Compare And Contrast The Architecture Of Thomas Cole And Louis Sullivan

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Early Modernist American architect Louis Sullivan and Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, despite a shared affinity for nature, differed in their hopes of how nature and society (or civilization) would interact in the future of America in the 19th Century. While Louis Sullivan sought a new reconciliation of nature and society, Thomas Cole, saddened by the increasing replacement of natural landscape with Man’s built environment, called for Man to develop a greater appreciation for the untouched natural world he found so compelling.
Louis Sullivan felt that the collision of nature and Man brought a new opportunity to create a form of architecture greater than the sum of these two parts. He writes of this new architecture being “the completeness
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Cole felt that Man had an almost “religious” rapport with nature, but that the modern “meagre utilitarianism seems ready to absorb every feeling and sentiment.” Cole believed that as the built environment grew in virtue of the Utilitarian, Man lost the deep sentiment he held for the natural landscape. Unlike Sullivan, Cole did not see the communion of Nature and Man, but felt as though Man’s building of the environment necessarily erased the picturesque, loving qualities existent in the kinds of landscapes he painted. Not only did Cole believe Man was erasing the beauty of nature, he felt that what Man put in its place was not nearly as compelling as the untouched landscape. He writes, “those scenes of solitude from which the hand of nature has never been lifted, affect the mind with a more deep toned emotion than aught which the hand of man has touched,” in a plea that Man might stop building and find the incredible beauty of the non-built that is much more essential to the human experience. Unlike Sullivan, Cole believed that the natural and untouched was always more compelling than the man-made, augmented landscape—there existed no poetic “intercourse” between the two for

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