This paper examines how the representation of architectural space was radically repositioned in a number of creative art practices of the 1920s. The creative strategies of flattening, cutting, framing and transparency implicate architecture, not only eroding the spatial certainties of figure and ground but the techniques of architectural representation that were used to describe them. These practices were intrinsically related to the "transgressive" avant-gardes of Dada and Surrealism and exist as part of a broader project to dismantle the boundaries between artistic mediums and, in the process, undermine the subjective nature of architectural experience. Through these projects, and the contemporaneous interest in ethnography, space was freed from its passive, contextual relationship to art and reconceptualized as an "artefact": a fixed, flattened object that could be positioned in time and verified through aesthetic experience. This paper focusses on the works of three artists: Francis Picabia, Alberto Giacometti and Max Ernst. It demonstrates the way in which each artist undertook works that specifically and deliberately questioned the nature of architectural space and its relationship to the art object. These radical approaches blurred the well-established architectural categories of context and object, figure and ground, and were instrumental in avant-garde strategies of making architecture from the 1970s to the present.
South African Journal of Art History Vol. 24, Issue 1, p. 67-74