Rare among the prolific and recognized stars of the Modern movement, Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) and his work has never before been the subject of a comprehensive monograph. This month, Phaidon publishes a meticulously researched definitive monograph, written by Robert McCarter, on the Venetian architect and master craftsman. The author is a practicing architect and professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Conveniently timed, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will present an exhibition, opening on November 5, of Scarpa's glasswork for Venini, for which he served as artistic consultant from 1932, when he was only mid-twenties, until 1947. In those fifteen years, he created over two dozen styles for the venerable company, pioneering techniques, silhouettes and colors that revolutionized the traditional world of glass. (The exhibition will run through March 2, 2014.)
Vasi Battuti, 1940-6, Venini & C, photo courtesy Archivio Barovier
It was only after his work with Venini that Scarpa began his career as an architect. His work is firmly rooted in the culture of his Venice, while also drawing from Japanese culture and numerology. The monograph carefully details 15 of his projects, from homes to museums to churches, with over 400 images and architectural drawings. They include the Brion cemetery in San Vito d'Altivole, the Olivetti showroom in Venice's Piazza San Marco, the Zentner house in Zurich, and the renovation of the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona.
Fondazione Querini Stampalia renovations, Venice, 1961-63. Gianantonio Battistella © CISA- A. Palladio
As McCarter writes in his introduction, "…the continued relevance of Scarpa's work lies in the fact that his architecture was determined and shaped by the experience of the inhabitant, as someone living in a particular place, to a degree rarely found anywhere else within Modern architecture."
Veritti House, Udine, 1955-6. © Aldo Ballo
Another defining trait of Scarpa's works: drawings which rarely match the completed work. Scarpa's work helped revive lost craft forms by including traditional building materials and techniques in "new" projects, which typically transformed the direction of the project from his vision at the onset. The architect was so consumed by the experience of a space as opposed to the representation of it that heretofore that's been a hinderance to capture in the pages of a book.
Written by Zoe Settle