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Folio: A new muse

Kali, mother of creation and destruction, on the cover of the AR’s 120th anniversary edition

Dissatisfied with the muse of architecture portrayed on the cover of the first issue of The Architectural Review – a Pre-Raphaelite mother-of-all-arts clutching a tiny Arts and Crafts castle in her hands – we desired a new muse for the future of the AR. Our first cover was, after all, a retake of the Classical muse, typically painted slaving over drawings and clutching a tiny Parthenon.

For this 120th issue, we sought fresh inspiration and pay tribute to the goddess Kali, with all her complexity: mother of creation and destruction, warrior, protector and liberator of souls, with the permanence to outlast the universe. The darkness of Mother Kali is the darkness from which everything was born, a mother not of the arts, but of nature – appropriate because architecture is part of nature as it springs from the human instinct to build, just as a bird constructs its nest and a spider its web.

As slayer of the human ego, which must be destroyed to attain moksha, we have placed a garland of starchitects around Kali’s neck to free the profession of its earthly vanity and focus instead on its social responsibility beyond a single lifetime. In Kali’s hands we have placed not one style of architecture, but an arsenal of antecedents, each representing the power of our architectural precedents. Illustrated by the Mexican creative studio Skinpop, this powerful interpretation is a provocation to the profession to come.

Get the AR 120 issue now and celebrate our 120th birthday with us.