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A sculptural object exhibited at the Royal Academy originally conceived through an article written for the RIBA Journal, "In Praise of the Greengrocers Shop" – an homage to the ordinary architecture of the familiar high street shopfront.

 

"The typical greengrocer’s is a shop descended from a market stall with an element of street theatre thrown in.  Reconstructed daily from upturned, stackable crates, it is decorated with abundant amounts of fruit and veg that spill out on to the street, giving mountainous form to the exterior. Bunches of bananas, grapes and pineapples become living versions of petrified Corinthian capitals."

 

A simple cartoonish line drawing was transformed into a three-dimensional artwork for the RA exhibition. Composed atop a readymade faux Grecian fluted column, a pile of colourful plastic fruit and vegetables was carefully constructed to resemble the acanthus leaves and scrolls typical of a classical Corinthian column.  The composition was then finally painted white to represent the petrification process.

 

One of the most powerful 'origin myths' of modernism revolved around the absence of colour in architecture.  In his seminal Vers une architecture, Le Corbusier illustrated the Parthenon in Athens through a series of black and white photographs that proviledged its sculptural and formal qualities over its decorative or narrative ones.

 

It had been long known, however, that Ancient Greek architecture was originally highly colourful.  The representation of the Parthenon in this way was therefore, a deliberate choice, one that allowed Le Corbusier to use the building to further his idea of architecture as 'the masterly, correct and magnificent display of masses brought together in light'.

 

In response to this whitewashing of architectural history, one particular photograph here records The Greengrocers' Order at a critical point in its creation just before painting, a deliberate intention to both reveal and celebrate its original highly coloured state.

 

 

[From Origins: A Project by Ordinary Architecture]

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The Greengrocers' Order

Royal Academy of Arts

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