On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Aldo Rossi’s museum in Maastricht, the Bonnefantenmuseum produced an exhibition on the fascinating Opera Grafica of this versatile architect and artist. Along with the exhibition, titled “La finestra del poeta” after a favourite subject of Rossi’s, Silvana Editoriale has published the book Aldo Rossi: Opera Grafica, a work conducted in close cooperation with the museum and the Fondazione Aldo Rossi in Milan, and ARCHIZOOM is publishing a map and an application on the Città analoga.
“Aldo Rossi: La Finistra del Poeta”
February 29 – March 23, 2016
EPFL – ENAC School
SG 1211 (SG Building)
The importance of Aldo Rossi (1932-1997) for the development of architectural culture can hardly be underestimated. Through his unique and complex network of theoretical works, buildings and projects, designs, teaching and exhibiting activities, and a vast production of drawings and prints, he was one of the most influential actors in the reorientation of architecture in the previous century. His production of prints cannot easily be compared to that of any other artist or architect, since it does not establish a ‘private niche’. On the contrary, his prints show an unconventional reaction to impulses from within (personal reflection) and from without (relationships with friends and commissioners).
The relatively small group of prints displayed at Opera Grafica has scarcely ever – undeservedly – been studied. But when considered within the broader perspective of the ‘rediscovery’ of architectural prints of the 1970s, Rossi’s printmaking has had a determining role in this particular development. His prints, which are closely related to his drawings, display a fascinating relationship between unique and reproduction works, relating conceptually to Rossi’s influential idea of architecture as modus operandi – where the process is at least as important as the product.
Between 1973 (the year in which he curated the international Architectural Section of the XV’s Triennial of Milan) until his death, Rossi enriched his oeuvre with over 100 prints. Though interested in the mysteries and possibilities of various graphic techniques, Rossi was not a trained printmaker. His prints often show a disconcerting variety of styles and techniques: some are experiments with printmaking; others are technically conventional or signed photomechanical reproductions.
THE BONNEFANTENMUSEUM EXHIBITION OF ALDO ROSSI’S PRINTS
In 2011, the Bonnefantenmuseum acquired a collection of 100 Aldo Rossi prints, which covers 98% of his late-life production. Twenty years after the opening of the museum’s main building designed by Rossi, an exceptional book on Rossi’s prints as an illustration of his ‘work in process’ is published.
THE “OPERA GRAFICA” TRIAD: RESEARCH–BOOK–EXHIBITION
The research project of the Bonnefantenmuseum in cooperation with the Fondazione Aldo Rossi in Milan has four key objectives:
a) the establishment of a ‘definitive’ list of works contained in the Opera Grafica, requiring a comprehensive analysis of all Rossi collections;
b) a detailed study of the historical context and the roots of Rossi’s printmaking, particularly the input of his colleagues, printmakers, galleries and commissioners;
c) detailed research on the iconographical and referential content of the prints and their relationship with his drawings;
d) a detailed study of the technical and curatorial aspects the prints, in cooperation with the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome, the Archivio del Moderno in Mendrisio and the Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.
Published in English and Italian by Silvana Editoriale, the book contains a series of essays on the roots of Rossi’s oeuvre (1973-97) and the ‘re-invention’ of the architectural print in the 1970s, as well as a comprehensive, annotated catalogue of the prints and plates seen in the context of Rossi’s visual sphere (256 pages, essays by Germano Celant, Kurt Forster, Ton Quik and Sandra Suatoni, a biography by Chiara Spangaro, and the Catalogue of the Opera Grafica by Ingrid Kentgens, Beatrice Lampariello, scientific collaborator at EPFL, Quik and Spangaro; retail price € 40).
Through the Italian architect Aldo Rossi’s work, one enters into a world where architectural ingenuity intertwines with artistic and philosophical concepts. Without this unconventional oeuvre, architectural prints would probably have remained a peripheral phenomenon. The exhibition explores architectural thinking and introduces the visitors to critical ways of looking at Rossi’s prints. The content includes his collection of prints and a selection of plates magnified by drawings, photographs and sketches that are significant for understanding Rossi’s flow of creativity.
Additionally, to gauge and explore Rossi’s seminal work Città analoga, ARCHIZOOM relied on Dario Rodighiero, Ph.D. researcher at EPFL, to conceive a map and a museographic digital application based on augmented reality that decomposes Rossi’s original urban project by displaying the complex references belonging to the collage.
STRUCTURE OF THE EXHIBITION
By aiming towards underlining the creative and intellectual aspects of Rossi’s production, the prints are displayed within the frame of a thematic – chronological– narrative. Where appropriate, the prints are shown alongside related sketches, sources, plates and further elaborations. By doing so, the exhibition provides visitors with background references on Rossi’s working process as well as an introduction to his ‘analogical’ thinking.
The exhibition is composed around seven clusters:
1. Introduction: the artist and his collaborators, chronology of the productions and the main printers/editors, plus a dozen of early paintings and drawings.
2. Technical considerations: prints in the making. Being himself more of a draughtsman than a graphic artist, Rossi moved back and forth throughout his career from traditional etching to lithography and complex mixed media, crossing the borders between unique and reproduction works.
3. Early prints (1973-1975): a rather coherent group of black and white etchings mingling analytical studies with his long time ‘objects of my affection’.
4. Rossi’s large collages from the 1980s (Untitled, Fragments, Teatro del Mondo) juxtaposed to his famous didactical ‘Plandruck’ Città analoga.
5. Referential works where Rossi inserts his own works into a network of analogical references. Samples include: The Lighthouse, Natura morta, Progretto px una scuderia or Il pesce d’oro.
6. The great variety of print production from the 1990’s. Samples include: Museum Verlust der Mitte, Monumento Zaandam and Geometrie Romane.
7. Postscriptum, showing works that deal with the vicissitude of the life of the architect and of architecture itself. Samples include: Dieses ist lange her and Verlust der Mitte.
After passing through ARCHIZOOM (29.02 – 23.03.2016), the exhibition will be travelling to Bergamo, at the GAMeC (April-July 2016).