Architecture occupies a peculiar place in the life of democratic societies. Most buildings get built because some private concern, an individual or a corporate entity, commissions it. Because procuring land and constructing buildings is expensive, the private concerns that do so typically enjoy the benefits of wealth, which include social and political influence in excess of the democratic credo of one man, one vote. Yet architecture, or most of it anyway, is a public good: what any one person or institution builds, others must live with, and often for a very long time.
Writing about his obsession with art books in a wonderful little volume published this year—Phantoms on the Bookshelves—Jacques Bonnet says that “Images send you on to other images, artists to other artists, periods come one after another or echo each other, all with their cargo of art works.” And so it is when I think back on remarkable art experienced in the year just past.