Published  30/11/2004

Genoa - Inspired by Celant

A timely exhibition which runs at the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, until 14 February 2005, is entitled 'Arts and Architecture'. This exhibition is another boost for the prevalent theory that architecture and art must be indissolubly linked if excellence is to prevail. What better location for the show than Italy and who better than long-term architectural guru Germano Celant? Celant is himself a native Genoan and the city was chosen as a European Capital of Culture for 2004.

There are also installations by Anselm Kiefer, Frank Gehry and the Genoese architect Renzo Piano and both the cellar (covering the period 1900-1960) and the second floor (from 1960-present), provide thought-provoking vindication of the role of architecture as a catalyst for all the arts in the 20th century.

The show opens with Fernand Leger's 'Les Constructeurs', depicting the erection of a skyscraper. The Italian Futurists’ early fascination with aspects of the modern city is captured well. 'Skyscrapers and Tunnel', a painting by Fortunato Depero, embodies the spirit of metropolitan adulation and carries the leitmotif for the new urban culture of the 20th century. Furthermore, in its collapsed, high-rise buildings, it is weirdly anticipatory of New York's 9/11 Armageddon.

The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is also covered well. Kasimir Malevich, represented by the 1978 Paul Pederson model of his 1923 project for a building, reveals the flow from Suprematism to Constructivism and El Lissitsky is very much to the fore here. The Dutch contribution of De Stijl and the Bauhaus innovations, in interdisciplinary working across the board, serve to reiterate this idea of the ultimately indissoluble fusion of architecture and art. Examples of keynote works by both Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto simply corroborate such tendencies.

A reconstruction of Aldo Rossi's famous, floating 'Teatro del Mondo', intended for Venice in 1979, is an inspired exhibit which takes us into another surreal world - that of Italo Calvino and his 'Invisible Cities'.

Today, projects such as Will Alsop's extension to the College of Art and Design in Toronto seem to carry forward the whole concept of creative fusion exemplified by this exhibition and demonstrate the commitment of rising architects to it. Alsop is quoted as saying, 'Our work as architects, currently poised to be able to give the world extraordinary objects of design is under threat by people who see the world as a dull and uncultivated place of day-to-day tedium and boredom.' In a classically Futurist outburst, he then proclaims, 'Stop them, write them out of your story'.

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