Gio Ponti Loving architecture exhibition at MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome

Ettore Ferrari,



The major retrospective that MAXXI, National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, dedicates to Italian architect Gio Ponti forty years after his death is a story in which his architecture is the starting point for introducing visitors to Ponti’s multi-faceted career as art director, writer, poet and critic. The exhibition title recalls the famous Italian architect’s best-known book: "Amate l'architettura", published in English in 1960 under the title “In Praise of Architecture”.

Gio Ponti Loving architecture exhibition at MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome

“ Love architecture, old and new. Love architecture for the fantastic, the adventurous and the solemn that it has created – has invented – with its abstract, allusive and figurative forms that enchant our spirit and capture our thoughts, the scenario and aid of our lives.”
The exhibition recently opened at MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome in partnership with CSAC, the communication study centre and archives of Parma University, where Gio Ponti’s professional archives are kept, and Gio Ponti Archives, opens with a quote from Gio Ponti’s best-known book, “In Praise of Architecture”, originally published in Italian in 1957 as “Amate l’architettura” by Genoese publisher Vitali e Ghianda. The exhibition halls designed by architect Zaha Hadid pay homage to Gio Ponti’s multi-faceted creative career forty years after his death. Architect, designer, art director, writer, poet, critic, and communicator, Gio Ponti cannot be defined by one of these labels alone; as the exhibition curators note, “he was an all-round artist whose life spanned practically all of the twentieth century, profoundly influencing the tastes of the century, mirroring its most significant developments and anticipating many of the themes addressed by architecture today”.

Gio Ponti is truly a unique figure in the history of twentieth-century Italian architecture, for he designed items for everyday use, invented new spatial solutions for the modern home and created complex projects on an urban scale. The exhibition originated with intense research updating our knowledge of this Italian architect, focusing on the themes underlying his work, which in effect anticipated contemporary thought on architecture and urban planning. One example is his conception of a green city in which Nature plays a key role, with residential buildings featuring generous terraces and balconies for greenery, a prophetic vision foreshadowing the work of many of our most important contemporaries.
The exhibition includes material from the archives, original models, photographs, books, magazines, and classic items of design connected with Gio Ponti’s architectural projects. All this material is divided into eight sections representing eight key concepts which Ponti came up with, organised in a dramatic immersive installation suggesting the idea of a fluid, dynamic, colourful space like those the Italian architect designed. A photographic project created and curated by Paolo Rosselli along with six architecture photographers selected by him completes the exhibition and offers visitors a contemporary perspective on ten famous projects by Gio Ponti, showing these buildings as they are today: Taranto Cathedral (Delfino Sisto Legnani), Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento (Allegra Martin), Villa Planchart in Caracas (Giovanni Chiaramonte), the façade of the Bijenkorf department store in Eindhoven (Filippo Romano), Il Liviano and Palazzo del Bo housing the faculty of arts and chancellor’s office of Padua University (Giovanna Silva), the first and second Montecatini building in Milan (Michele Nastasi), the School of Mathematics in Rome (Stefano Graziani) and, finally, the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan (Paolo Rosselli).

(Agnese Bifulco)

Images courtesy of MAXXI, photo by:
Ettore Ferrari courtesy of ANSA (2,5,6,8,16)
courtesy of Gio Ponti Archives (1,3,4,7, 9 -15,17,18)

Title: GIO PONTI. Amare l'architettura / GIO PONTI. Loving architecture
Date: 27.11.2019 - 13.4.2020
curated by Maristella Casciato and Fulvio Irace with Margherita Guccione, Salvatore Licitra, Francesca Zanella
in collaboration with CSAC - Centro studi e archivio della comunicazione dell’Università di Parma, Gio Ponti Archives
Location: MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome
www.maxxi.art | www.csacparma.it | www.gioponti.org |


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