John O'Flynn - Artist

John O'Flynn - Artist

Public Art

For a long time it has struck me that in the Louvre courtyard one can guage the distance between our own time and the preceeding age - the contrast between  the Glass Pyramid (I.M.Pei. c1990) and  the surrounding Baroque facades is so great. Despite its technical modernity, perhaps the archetypal form of the Glass Pyramid lends it an appropriateness – like that other ancient archetypal form, the Obelisk, which was also incorporated into classical European architecture. 
The Louvre Pyramid is but the tip of a vast underground project with many practical design issues to be solved. So too is Dublin’s “Spire” (Ian Ritchie, c2000) the imaginative response to design constraints. However, the Spire’s form is not archetypal, a pure “needle” does not have any historic/cultural precedance or resonance. The “Spire” seems to me to be quintessentially of our time: it doesn’t celebrate anything except its own technical achievement - in erecting something so thin and so high – there is no symbolism, no cultural resonance, no significant expression  beyond the technical achievement. 
London’s Cenotaph (Lutyens, c1918) does seem to evoke a deep response in its simplicity and without great sculptural or decorative fanfare, perhaps harking back to one of man’s earliest attempts at commemoration, the standing stone – so again, archetypal. But there are just enough understated hints directing the viewer towards its purpose.   


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