The exhibition “Scarpa/Olivetti. Songs of a shared story” tells the extraordinary twenty years of collaboration between Carlo Scarpa and Adriano Olivetti and, more generally, with the Ivrea-based company.
The exhibition itinerary opens with a timeline in the corridor of the Archives Center that traces the salient episodes of over twenty years of relationships, from the first meeting in 1952 to 1978, the year of the architect’s imminent death. In this period, the Scarpa / Olivetti partnership saw the birth of three exceptional projects: the one for the Brusson mountain colony in Valle d’Aosta (never built because Scarpa did not win the competition), the very famous shop in Piazza San Marco in Venice and the exhibition for British Olivetti in London. These projects are illustrated in detail by drawings, photographs, documents and publications displayed inside the room, coming from the Carlo Scarpa Archive kept by MAXXI Architecture.
“Scarpa/Olivetti. Songs of a shared story”
December 3, 2021 – May 29, 2022
MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art
Via Guido Reni, 4a, Rome
Says Margherita Guccione, Director of MAXXI Architettura: “The relationship between Scarpa and Olivetti allows us to tell a page of excellence in the Italian history of the twentieth century. An opportunity made possible by the professional archive of Carlo Scarpa, preserved in the architectural collections of the MAXXI, a precious documentary heritage that over time has given us many opportunities for study and research but also for enhancement, revealing the many and evocative meanings of work of the Venetian master.
Carlo Scarpa’s relationship with the entrepreneur from Ivrea and more generally with the “Olivetti world”, originates and is consolidated within the variegated Olivetti “community”: the various opportunities for contact between the two are part of a wider and more multifaceted network of direct and indirect relationships with figures linked to art, politics, university and culture in general. The result is an atypical client relationship in which we discover an unexpected sharing of values, themes and events that have marked the Italian architectural culture in the twentieth century.
The first meeting between Scarpa and Olivetti took place in 1952 on the occasion of the IV Congress of the National Urban Planning Institute in Venice. The name and work of Scarpa, who was also awarded the Olivetti prize for architecture in 1956, began to find a certain resonance in those years on the pages of some publications of Edizioni di Comunità, the publishing house specializing in social sciences of which was the inspiration and animator Adriamo Olivetti himself, and through the intermediation of authoritative figures of history and art and architecture criticism, such as Bruno Zevi, Carlo Ludovico Raggianti, Sergio Bettini, Licisco Magagnato, Giuseppe Mazzariol and Pier Carlo Santini .
The relationship of professional and personal esteem established between Carlo Scarpa and Adriano Olivetti has therefore translated several times into design occasions commissioned by the Ivrea-based company, also following the death of its charismatic founder in 1960: in addition to the well-known showroom in Piazza San Marco in Venice (1957-58), Scarpa took part in a competition launched by Olivetti in 1955 for the construction of a mountain colony in Brusson in the Aosta Valley and, in 1969, he set up the Frescoes from Florence exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London as a sign of gratitude for the help provided by the English people in Florence during the flood.
The three projects drawn up by Carlo Scarpa on behalf of Olivetti, respectively with a social, commercial and cultural vocation, are emblematic expressions of Olivetti’s complex architectural program and above all attest to points of convergence and harmony and fields of commitment shared with Scarpa.