Milan

Although I have been to Milan several times, I hardly feel I know it.   I wanted to see the Brera, so walked.

First stop was the military headquarters in the Via del Carmine, with its intriguing brutalist sculpture:-

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The officers’ mess is in Ruggeri’s Palazzo Cusani (1719) next door:-

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I liked the bombast of this late nineteenth-century house in the Via Borgonuovo:-

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Then, I headed south to see the Torre Velasca, by BBPR, which was apparently criticised by the CIAM Congress in 1959 and regarded by Reyner Banham as representing the ‘Italian retreat from Modern Architecture’. Looks pretty modern to me:-

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Last stop before a long, hot march into the suburbs was S. Nazaro. I never did find the Trivulzio Mausoleum:-

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Museo del Castelvecchio

I stopped off in Verona to visit the Museo del Castelvecchio because it has such a central place in the history of postwar museum design, comprehensively renovated by Carlo Scarpa between 1959 and 1973 in a style which is deliberately abstract and ahistorical, with medieval sculptures displayed without surrounding context against plaster walls:-

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S. Marta (early fourteenth century):-

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The Virgin Mary Swooning, also from San Fermo, an anonymous but amazing artist described as the Master of Sant’ Anastasia:-

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S. Martino and the Beggar by the Master of 1436:-

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This is the vocabulary of concrete mixed with medievalism, which was very characteristic of 1950s Italy:-

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Upstairs, the paintings are exhibited attached to metal rods suspended from floor to ceiling, a style which presumably influenced Lina Bo Bardi in São Paulo:-

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There’s an exceptionally beautiful Carlo Crivelli of the Madonna of the Passion:-

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David Chipperfield RA

The reason for coming to Vicenza was to see the large exhibition about the work of David Chipperfield, held upstairs in the Basilica Palladiana, full of wooden models, which are used very much by the office during the work, and outline formal diagrams, stripped of context and detail, in order to demonstrate his deep interest in modelling and formal geometry.

It includes a great number of projects I didn’t know about:  a big private house in Cherwell (2006-2018);  Lah Contemporary, a private museum in Bled, complete with multiple working drawings and sketches:-

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Ingawa Cemetery chapel, done for Hide Osawa and opened last year.

His amazing project for a grand new elliptical, neoclassical concert hall in Edinburgh New Town:-

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The James Simon Gallery, due to open later this year and programmatic in the way that it refers to Schinkel (it also takes pride of place in the Biennale):-

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Also, the work he does for fashion stores – Brioni in the Rue Saint-Honoré and Madison Avenue and Valentino.

I very nearly missed the section devoted to the RA, which is represented by beautiful, detailed drawings (I have never previously seen these), and a wooden model:-

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And the Lecture Theatre in immaculate styrofoam:-

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Vicenza (2)

After the Teatro Olimpico, I doubled back to pick up the buildings I had missed first time.

The Palazzo Thiene, designed by Giulio Romano, but executed by Palladio:-

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The Loggia del Capitaniato, much richer in surface ornament and sculptural decoration than the earlier Basilica:-

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And, lastly, the Basilica Palladiana itself, commissioned in 1546, when Palladio was 40, and begun in April 1549:-

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Vicenza (1)

I started my Palladian tour at the Palazzo Porto, an incomplete project, two bays only, designed for Alessandro Porto in 1571:-

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Then, the Palazzo Valmarana, 1565, for Isabella Nogarola Valmarana:-

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The Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, designed in 1569 for Montano Barbarano, a man ‘of belles lettres and an excellent musician’, and now the Museo Palladio (models of other projects):-

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The Teatro Olimpico, Palladio’s last great work (he died in August 1580 just after completing the design) and built during the 1580s for the Accademia Olimpica and with stage scenery by Scamozzi. It opened on 3 March 1585 with a performance of Oedipus Rex and is, to an extent, the inspiration for David Chipperfield’s Lecture Theatre in Burlington Gardens (he believes Pennethorne’s design is based on it, but his is closer):-

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