Robert Carter, Carlo Scarpa

Robert Carter, Carlo Scarpa (London, UK: Phaidon Press Ltd., 2013) 286 pages with many illustrations in both color and black and white.

The exhibit “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Glass Company 1932-1947”, which was recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, was, in many ways, an excellent counterpart to this book. The exhibit not only underlined the fundamental skills of Scarpa in making things but also highlighted his understanding and masterful ability to manipulate materiality, in this case glass, and to achieve a form that is intrinsic to and expressive of the material. It is that same ability that we later see in his design work in concrete and the design interventions in very significant historic buildings.   Like so many European designers before and after World War II, Scarpa was greatly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and many of his projects reflect that interest. However, probably his best known work, aside from the Brioni Cemetery, is these much admired architectural interventions in historic buildings. They are bold and ‘frankly modern’. They are also able to enhance and bring out the spirit of the building without slavishly copying historic detail. While reflecting Italian conservation philosophy and theory at the time and designed when the so-called Venice charter was taking form, these interventions, ironically, would now not be allowed or seen as acceptable in the established preservation community. Nevertheless his work remains an inspiration for many architects and, without a doubt, his work itself now deserves preservation. Hopefully this well-illustrated book can contribute to the discussion not just about architecture, preservation and the role of design but also about the preservation of modern architecture.   Purchase via Amazon
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