Premio Masaccio, S. Giovanni Valdarno (Ar), 1968
The set up consisted in the external plugging of the colonnades of the Palazzo Comunale made with wood, black roofing felt and aluminum foil.
A camouflage, a "diagonal" interpretation of
a Renaissance building attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. The project functions as an invasion of the spaces of the galleries: the differentiation-contradistinction of the surfaces and materials,
with their rules and proportions, produces almost a lesson of architecture that, for once, teaches us to read the building as a sequence of façades as well: closing up the empty spaces of the
portico and the galleries, and installing the exhibition in these spaces, created an opportunity for people to perceive the volume as a whole and then, when the exhibition was dismantled several
months later, to restore their original perception of the place.
The images of this setting, later called Pettena/Arnolfo Dialogue, will become one of the landmarks in Gianni Pettena’s work.
Notre Dame de Paris. Il ritorno dei re (The return of the kings) , Refectory of Santa Maria Novella, 1980
Catalogue Vallecchi, Florence
The title of the exhibition (The Return of the Kings) alludes to the heads of the statues of Carolingian kings, originally located on the façade of Notre-Dame and replaced after the Revolution with sculptures by Viollet-le-Duc, that were rediscovered by chance during excavation work carried out in Paris for the vault of a bank. The heads, from the Romanesque period, were put on show in Florence as well, after being exhibited at such prestigious museums as the Metropolitan in New York. Pettena’s system of display proved particularly suggestive and was in fact highly appreciated by the critics and by artists and architects for its ability to evoke, through a cunning use of light, the “presence” of the kings, as the heads stood out as the only illuminated elements in a setting that, precisely because of its imposing character, was kept in semidarkness.
Architettura corretta londinese, Palazzo Te, Mantova, 1981
Catalogo Ed. Casa del Mantegna, Mantova
The exhibition is part of Pettena’s continuous activity as a critic devoted to contemporary avant-garde in architecture. Here, in the early ‘80s he was already presenting the work of such young architects from London as Nigel Coates, Zaha Hadid, Jenny Lowe and Peter Wilson who would later become very successful also, at least Coates, in the field of design.
Venturi, Rauch and Scott-Brown, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Firenze, 1981
Catalogue Electa, Milan
Richard Meier, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence, 1981
Catalogue Marsilio, Venice
Nigel Coates, Zaha Hadid, Jenny Lowe, Peter Wilson: quattro aspetti dell'architettura contemporanea londinese, Azienda Autonoma Turismo, Fiesole, 1982
Catalogue Ed. APT, Fiesole
Superstudio 1966-1982: storie, figure, architetture, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence, 1982
Catalogue Electa, Florence
Architectural Teaching USA, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno,1985
Catalogue Ed. la Casa Usher, Florence
Maurizio Nannucci, Sala d'Arme, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, 1983
Once again the preparation was based on a working of space: three strong elements (a large and somewhat irregular “Z,” in the form of a lightning bolt, and two wedge-shaped divisions) that were sufficient to organize the different parts of the exhibition, while creating absolutely minimal spaces with respect to the imposing medieval setting. A handling of the space that, owing to its conceptual organization, realized in dialogue with the artist (Maurizio Nannucci), ended up rivaling the works on show with its presence. This was almost a repetition of what happened with the preparation of the Premio Masaccio at San Giovanni Valdarno in 1968, where the “radical” intervention in Arnolfo di Cambio’s palace had to some extent distracted the public’s attention from the works on display.
Il polo espositivo: un tema, due architetti. Arata Isozaki, O.M. Ungers, Piazza SS. Annunziata, Florence, 1988
Catalogue Electa, Florence
Hans Hollein. Opere 1960-1988, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence, 1988
Catalogue Ideabooks, Milan
This anthological exhibition on the work of the Austrian master, which included his experimental activity, drawings, architecture and design projects, was accompanied by a monography on his work, the first ever realized to that date.
Visioni d'Ambiente, Spedale degli Innocenti, Florence, 1988
The exhibition, whose subtitle was “Mirages of Architecture and Design,” was dedicated to architecture in its most fantastic expressions, to projects and cities in which all architectural space becomes a form of art, from painting through the cartoon strip to video. For this presentation of contemporary works compared with illustrious examples of the products of the historical avant-garde, the setting had in some way to bring out the ambiguous and visionary dimension of the conceptual inspiration of the exhibition, distinguishing itself by contrast from the stylistic harmony of the Renaissance building in which the exhibition was housed, while maintaining its rigor and sobriety. Of the three sections that made it up, the first was a large circle, an imaginary Stonehenge in which the menhirs were objects of design. The second was a correction of perspective that “resisted” the laws of perception by modifying them: a divergent space that, closed off by a portal, could not be seen from the entrance but which, as you passed through it, allowed you for once to transcend the perspective perception of space, since the lines of the exhibition “corridor” apparently did not converge on a vanishing point but remained parallel. Finally, the third section consisted of a metal structure on which were hung, at ceiling height, pictures with futuristic images of the cities of tomorrow.
Ettore Sottsass sr. Architetto, Palazzo delle Albere, Trent, 1991
Catalogue Electa, Milan
The exhibition, strongly wished and promoted by the son, Ettore Sottsass jr, was also the occasion for going through the materials of the architect from Trent and cataloguing them. A great part of these materials was published in the catalogue of the exhibition and then gathered in an archive that was later donated to the Trent MART by the son himself
Casa Malaparte, Centro d'Arte Spazio Tempo, Florence, 1992
Olmsted: L'origine del parco urbano e del parco naturale contemporaneo, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, june/august 1996
Catalogue Cento Di, Florence
Uno scrittore in rivolta. La casa di Capri, Chiesino di Sant'Ambrogio, Prato, 1996
Radicals. Architettura e design 1960-1975, Italian Pavillon, Venice Biennale, 1996
Catalogue Il Ventilabro/La Biennale di Venezia
At the Venice Biennale of 1996, dedicated by the commissioner Hans Hollein to the theme of the “architect as seismograph,” Pettena organized a documentary exhibition on the period of the “Radical” movement in the Italian Pavilion, as a historical introduction to contemporary experimentation. From the end of the fifties until around the middle of the seventies, the Radicals had brought the canons of the discipline into question with varied and innovative propositions. However, these were viewed by the critics of the time and of the following years as an essentially conceptual contribution, as “fantastic” theories and utopian visions of the future. In Venice, in the prestigious setting of the Biennale, Pettena presented them for the first time with the role and dignity of precursors of the most innovative production of the contemporary, international architectural scene. The exhibition represented an important stage in the personal development of its curator, engaged in constant critical research into the contemporary avant-garde movements in architecture, and undoubtedly helped to revive interest in Radical Architecture and its exponents, to which increasingly numerous exhibitions and publications have been devoted since that time.
Niki de Saint Phalle. Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, Polveriera Guzman, Orbetello, 1997
Catalogue Charta, Milan
Giardini Parchi Paesaggi. L’avventura delle idee in Toscana dall’Ottocento a oggi”, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, april/july 1998
Catalogue Le Lettere, Florence
The theme of the exhibition, held at the Uffizi two years after the one on F.L. Olmsted, examined the subject of landscape architecture in reference to Tuscany from the 19th century to the present This set out to illustrate a historical course of development that also entailed the consideration and reevaluation of the landscape that results from human activity (reclamations, quarries, etc.) and extended as far as an analysis and presentation of the most modern theme parks of sculpture and environmental art.
Archipelago. Architettura sperimentale 1959-1999, Palazzo Fabroni Arti Visive Contemporanee, Pistoia, may/july1999
Catalogue Gli Ori, Maschietto & Musolino
In the exhibition the panels that detached themselves, like pages of a book to be browsed through, from the walls of the antique rooms of the Palazzo Fabroni in Pistoia, while merging with those same walls by virtue of the facing used, presented drawings, images and writings of the “historic” Radical movement. Here, however, the timescale extended right up to the present, underlining the conceptual continuity that, while discernible in the Venetian exhibition (“Radicals”, Venice Biennale, 1996), was not openly declared. The presence of works by artists and architects which showed to just what extent disciplinary partitions were obsolete reaffirmed the modernity of the “Radical” movement: a way of interpreting architecture, above and beyond its functions, chiefly on the basis of its symbolic content, its capacity to enrich itself in its contents and languages through continual “encroachments” into the realm of the other arts.
Schegge dal cielo blu, SESV, Dept of Architecture, Florence, giu/lug. 2000
Catalogue Ed. Facoltà di Architettura, Florence
Una città sui muri: i manifesti di Fiesole 1903-2003, Palazzina Mangani, Fiesole, nov/dic. 2003
Radical Design . Ricerca e progetto dagli anni ’60 a oggi, Casa Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno, june/september, 2004
Catalogue m&m, Florence
Vienna e dintorni. Abraham/Hollein/Peintner/Pettena/Pichler/Sottsass, Galleria Giovanni Bonelli, Milan, 29.11.2012-2.2.2013
Catalogue Vanillaedizioni, 2014
The exhibition, curated by Gianni Pettena for the Galleria Bonelli in Milan, presented the work of Abraham, Hollein, Peintner, Pichler, Sottsass and Pettena himself. The fact of having been born in the first half of the 20th century within a radius of a few kilometers of each other (with Bolzano at the center), and for Hollein the fact of having worked with Pichler and thus having been infected by the same virus, allowed each of these architects-artists to get “under the skin” of the others’ work. It united them in a “radical” process, the conceptual and linguistic reassessment of a sphere like design and architecture that in their hands was expanded and modified in such a significant way that it continues to influence art and architecture today.