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Le Corbusier saw always Italy: in his formative years, and in those of his maturity.
Two things we suggest, in relation to these two moments. In the formative years, Le Corbusier ‘fishing with both hands’ in Italian architecture history. His intuitions of the equation Modern = purity of geometric forms are reflections which, as you know, is looking at the Italian architecture and their dialectical relationship with the surrounding landscape and light. There are, in this show, a couple of sketches really wonderful towards this direction, for who have knowledge of architecture designed.
Beautiful because they are indicative of the (real) way to ‘re-think the architecture’ by the protagonists of the Modern Architecture, from the beginning of ‘900. The Modern architects have, after all, re-designed the Architecture of History more than any twentieth-century historicist attitude. The idea of the Modern Movement as anti-historical era was, and it proved to be, a exclusively mythology of historiography (or historians).
Always in the formative years, we like to emphasize the great attendance of sketches and drawings by hand, as a instrument of research of meaning. They were, and are, the only means by which to shape the thoughts in progress. In the age of digital and teconology rhetoric, the large amount of Le Corbusier sketches (but not only him, of course) is there to show that the hand is the only instruments to which to escape the thoughts from our heads . The other forms, produce only ectoplasm of thought.
The years of maturity, on the occasions of the 60’s project for Italy, still find his ‘walking among the ruins':
the project for the Hospital of Venice (1964), one of the Olivetti Computer Centre in Rho Milan (1962), to a church in Bologna (1965).
In these cases, the Le Corbusier more mature, views History in the eyes, with the knowledge of the great Architecture Master. It looks without complex, but in any case with absolute devotion and respect. Generating the dialectic between the old and the new (the Venice project, specially), which is, in our opinions, the road must to be explored.
Finally, we have to underline the sense implied by the exhibition of the Maxxi. And it’s our opinion: how many lost opportunities for development in Italy!