Ornament and Crime: Pinsent Masons, London
“As Artist in Residence at Pinsent Masons, I have been thinking about criminality in the art world – Artists stealing ideas, copying images. My research brought me to Adolf Loos - a key figure in modern architecture – who in 1908 famously wrote an essay criticising decoration. It was titled “Ornament and Crime.”
On the cover of my copy of the publication that contains Loos's essay, there is a portrait, in profile form, of Loos himself. Looking at his profile – I noticed some similarity between the curves of his nose, the acute shape of his lips and dome of his forehead, and the shapes of Victorian ornamentation. Throughout Architectural history, theorists have argued in favour and against whether good design is linked to the proportions of the human figure. A famous example is The Vitrubian Man. Its likely you’ve seen the iconic image Leonardo da Vinci made of a man with his arms and legs spread out contained within a circle and a square.
Returning to Adolf Loos - I decided to steal his profile and used it to fashion a router bit. A router is the tool - a spinning shaped blade that is used to carve decorative features of Victorian furniture. There are many standard types which have evolved. This router bit is a tool and a sculpture.
Over the next few weeks – as I continue this enquiry – I plan to update the display.”
– Nick Hornby