04 September 2019

Coming up in September
A round up of events, news, curiosities, objects, books and a brief run-down on all the latest for the month

Tony Cragg at Boboli: contemporary sculpture has always enjoyed special treatment in special places in Florence, especially at Piazzale Michelangelo (who could forget the 1972 Henry Moore exhibition?), and the Boboli Gardens where a selection of works by British-born artist Tony Cragg, now resident in Germany, is on exhibit until 27th October. Well known in Milan (he has had numerous one-man shows), there are plenty of people who have yet to discover him. The relationship struck up between the centuries’ old garden landscape and Cragg’s strange stalagmites and phytomorphic monsters is unpredictable – and extremely enjoyable. Capping it all is the extended dialogue between the artworks and the towers and cupolas on the far side of the Arno.

Lake Como Design Fair: marking its second edition, from 20th to 22nd September, this event is more of an exhibition than a fair. Split between two splendid locations, with design in the foyer of the Teatro Sociale and architecture at Palazzo del Broletto, the theme of this year’s Lake Como Design Fair is colour. Prototypes, models, drawings and one-off pieces selected by the two curators, gallerist Margherita Ratti and architect and writer Andrea Kofler, will reflect the latest trends, and they can be purchased there and then, to boot!

A homage to newborns: Alberto Garutti’s poetic work To Those Born Today is being replicated from 2nd July onwards in Rome’s amazing Piazza del Popolo. Until 1st December 2019, every time a child is born in the maternity wing of the Policlinico Gemelli, one of the lights in the square will flicker more brightly. The work is an ode to life and to equality, ever more vital these days. It would be great if, every time the luminous signal is perceived, it could be greeted by liberating applause.

On Flower Power. The Role of the Vase in Arts, Crafts and Design: Catalan designer Martí Guixé, with Inga Knölke, takes an unconventional look at the empathetic power of the flower vase through the ages at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome until 3rd November. An often-undervalued object in the sweeping narrations (let us not forget the wonderful Di Vaso in Fiore exhibition curated by Beppe Finessi at Milan’s Poldi Pezzoli Museum in 2011, however), the vase is actually a perfect medium through which to take a crosscutting look at the behavioural styles of an entire era. Yet another happy intrusion of “low” subjects into a place deputed for “high” art, as we have come to expect from Cristiana Collu, Director of the GAM since 2015.

A motorway in the Turbine Hall: even the most savvy visitor, even one who has already seen Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider in 2000 or Anish Kapoor’s monumental horn (2003), or seen Olafur Eliasson’s sun rise and fall in 2004, or Carsten Höller’s hyperbolic slide or Doris Salcedo’s terrifying crevice (2008), or even one who has trampled across Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds, cannot but be perplexed at the sight of a real motorway bridge installed inside Tate Modern. A symbol of outskirts everywhere, and therefore of all the marginalisations in the world, as well as a nostalgic childhood reference for the artist Mark Leckey, born in a Liverpool suburb. The abutment of the bridge is to be built on a scale of 1:1. From 24th September to January 2020.

The sculptor beloved of architects: A retrospective dedicated to Pietro Consagra (1920-2005) is being held at the ancient Convento del Carmine in Marsala. Consagra Architettura actually marks a sort of home-coming for the great sculptor, who was born at Mazzara del Vallo, also into the Province of Trapani. Along with Accardi, Turcato, Dorazio, Perilli and Attardi, Consagra was a leading light in the Roman abstract movement, which ran counter first to Picasso and then to Pop, and had invented a type of “frontal sculpture”, composed of built-up layers, greatly loved by architects of his generation (he was best known in Milan for the two major works that stand between Via Broletto and Piazza Duomo) and deserves to be brought back into the spotlight.

On mirrors: Spiegel. Der Mensch im Widerschein (Mirrors. The Reflected Self. Dedicated especially to narcissists, or all those for whom the modern selfie just doesn’t cut it. This incredible exhibition runs until 22nd September, bringing together more than 220 “reflective” works. From Egyptian bronze mirrors to the work of Michelangelo Pistoletto: mirrors, mirrors everywhere. A good lesson for designers before they embark on the most psychoanalytic - and the most “absent”- object in our homes.

Air takes centre stage: the exhibition Design on Air takes its title from Bruno Munari’s famous performance (1969) at the Centre d’Innovation et de Design del Grand Hornu in Hornu, Belgium (runs until 23rd October). Even though we don’t normally regard the air between the “construction materials” as design or art, here there is air everywhere: air as a “filler” for inflatable objects (cf. the unforgettable Blow by De Pas D’Urbino Lomazzi for Zanotta in 1967), air as a production technique (capable of breathing life into masterpieces such as Jasper Morrison’s Air Chair for Magis in 2000), the air in Franco Mazucchelli’s inflatable sculptures and even in Jeff Koons’s steel sculptures.

How will we live together?: this delicate question constitutes the theme for the next Venice Architecture Biennale (23rd May – 29th November 2020), as recently announced by Hashim Sarkis, the newly-appointed curator of the event: “We need a new spatial contract, in the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.” Sarkis, a Lebanese architect with his own design studio with offices in Beirut and Cambridge, is Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, but is not widely known to the general public.

Due homage: the exhibition Nanda Vigo. Light Project, curated by Marco Meneguzzo, is on at Palazzo Reale until 29th September. An acknowledged star of Italian design, she rubbed shoulders with artists such as Gio Ponti, Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, forging a bold and original career path and, aside from the objective value of her work, she remains an example of the art of brokering a rapport between art and design on one hand and a role model for women designers on the other. The exhibition includes masterpieces such as her Chronotypes (also showcased life-sized), her lamps for Arredoluce and her mirrors for Glas.

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