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Gio Ponti


Biography

Ever since the start of his career, the work of Giovanni (Gio) Ponti (1891-1979) was profoundly innovative, going beyond the return to neoclassicism characteristic of early twentieth century architecture. Ponti made the architect a promoter of culture and an interpreter of the new “bourgeois taste”.
Ponti founded and edited the historic architecture magazines Domus (1928-40 and 1948-1979) and Stile (1941-1947); he sat on the executive committee of the Triennale di Milano and the Biennale di Monza; he taught for many years (1936-1961) at Politecnico di Milano, where he himself had graduated in 1921.
Not a member of any modernist ideological movement, with nothing to do with movements and fashions, Ponti saw architecture as the place where multiple aspects of the creative act come together and “style” as a recurrent, recognisable element present in the community in a given society at a given time.
He himself did not start out constructing buildings, but creating furniture and objects, and particularly decorating; he was a great success at the International Exposition of the Decorative Arts in Paris (1925).
Years later, his work with Richard-Ginori (where he was artistic director between 1923 and 1930) is a milestone in the stylistic evolution of the art of ceramics, as is clear in the exhibits of the Museo della Manifattura di Doccia in Sesto Fiorentino.
Ponti approached architecture gradually, focusing in particular on issues pertaining to “the home”.
He sought a meeting-point between expressiveness and uniformity, creating his many “domuses” on Via Letizia and “typical homes” in Via De Togni and Via del Caravaggio in Milan in the Thirties.
Ponti’s extraordinary creativity is also apparent in his important public works projects, such as the Mathematics Institute at Rome University Campus (1935); the EIAR building, now RAI, in Milan (1939); the interiors of the Italian Cultural Institute in the Furstenberg Building in Vienna (1936); and the Liviano, home to the Faculty of Arts of Padua University (1938).
His first Montecatini Building (1936) is a splendid example of rational architecture applied to industry which also reveals his innate talent for design, while the lightweight, simple Pirelli Tower (1956-1961) has come to symbolise the city of Milan and the modernity of the unique years of the economic boom in Italy.
His work with volumes, façades and decorations also produced important examples of religious architecture such as Carmelo Monastery in Sanremo, San Carlo Chapel in Milan and Taranto Cathedral.
 
SELECTED PROJECT
 
- Denver Art Museum, Denver (USA), 1971
- Gran Madre di Dio Co-Cathedral, Taranto (Italy), 1970
- Ministries Building, Islamabad (Pakistan), 1964
- Pirelli Tower, Milan (Italy), 1961
- Carmelo Monastery, Sanremo (Italy), 1958
- Italian Cultural Institute - Fondazione Lerici, Stockholm (Sweden), 1959
- Villa Planchart, Caracas (Venezuela), 1956
- Superlight Chair - Cassina, 1957
- Second Montecatini Building, Milan (Italy), 1951
- San Luca Evangelista Church, Milan (Italy), 1960
- Christofle Cutlery and Silverware, Paris (France), 1955
- Harar Dessié District, Milan (Italy), 1950
- Villa Donegani, Bordighera (Italy), 1940
- The Liviano - Faculty of Arts Building, Padua (Italy), 1938
- EIAR (RAI) Building, Milan (Italy), 1939
- Mathematics Institute – University Campus, Rome (Italy), 1935
- Littoria Tower in Sempione Park, Milan (Italy), 1933
- Typical homes in Via De Togni, Milan (Italy), 1931
- Home in Via Domenichino, Milan (Italy), 1928
- Monument to the Fallen in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, Milan (Italy), 1927
- Ceramics and porcelains - Richard-Ginori, 1923

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