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Architect sees his paintings in multiple dimensions
0514Architecture-White Composition II 1996
"White Composition II," 1996 by Anthony Ames. Bas-relief. Acrylic on wood and plywood.

ATLANTA - With its white exterior and modern lines, the High Museum of Art stands out in the Atlanta cityscape, much like the work of Atlanta architect Anthony Ames.

Similar to the museum's original architect, Richard Meier, Ames has a modern sensibility and an affinity for clean lines and lots of natural light. So it's fitting that his recent exhibit, "Anthony Ames, Architect: Residential Landscapes," is on view at the High through Aug. 23.

Ames said he often chooses white for his designs because he wants them to stand out in their landscapes, contrary to Frank Lloyd Wright's notion that buildings should blend in with the nature around them.

"There's the other idea that, you know, the building isn't natural. It isn't nature, and you should make a distinction between the building and the landscape," Ames said.

Small incarnations of the buildings are on view at the museum - tiny models of homes found across the United States.

One model illustrates his first design, the Hulse House, a home in the Ansley Park neighborhood of Atlanta built in 1984.

The exhibit also includes paintings and bas-relief works by Ames, which relate directly to his architectural works, some based on photographs made inside the houses.

"All the paintings or most of the paintings have some reference to the models," he said.

Ames said he divided most of his paintings into two planes, with a flat perspective on one side, where the patterns seem to be only on the surface of the painting, and a "perspectival" space on the other, which draws the viewer into the painting.

"The theme in a lot of these paintings is this notion of perspectival space versus flat space, the idea that a lot of the paintings are divided in half," Ames said.

"One half of the painting through ‘diminution,' through vanishing lines. There's a perspectival space that's created, and the other half of the painting there's more of a flat situation where it's more layered," he said. "Rather than inviting you into the painting, it sort of denies that notion."

Ames' paintings also feature what he calls "purist objects," inspired by artists Le Corbusier and Amedee Ozenfant, who featured everyday objects in their paintings.

Ames said the artists used "wine bottles, plates, guitars. Very generic objects that have been used over the years and actually, people felt comfortable with - comfortable holding, comfortable relating to."

"And they saw these as pure objects," he said.

Also included in the exhibit are a white china set and a rug designed by Ames, both of which mirror elements of his other works.

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