Gianni Pettena

( in Portraits (impressionistes et véridiques) d’architectes. Paris, Norma Editions, 2005)


At recent exhibitions on radical architecture could be seen strolling, with a big smile on his face a man-child with a luminous gaze, open onto life as he perceives it.

This astonished-looking man, always waiting for a surprise for us and for himself, is sometimes referred to as an architect-artist or vice versa, but always as an anarchitect. A limpid explanation, in so far as it is possible to define a man as unpredictable in his thought processes as Gianni Pettena. His Clay House of 1972, covered with a thick layer of red mud spread uniformly over its roof, walls, windows and doors, enclosed the owners in a funereal coating until the crust had dried. Its cracked crust represents a great moment in the history of art and architecture combined. Shortly before this, in 1971, Pettena had created an Ice House in Minneapolis, covered with ice instead of mud. Repeating the offense in 1972, he justified this transmigration by likening his action to that of a landscape guerrilla.

Have no fear, this well-mannered individual, a clean person himself, with no trace of mud or ice, remains dangerous.

And I adore him.