abundance in his watercolours and the focus of continual exploration. Looking across this body of work, there’s a remarkable consistency of vision, of colour, of formal language, and of subject. One is reminded of the surrealist landscapes — or rather mindscapes — of Giorgio de Chirico, the eeriness of Edward Hopper’s scenes of city life, and even the quietly haunting quality of the populated landscapes of nineteenth-century French painter, Puvis de Chavannes. From an architectural perspective there is also clearly something of the tone (if not the style) of Aldo Rossi’s depictions of his archetypal architecture, and also of the fantasy worlds of Rossi’s fellow Italian, Massimo Scolari.”

The watercolours and poems are divided into eight distinct sections according to type: moments in time; apertures; absent nature; objects in nature; without intention; approaching abstraction; deconstructing perception; improvisations. 

Études - The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments
Études - The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments

John Marx, painter, poet, architect 

John Marx, AIA, is a co-founding principal and chief artistic officer of Form4 Architecture in San Francisco, CA. John exhibited his work in Italy during the 2016 and 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale at GAFF. His watercolours were included in group exhibitions in 2018 at the Wessling Gallery in San Francisco and the Contemporary Space in Athens, Greece. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *