Curated by Alberto Ferlenga and Marco Biraghi
TRIENNALE DI MILANO, Nov 28 2015 – Mar 6 2016
The exhibition aims to begin telling the story of Italian architecture of the late twentieth century as a whole, a story whose temporal proximity, along with other factors, had prevented a more broad and general discourse until now.
The main body of the exhibition, which develops along the large curve on the ground floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte, consists of approximately 120 works, including models, original drawings and albums that illustrate the design aspects in detail. From Ludovico Quaroni, Ignazio Gardella and Aldo Rossi to Renzo Piano (to name only a few), works by the biggest names in the history of Italian architecture since the postwar period to the year 2000. Alongside the former are projects and works of those less celebrated yet equally important, like Guglielmo Mozzoni, Paolo Soleri and Arturo Mezzedimi.
In addition to highlighting a linguistic variety that has almost unmatched in other countries, the exhibition discusses the deep ties that Italian architecture has had with territorial issues and aspects and other disciplines, bearing, testimony to a rich, complex and unique story that in some periods strongly influenced the architectural culture of other parts of the world.
Introduced by a video installation graphically elaborated by Giuseppe Ragazzini, which stages major events in Italy during the period in question, the exhibition opens with the sculpture by Pietro Consagra, The Horizontal City.
The first section is divided into rooms dedicated to specific themes. The layout of each of these rooms was given to different curators to manage: the evolution of the work site to Carmen Andriani, design to Silvana Annicchiarico, archives to Chiara Baglione, architecture schools to Fernanda De Maio, cultural institutions to Paola Nicolin and the publishing industry to Raffaella Poletti. Each room conveys the subject matter in various forms, putting it in close connection with the Italian situation.
From here the actual exhibition starts, introduced by a gallery devoted to drawings in which some of the most representative graphic and pictorial works of the time are located, such as the “analogous cities” of Aldo Rossi and Arduino Cantafora.
While drawings serve as an autonomous expression that accompanies the entire exhibition, the central part features a kind of urban landscape consisting of models of buildings and neighborhoods, reflecting – among other things – yet another special feature of the Italian architectural scene post World War II: the development of the great art of modeling, which had excellent artists like Giovanni Sacchi. The backdrop for the models are reliefs of the largest Italian cities, designed in a period when special attention was paid to the cities’ morphological characteristics. In this section, selected projects are illustrated with the help of albums that the public is able to browse. Another important relationship developed by Italian architecture is that with landscape photography. As such, one section of the exhibition is devoted to the images of some of the best Italian photographers (from Gabriele Basilico to Luigi Ghirri), whose work – especially between the 60s and 90s – has often crossed and influenced that of architects.
The exit from the central part of the exhibition is through a room dedicated to a method of representation – aside from the perception of places and the definition of the project – that is more private: that of sketchbooks and travel notebooks, an essential compendium of the work of many Italian architects.
At its conclusion, the exhibition refers to the transformation of the physical body of Italy at present. This is done through the presentation of results, as reprocessed by Gianni Canova and the IULM in the form of a video wall, of the call Italy in a Frame, which focuses on the current status of the Italian landscape. This installation is accompanied by a selection of videos titled Future Signals, collected by Avanzi, which illustrate how projectual occasions are gradually changing in contemporary Italy, as well as ask how new fields of application and training needs for future architects are emerging.
An image of the famous Cretto by Gibellina di Alberto Burri is seen at the exhibition’s exit, to symbolically render the idea of the contradictions that marked Italian architecture in the late twentieth century.