It is difficult to find a more “modern” poet, since indeed in some ways it was himself who defined modernity.
Let us recall. He said that art has two halves: the modern one, that depicts the ephemeral, the transient, and the eternal one, that depicts immutability.
He was the poet who understood the ephemerality of clouds, those very clouds various architects today employ, as metaphors, not just in their drawn work, but also in their built one, from Wolf Prix to Massimiliano Fuksas to that very early work by Studio Asymptote, Steel Cloud.
Why this interest in the clouds, now…?
And what did Baudelaire say about the clouds…?
He only loved the clouds, if we consider his beautiful short poem in prose, L’Etranger (The Stanger).
It is our pleasure to reproduce here this very telling short poem.
Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love best? Your father, your mother, your sister, or your brother?
"I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother."
Your friends, then?
"You use a word that until now has had no meaning for me."
"I am ignorant of the latitude in which it is situated."
"Her I would love willingly, goddess and immortal."
"I hate it as you hate your God."
What, then, extraordinary stranger, do you love?
"I love the clouds the clouds that pass yonder the marvelous clouds."
In what way is this poem “telling…?!”
It says everything about the human condition in general, about the existential situation of the artist / the poet, and also, in a way, about modernity. It speaks, eloquently, about alienation and estrangement.
Everything is fleeing, although, of course, the flowing and the fleeing were known by Heraclitus as well.
But the modern condition, the speed, the changeability of our “environment,” from which so very often we are divorced, since the word “stranger” (etranger), amplifies, somehow, this feeling that nothing is stable (any longer), that there is no permanence, that only the clouds, indeed, could rescue us from the unavoidable angst.
Baudelaire knew quite well this anguish… and he expressed it beautifully, in his poems.
On August 31st, this year, there will be 150 years since his death. It will be the last day of our one month presence in Vienna, where we will have a one month long ICARCH Architecture Festival. We want to dedicate this last day to Baudelaire, to this most “modern” poet.
Please be kind and send us your proposals for A HOUSE FOR CHARLES BAUDELAIRE by July 27th. Please use only the format A0 (as many sheets as you want) and please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will print them and we will include them in the exhibition in Vienna. Please register by July 15th, in order to receive a registration number with which anonymously to identify your work. There will be a registration fee of 40 euro for architects and 20 euro for students. You can work both individually, or in a team. The registration fee will remain the same. If you have any question, please contact us.
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