The MART is one of Italy’s most important contemporary art museums , and last year they were one of only four Italian museums on twitter (now there are 7, wow. See followamuseum). This made me really curious, enough to stop in Rovereto on my way back down to Florence from my Sud-Tirol weekend this past Spring. I was particularly interested in seeing the fabulous structure, with its signature glass topped courtyard, designed by Mario Botta and inaugurated only in 2002.

Mart Rovereto glass topped courtyard. Photo: Franco Bertolani
Mart Rovereto glass topped courtyard. Photo: Franco Bertolani

Now an exhibit, opened last week, focuses precisely on this architecture, and specifically on its Swiss architect. Sounds like an excuse to go to Rovereto!! From 25 September 2010 to 23 January 2011 “Mario Botta. Architecture 1960-2010” is an exhibition curated by the architect himself, with the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli.

Mario Botta, House in Breganzona

The exhibition documents the most significant works by Mario Botta, who was born in Mendrisio in 1943 and graduated from university in Venice, over many years of successful professional activity: from the first detached homes, original expressions of the Ticino school to the large public buildings, libraries, theatres, museums, churches and synagogues constructed throughout the world. Over 90 projects will be on display, all of them built, documented with original sketches and models, unpublished photographs and documents.

The exhibition will be divided into 12 sections: the first is entitled “Meetings” and provides a sort of introductory space comprising the works and memories of artists and works, of cultural and musical figures who have left a profound mark on the man and the architect.

The other sections, called Living, Workplaces, Schools, Libraries and free time, Urban reconnections, Museums, Theatres, Sacred spaces, Interiors, explore the personal developments in design that led Mario Botta to work in every form of construction sector. In particular, it is worth noting the fascinating documents for the Musée Tinguely in Basle, for the MoMA in San Francisco, for the Dürrenmatt Centre in Neuchâtel, for the restoration of La Scala in Milan and, naturally, for the Mart di Rovereto itself.

The last sections are dedicated to Mario Botta’s creations in the field of Layouts, Set Design and Design: from the successful chairs designed in the early 1980s for Alias to the lamps, including the “Shogun” sold by Artemide as of 1985, and to the recent “Table for Cleto Munari”.

Mario Botta’s architectural development has its roots in an interpretation of the Modern Movement and remains faithful to its tenets, taking the form today of “critical reasoning” before the fragility of models and fashions offered by globalisation. In his studio in Lugano, the Ticino-born architect designs buildings that base their raison d’être on an awareness of interpreting the sensitivity of contemporary culture and at the same time of evoking that territory of history and of memory constituting the true heritage of identity of European architecture. “The fabric of memory”, writes Botta in the text of the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, “is a living reality that draws us in like philosophy or the history of art”. Botta’s stance should not be considered a yielding to nostalgia: past and present live together in his figurative language, formed of geometry and materials. He is perfectly aware of the need to tackle the complexity and frenzy of contemporary living:

My objective is to offer a space in which man can feel himself a protagonist in the silence of his own solitude, and at the same time participate in a collective rite. It is within the complexity and rapidity of current transformations that the architect is called upon to elaborate these new project responses.

Botta’s architecture revives a primitive vocation of essential form that models man’s living space and which, reflecting the functions which it should provide, aspires to offer fresh emotions.

If you cannot make it to the MART, the exhibition will then travel to the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel (Switzerland) where it will be from 1 April to 28 August 2011.

Further information:

exhibit dates: 25 September 2010 to 23 January 2011
MartRovereto – Corso Bettini, 43 38068 Rovereto (TN)
Opening hours: Tues. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Fri. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. / Mondays closed
Tickets 10/7 euro

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