City and Architecture

Views of cities and buildings are among the most important pictorial painting themes in recent centuries. With this subject, artists show their very individual perspectives on metropolises, villages, and buildings such as houses, bridges, and churches.

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City and Architecture

Metropolises, Villages and Buildings: Cities and Architecture in Painting

City views and architectural painting have been popular among artists and the public alike for many centuries. August Macke, Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee, Auguste Renoir, Lyonel Feininger, or Claude Monet – all of them and many others created city paintings or architectural pictures during their careers. Historically, the depiction of cities and architecture is considered landscape painting. The first depictions of buildings have already been documented in ancient art. However, it was not until the 17th century that landscape painting began to establish itself as a genre of its own. Towns, villages, and buildings became increasingly frequent motifs. From then on, buildings no longer served merely as a backdrop but developed into an independent and central pictorial theme. The focus of town painting shifted to views of smaller and larger towns and individual buildings such as churches and bridges or even individual streets. Whether realistic or expressive architectural pictures – the artists created far more than just views of buildings with their city paintings but rather always worked out the character of the buildings.

The Metropolises of the World – Popular Motifs in City Painting

Many of the world's great metropolises are not only popular travel destinations but serve as inspiration for artists' architectural pictures. The major cities of the world, such as Rome, Paris, Berlin, New York, Cologne, and Hamburg, offer a multitude of motifs. One city that has obviously fascinated numerous generations of artists over the centuries until today is Venice. The Italian city has been captured in pictures countless times, including by William Turner ("The View of Venice from the Canale della Giudecca", 1840), Edouard Manet ("Grand Canal in Venice", 1874), Paul Signac ("Venice, the Pink Cloud", 1909), Armin Mueller-Stahl ("Venice", 2008), Ulla Kutter ("Venice", 2014), Kirsten Serowski ("Complementary", 2019) or Wolf Bertram Becker ("Venice I", 2020). Even though the artists all found their motifs in the same city, the paintings all offer very individual impressions and unique insights. Even smaller, less well-known places are charming as motifs for city paintings, for example, Kochel am See, the French town of Arles, Murnau or the island of Fehmarn. However, real places do not always have to serve as models for city paintings. Many artists also painted city paintings with the architecture and buildings of fictitious places.