31 October 2019

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

Richard Artschwager at MART Rovereto: Curated by Germano Celant, in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the first great retrospective devoted to the American artist, who died in 2013, runs until 2nd February 2020. An extremely complex person, acquaintance with him seems to have been both fundamental and stimulating for architects and designers. The perception of space is central to his oeuvre and architectural details and furnishing pieces often appear in his work.

Thomas Stearns at Venini: the extraordinary round of exhibitions continues at Le Stanze del Vetro, at the Cini Foundation (Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice). The series of previous exhibitions (a list that, in itself, testifies to their high quality) were devoted to Carlo Scarpa, Napoleone Martinuzzi, Tomaso Buzzi, the de Santillana, Finnish Glass, Vienna 1900-1937, Paolo Venini, Fulvio Bianconi, Ettore Sottsass, Vittorio Zecchin, the CIRVA and Maurice Martinot. The American artist Stearns arrived at the Venini aged 24, where he proposed such provocative pieces, both one-offs and limited editions, that practically all the Masters refused to work with him. Seventy years on, his oeuvre has been brought together for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Marino Barovier. Until 5th January 2020.

Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World: a portrait of one of the heroines of the modern age at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, until 24th February 2020. In the shadow of the more famous Le Corbusier, with whom she worked from 1927 to 1937, for many years, Perriand was not just an extraordinary designer but also one of the few women who managed to carve out a place for herself in a world then dominated by men. She left for Japan in 1940, where she was held prisoner during the war, and led an extraordinarily adventurous life that she herself recounted in A Life of Creation, a must-read-again before visiting the exhibition!

Milan-Genoa-Milan, or, more simply, Milan-Milan-Genoa: the extraordinary age of Italian painting between the two world wars is being celebrated simultaneously in three different places. The trail leads from Milan’s Palazzo Reale where Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical masterpieces are on show until 22nd January 2020, and then through the courtyard leading to the Museo del Novecento for a total immersion in an in-depth exploration of the work of Filippo de Pisis (until 1st March 2020), before ending up in Genoa where the magical Palazzo Ducale is hosting a conclusive overview of the Twenties in The Age of Uncertainty (until 11th March 2020).

Why stage an exhibition of this kind (and why visit it): huge controversy surrounds the Design of the Third Reich exhibition, which, as the title clearly sets out, is devoted to design during the Nazi era. The curators of the Den Bosch Design Museum in Hertogenbosch pointed out that design reflects the whole world with all its positive and negative sides, and that the exhibition Design of the Third Reich showed design as a tool in the hands of the greatest forces of darkness. The Nazis were extremely skilled at leveraging design to achieve their aims, in order both to convince and to destroy a huge number of people. This is probably a correct theoretical stance, as long as it is not applied to the criteria for building the gas chambers! Runs until 19th January 202 (luckily selfies are banned!).

Red Vienna: Red Vienna was the nickname for the period between 1919 and 1934 which saw the Austrian capital launch a major subsidised urban housing programme, with the building of the HOF apartment blocks to house thousands of workers. These were enormous, largely “autonomous” buildings that echoed the utopian 19th century phalansteries. The most famous of these is the Karl-Marx-Hof, designed by Karl Ehn, 1,100 meters long and containing 1,382 apartments. It encloses communal facilities and health centres, a library, a nursery school, shops of all kinds and even a large park. The Red Vienna exhibition is perfectly accessible to the general public, but is unmissable for fans of architectural history: at the Wien Museum until 19th January 2020.

Rosanna Bianchi Piccoli ceramist: Unique Pieces. Until 6th January 2020, 10 Corso Como in Milan is holding an exhibition of work by Rosanna Bianchi Piccoli. The location might seem confusing – there’s no fashion element in the work of the redoubtable 90-year-old - rather a desire to retrieve traditional skills that inform primordial shapes, decorated in bold, flat colours. The artist prefers to call them Sacred Pots rather than Unique Pieces (as the title of the exhibition suggests), because she holds the ancient craft of the potter sacred, while the abstract nature of the shapes fully responds to a technique and a purpose. Unmissable!

Someone always gets forgotten: The exhibition Lina Bo Bardi and Giancarlo Palanti. Studio d’Arte Palma, 1948-1951 at the Design Museum Gent, brings together the very well-known architect Lina Bo and her often overlooked counterpart Giancarlo Palanti. Nevertheless, throughout the Thirties and until the end of the war, Palanti became known as one of the top Italian architects, a partner of Albini, and a contributor to Domus and Casabella. He moved to Brazil in 1949, playing a significant part in the formation of local designers and, during his short partnership with Bo Bardi, helped to generate an “autochthonous” style of furnishing. Many of his forgotten pieces are now on show in Belgium until 16th February 2020, thanks in part to the Milanese Nilufar Gallery.

Pimpa, Armando and not least Cipputi: apologies if we seem “frivolous,” but among the notifications of great exhibitions, we could not but include the Francesco Tullio Altan retrospective at the Maxxi in Rome, which runs until 12th January 2020. From the mid-Seventies to the present day, his vest-clad builders, his red polka dot puppies, his god known simply as Trino and their lightning affirmations have helped us to interpret reality a lot better than many bombastic writings.

Canova, the impossible. Unquestionably the most classic of all the classics, Canova sought to show us the way to “impossible” beauty. More than 100 works by this Neo-Classical master are on show at Rome’s Palazzo Braschi (until 15th March 2020, along with images by Mimmo Jodice, a photographer who certainly knows a thing or two about the great classics!). What might at first appear to be an algid exhibition, given the icy white of the marble and plaster works, it is actually highly erotic.

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