miércoles, 14 de diciembre de 2011

Cartoline

"Chiesa di San Domenico, Bologna" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)


"Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté."
Charles Baudelaire, L' Invitation au voyage, (1857).1


Una vez en París en la rue d'Assas, visitando la casa de unos amigos arquitectos, me topé con un artefacto, especie de esperpento de hierro, muy cercano formalmente al Egouttoir de Marcel Duchamp: un gran Porta-postales. Estaba repleto de postales de ciudades. Y de postales, lógicamente, de arquitectura. Era por lo tanto un monumento a la memoria urbana. Un itinerario personal. Y un viaje.

El singular tótem reunía cartas postales de muchos sitios y edificios de la historia que aunque me eran familiares, allí lucían distintos. Se notaba que las postales habían sido recibidas efectivamente, o que habían sido escogidas con afecto en otro egouttoir más callejero. Tomar una infundía respeto: era una invitation au voyage. Ello, y la tentación a meterse la postal en el bolsillo, resultaban sencillamente terribles. Fue allí que me volví coleccionista empedernida, ¡yo también!

Besos y abrazos. Ricordi. Souvenirs. No me olvides jamás. Wish You Were Here. Esta es la vista más bella, aquí está la clave del paisaje. Este es el edificio más emblemático. Desde aquí, el mejor crepúsculo de la Riviera. En ésta, las plazas de Italia. Sincere auguri. La escalinata, la rada, el balcón, el panorama. Forget Me Not. La estampa es del tamaño justo: calza en una mano. Le doy la vuelta, y dejo mi registro. De mi puño y letra, la clave de mi caligrafía: mi prisa, mi ansiedad, mi nostalgia, mi rúbrica. Escribiendo, invoco el tiempo ideal en que se conjugan las Slow Cities.

En cada lugar del mundo las postales han sido el sensible registro del hilo de la vida, la testimonianza. Aún de la contemporánea. Al escoger el fotográfo el mejor punto de vista y lanzarlo al mundo, esa imagen inicia un viaje postal, que implica, como sabemos, infinitas idas y vueltas. Así, el viaje que hemos podido disfrutar gracias a la exposición 150 Saluti e baci, organizada por el Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas para celebrar los 150 años de la Unidad de Italia (1861-2011), es también a su manera, otro monumento a la memoria urbana.

"Venezia-Canal grande" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Curada por Luigina Peddi, honorable Agregado Cultural de Italia en Venezuela, la exposición ofrece un recorrido por todas las regiones italianas en casi doscientas postales antiguas. Allí trabaja con una selección tomada del archivo Colloridi y de las colecciones Tinto & Tomat, buscando revivir "los hechos acontecidos en el país durante el período más significativo de la Unidad de Italia, para conocer la evolución de los italianos y entender sus sentimientos y reacciones más profundas."2

Aunque la mano que guía los recorridos propone muchos caminos posibles en el denso bosque simbólico de usos, costumbres y tradiciones que interpretan los cambios de la sociedad -como el análisis de la grafía-, es el intercambio de postales de ciudades y lugares históricos y artísticos, "sinónimo de un orgullo nacional que expresa el deseo de compartir el rico patrimonio", el que nos atrapa.3

"Rimini, Kursaal" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

En el brillante desfile postal aparecen en primer lugar las Città d'arte. Una a una, con sus sempiternas maravillas. Bologna a la acuarela. Roma, con un Anfiteatro Flavio tridmensional. Venecia multicolor en su Canal grande. Rimini y su neoclásico Kursaal. El simétrico Palazzo del Litorio de Udine enclavado en su bidente urbano, y en la cartolina de Trento, el Cortile del Leone es el orgullo del Castello del Buon Consiglio. Florencia aparece retratada en la Piazza della Signoria y Milán en una gloriosa panorámica en sepia de su Stazione Centrale. Cierra el grupo un Torino di notte en Piazza San Carlo, con luces de neón a lo Calle Real de Sabana Grande.

"Trento-Castello del Buon Consiglio, Cortile dei Leoni" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Firenze-Piazza della Signoria, Loggia dell Orgagna" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Milano-Stazione Centrale" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Torino di notte-Piazza S. Carlo" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Luego viene el album de los años 1930s, Ricordo di Messina. Allí, sus treinta y dos incomparables vistas sobre fondo color marfil nos hacen preguntarnos qué diablos hemos hecho con nuestras vidas que aún no hemos visitado su lungomare...

"Ricordo di Messina-32 vedute" (Album - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Messina-Lungo mare-Sea promenade-Le long de la mer" (Album - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Inmediatamente se nos sorprende con una reflexión sobre el paisaje mediterráneo. Una serie de panoramas lo explica: en el panorama de ensueño de la Riviera dei Fiori, la ciudad costera de Alassio se aprecia desde lo alto en una visión idealizada. En el de Amalfi, la vista se descuelga hacia poniente; en la Riviera delle Palme, en la Liguria, encontramos un serpenteante "oasis de paz". Es la relación clásica que se establece desde tiempos inmemoriales con el Mare nostrum: la de la contemplación pasiva.

"Amalfi-Scorcio panoramica da ponente" (Album - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Finale Ligure-Riviera delle Palme-Un oasi di pace" (Album - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Más adelante -también en el tiempo-, otra postal marca la ruptura de esa visión marítima en lontananza. Está dedicada al "furioso sommozzatore" (buceador furioso). La gentil curadora nos la señala con atención en el itinerario. Aquí la costa mediterránea es fotografiada por primera vez de cerca: las olas rompen contra una terraza con "furie di onde" (furia de las olas). Un grupo de personas, no obstante, departe tranquilamente a su lado. Es la apropiación urbana del borde del agua.

"Furie di onde" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

En la serie siguiente, titulada convenientemente "Estate al mare" ("Verano en el mar"), el soberbio lungomare de Nettuno, cuenta ahora con calle, alameda, paseo, balaustrada y playa con sombrillas. Capas que se suceden hasta alcanzar la orilla. Es la ciudad que ha descendido al nivel del mar. Y, a partir de allí, el Golfo de la Spezia en Portovenere, el Casino Municipal de San Remo, directamente sobre la costa, y la moderna Marinella de Nervi, construida en las rocas. Con el auge de los balnearios, la playa se volverá una verdadera industria. Y las postales lo registrarán.

"Nettuno-Palazzo Comunale e lungomare" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Nervi-La Marinella e Golfo Paradiso" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Lo cierto es que por toda Italia la ciudad es redescubierta. Los pórticos ojivales de Bolzano. Los jardines públicos de Cuneo. Pallanza, en el Lago Maggiore. El dilatado panorama sutilmente otomano de la ciudad de Padova, con sus domos azules. Dipinto a mano.

"Bolzano Antica" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

"Padova" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Pero la que mejor lo certifica es una cartolina, bella entre todas, en blanco y negro. Retrata a la Torre del Mangia de Siena y su campana, que aflora desnuda por encima de la fábrica de ladrillo y piedra hasta que se convierte -en el medio del cielo-... en una veleta.

"Siena-Torre del Mangia" (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)

Desearíamos seguir por los interiores florentinos de la Santa Croce, por entre las columnas de Brindisi, por la edilicia desconocida de Lecce, por el litoral de Massa, por las fuentes de Roma, por los puentes de Taranto, Trento y Torino… Tánta arquitectura, tántas ciudades, tántas historias, tante cartoline! Portami via, anima mia. Mas no podemos llevarlas a todas en el bolsillo.4

Pero sí su invitación al viaje. Para irnos para siempre hacia a esa Italia idealizada: allá, donde todo es orden y belleza, lujo, calma y voluptuosidad.


Publicado en: Papel literario, El NACIONAL, Caracas, 11 de diciembre de 2011.

NOTAS
1. Baudelaire, Charles, Les Fleurs du Mal, Poulet-Malassis et de Broisse Librairies-Editeurs, París, (1857).
2. Peddi, Luigina, exposición 150 Saluti e baci, Instituto Italiano de Cultura, Caracas, (2011).
3. Peddi, L., Op.Cit., Caracas, (2011).

4. Zucchero, "Soldati nella mia città", en: Sugar Fornaciari Chocabeck, Universal Music Italia,(2010): 3.



Cartoline

Once being in Paris in the rue d'Assas, at the house of some friends architects, I ran into an artifact, a kind of iron grotesque, very close formally to Marcel Duchamp's Egouttoir: a big Postcard-holder. This was full of postcards of cities. And, logically, of postcards about architecture. It was therefore, a monument to urban memory. A personal itinerary. And a trip.

The singular totem gathered postcards from many places and buildings from history that, although were familiar to me, looked quite different there. You could see that the postcards had been actually received, or affectionately chosen in another
egouttoir on the street. To take one, instilled respect: it was an invitation au voyage. This, and the temptation to get the postcard in the pocket, were simply terrible. It was then that I turned into an inveterate collector, me too!


Kisses and hugs.
Ricordi. Souvenirs. Do not ever forget me. Wish you were here. This is the most beautiful view, here lays the key to the landscape. This is the most emblematic building. From here, the best sunset in the Riviera. In this one, the squares of Italy. Sincere auguri. The steps, the bay, the balcony, the panorama. Forget Me Not. The picture is the right size: fits in one hand. I turn it, and I leave my record. From my own handwriting, this is the key to my calligraphy: mi rush, mi ansiety, my nostalgia, my signature. Writing, I invoke the ideal time in which Slow Cities are conjugated.


In each place of the world postcards have been the sensitive record of life's thread,
la testimonianza. Even of contemporary life. When the photographer chooses the best point of view and sends it back to the world, that image begins a postal trip, that implies, as we all know, many twists and turns. Thus, the trip that we have been enjoying thanks to the exhibition 150 Saluti e baci, organized by the Instituto Italiano de Cultura of Caracas to celebrate 150 years of the Unification of Italy (1861-2011), is also, in its own way, another monument to urban memory.


Curated by Luigina Peddi, the honorable Cultural Attache of Italy in Venezuela, the exhibition offers a journey through all the Italian regions in almost two hundred antique postcards. She works with a selection belonging to the Colloridi archive and the Tinto & Tomat collections, looking to "relive the events that happened in the country during the most significant period of the Unification of Italy, in order to know the evolution of the Italian people and understand which were their deeper feelings and reactions."2

Although
the hand that guides proposes many possible paths within the dense symbolic forest of uses, customs and traditions that interpret the changes in society, like the analysis of handwriting, it is the interchange of postcards of cities and of historic and artistic places, "synonymous of a national pride expressing the desire of sharing its rich heritage", the one that captures us the most.3


In the brilliant postal parade appear in the first place the
Città d'arte. One by one, with their sempiternal wonders: Bologna in watercolor. Rome, with a tridimensional Anfiteatro Flavio. A multicolored Venice in its Canal Grande. Rimini and its neoclassical Kursaal. Udine's symmetrical Palazzo del Litorio nestled in its urban hoe, and in Trento's cartolina, the Cortile del Leone is the pride of the Castello del Buon Consiglio. Florencia is portrayed in black and white in the Piazza della Signoria while Milan is shown with a sepia panorama of its Stazione Centrale. the groups closes with a Torino di notte in Piazza San Carlo, with neon lights like the Calle Real de Sabana Grande.


Afterwards comes the 1930s album,
Ricordo di Messina. There, thirty-two incomparable urban views with an ivory background make us ask ourselves what the hell have we done with our lives that we have not yet visited its lungomare... Immediately we are surprised
with a reflection about the Mediterranean landscape. A series of panoramas explains it: in the dream-like panorama of the Riviera dei Fiori, the coastal city of Alassio can be seen from above in an idealized view. In that of Amalfi, the view clings down to the west; in the Riviera delle Palme, in the Liguria, we find a winding "oasis of peace". Is the classic relationship established since inmemorial times with the Mare Nostrum: that of passive contemplation.

Further on -also in time-, another postcard marks the rupture with this distant maritime vision. Is the
cartolina dedicated to the "Furioso sommozzatore" (furious scubadiver). The gentile curator points it out carefully for us in the itinerary. Here the mediterranean coast is photographed up close for the first time: the waves break against a terrace with "furie di onde" (fury of the waves). A group of people, nevertheless, quietly chats next to them. Is the urban appropiation of the waterfront.


In the next series of
cartoline, titled "Estate al mare" ("Summer at the sea"), the beautiful lungomare of Nettuno, has now street, trees, boardwalk, balustrade and beach with umbrellas. Layers that succeed each other until the water's edge. Is the city that has come down to sea level. And, from here on, the Golfo de la Spezia in Portovenere, the Casino Municipal of San Remo, right on the shore, and the modern Marinella of Nervi, built on the rocks. Later, with the rise of public resorts, the beach will become a real industry. And the postcards will register it.


But what is true is that, all over Italia, not only the sea, but the city itself, are rediscovered. The ogival porticoes of Bolzano. The public gardens of Cuneo. The subtly Ottoman wide panorama of the city of Padova, with its blue domes.
Dipinto a mano. But the one that certifies this better is a cartolina, beautiful among all. In black and white. Portrays the Torre del Mangia de Siena and its bell, that outcrops above the bricks and stone fabric until it turns -in the middle of the sky-, into a vane.


We wish we could go on by the florentine interiors of Santa Croce, by the columns of Brindisi, by the fountains of Rome,
by the unknown urban fabric of Lecce, by the bridges of Taranto, Torino and Trento… So much architecture, so many cities, so many stories, tante cartoline! Portami via, anima mia. But we cannot take them all in our pocket.4

But we can surely take with us their invitation to travel, to leave forever toward that idealized Italy,
there, where everything is order and beauty, luxe, calm and voluptuousness.


150 Saluti e baci (Postal - Instituto Italiano de Cultura de Caracas)


miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2011

Secret Lines: Interweaving a New Territory

Ancient sound, Paul Klee, 1925.

"I am an abstract with memories."
Paul Klee.[1]


A (Modern) City within a (Modern) City

If we want to study Caracas modernity, we will always have to begin with Venezuelan architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and his monumental work, the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (1944-70). From within and around this masterwork and its great project of the Integration of the Arts, grow since the mid-century most of the architectural and artistic searches in Venezuela.

A Modern city within a modern city, the Ciudad Universitaria made a strong impact in the Caracas' artistic scene that produced multiple reverberations: other epics, other architectures and other art. Artists began to react to the brilliant modernist campus from their own searches, while orbiting their own paths. Like parallel wefts, they went from architecture to art and vice versa, interweaving in their projects the artistic territories of the university city with those of the real city, sharing their personal experiences of the vanguards.

Besides the pantheon of heroes that built the Ciudad Universitaria, where stand together Villanueva, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Antoine Pevsner, Francisco Narváez, Pascual Navarro, Jean Arp, Oswaldo Vigas, André Bloc, Armando Barrios, Héctor Poleo, Henri Laurens, Carlos González-Bogen, Baltasar Lobo, Víctor Vasarely, and, particularly, Mateo Manaure and Alejandro Otero, stand other fundamental cases that multiplied the interchanges between art and architecture to sensibly transform the city's artistic and architectural realm.

Paul Klee said significantly once: "I am an abstract with memories." Klee, who was a professor at the Bauhaus, without being an architect, conceived landscapes that are capable of "speaking for any city," from the indelible traces of his secular Munich and his native Bern. [2] And we could ask, Who were the abstracts with memories that spoke for modern Caracas, conceiving landscapes from the indelible traces of the city of Villanueva? How did their "secret lines" nourished the spatial experimentation of the Venezuelan modern cities?

Fuori le mura: "The Role of the New Art Must Be Met in the Street"

The first artists who "wanted to reinvent the city from within" in the 1950s, outside of the Caracas university campus, were Alejandro Otero and Mateo Manaure.[3] Between 1944-46, when the plan of the Ciudad Universitaria was being conceived, a group of Venezuelan artists called The Dissidents -led by Otero and including Manaure-, was formed in Paris. They were called by Villanueva to constitute with a prominent set of international artists the team that was to work in the creation of the Ciudad Universitaria's spaces.[4]

Alejandro Otero, while still in Paris, at the end of 1950, was interested in the work of Piet Mondrian. Some years before, he had seen in New York Mondrian's Boogie-Woogies. With this inspiration, he began a series of "free chromatic harmonies," of straight bands on a horizontal-vertical position. The result were his collage Orthogonals, from 1951.

After a short time, Otero began to feel that his compositions were not longer mainly optical: they already contained another dimension that was claiming for more than a two-dimensional medium.[5] News were coming from Caracas that "an architectural movement of great importance and novelty was going on in the city." This led him to return to Venezuela in 1952.

Once there, Otero would work in two key sites. For the José Angel Lamas Amphitheatre (1954). he made "five mosaic and aluminum panels," the Murales, from 1953, and a monumental mosaic Coloritmo, displayed on the stands. (This image is shown here for the first time, as it comes from a recently recovered archive). However, for him, the polychromies were yet his best accomplishments.

Therefore in his next project, the eighteen-story high "Unidad de Habitación" (as for Unité d'Habitation) at El Paraíso (1956), whose architect was also ViIllanueva, he decided to apply a mosaic-colorful polychromy on the facades interwoven with the structural concrete grid.[6]

Yet, another major polychromy experiment was performed in Caracas, closer to the historic center: the 2 de Diciembre popular housing complex (better known as the 23 de Enero). This time Villanueva decides to work with Mateo Manaure, who lined up with Abstract Constructivism. Here is a detail of his Bimural at the Ciudad Universitaria, from 1954/

The huge 2 de Diciembre is "a complete city, planned over large terraces with thirty-eight fifteen-story high superbloques and forty-two four-story high buildings."[7] Here, Manaure applies his search within Abstract Constructivism to the housing units facades, turning them into big abstract murals based in color-plane compositions. With his work, he emphasized the image of the complex as a paradigm of modernity."[8] With the works of Alejandro Otero and Mateo Manaure, the new art began to play a role in the streets of Caracas in accordance with modern architecture.[9]

City With (out) Soto

Villanueva knew and admired Jesús Soto. He once said about him: "Half magician, half geometer, Soto has managed to make surfaces vibrate, and continues conquering countless unknown dimensions with great pleasure."[10] However, "within the great project of the Ciudad Universitaria, Villanueva did not include Soto. Visiting today the university, one can only find a single work of his: Estructura Cinética (Kinetic Structure, from 1957). It is meaningful, though, that it is placed within the School of Architecture."[11]

Soto's absence from the university project in part to political reasons. By 1944-46, when the plan of the Ciudad Universitaria was brewing, Soto was also in Paris, but he did not belong to the group of The Dissidents. He remained as individuality within the same universe, watching from afar the gestation of Caracas' modern process.

In the mean time, he continued his personal quest, wishing "to understand the fourth dimension that Cubism incorporated." He realized "that he had to bring the fourth dimension of time, movement, to painting." It was in 1955 when he "found a way of moving the image." That same year he anticipated his architectural constructions and his Penetrables in the work La Cajita de Villanueva (Villanueva's Box), a homage to the Venezuelan architect.

Soto was dazzled by architectural space: "Architecture is a positive plastic result, where walls disappear in order to give way to light, where space does not end in a wall but continues as a stream of air that passes through it. This idea of an open architecture required a similar art at the same level." These words are almost a description of what was being built simultaneously at the Ciudad Universitaria.

Although Soto might be physically absent from the Ciudad Universitaria's deed, his spirit is there haunting it, and well as it haunts that of Villanueva. For its part, the architect will not delay to pay greatly for this absence in his grand collaboration with Soto of the 1960s: the Venezuelan Pavilion in Montreal's 1967 World Exposition. There Soto hangs from the top of Villanueva's cube a great waterfall of vibrations, a column of light that cascades at the center of the pavilion space.[12]

Soto did many artistic interventions in Caracas. At one end stands the most successful, the Volumen suspendido (Suspended Volume, from 1979), installed inside a Jonhson & Burgee building, the Cubo Negro (Black Cube, from 1975). But there are public works of all kinds, and specially, many projects of a virtual architectural nature. They remain a source of ideas and, above all, a teaching on "how to 'de-materialize' a city to turn it into a field for visual exploration."[13]

Gego, Architect

Since the 1950s, a fourth artist begins to mark with her work the modern art and architecture of Venezuela. This is Gertrud Goldschmidt, better known as Gego. Gego differs from the other artists in that she was an architect. Since her arrival in the country in 1939 from Hamburg, she worked as an architect. But from 1947, Gego turned to in art to seek new ways of building spaces, which nevertheless, never ceased to be architectural.

Gego too was not part of the Ciudad Universitaria's original team of artists. However, like Soto, a beautiful work of hers, El Chorro (The Jet, from 1974), shines within the School of Architecture.[14] This tribute to her work is also very significant.

Thanks to the experience of the Ciudad Universitaria, thre was a growing demand for works of art for public spaces and buildings in Caracas. Gego had many commissions. But her integration projects were different. Her sculptures are installed in other architectures, turning them into their urban context. They are parallel "buildings."

In 1961, for the courtyard of a New York art gallery, she imagines a first structure of parallel lines (Reticulárea Between Buildings I) that climbs up the walls and twists, transforming the space. It's the beginning.

Between 1961-1962 inside a 1950s bank designed by architect Martín Vegas, she builds her first actual installation. In a large and very vertical courtyard flanked by railings and stairs, she proposes a large sculpture, a second "stair" of aluminum, which competes with the architecture itself. [15]

Those were years of fantastic architectures. Gego admires the expressionisms of Félix Candela, Bruce Goff, Erich Mendelsohn and Frei Otto.[16] These architectures will soon begin to resonate in her own production. Thus, in front of a neutral brick building by architects Bornhorst & Neuberger (1965), she builds a great tower, the Torre Cedíaz (from 1967), with parallel lines stretched between two circular rings. Similarly, following a visit to Caracas by Buckminster Fuller in 1960, Gego creates in a shopping center an aerial structure Flechas (Arrows, from 1968), using the Tensigrity System developed by Fuller in that same decade, inspired by spider webs that "float in the hurricanes."[17]

Further on, in 1969, at the base of an office tower by architect Tomás Sanabria, she elaborates a mural playing with the rhythm of the facade brise-soleils.[18] Then, in 1972, she builds the work Cuerdas (Strings) the Parque Central complex by the firm Siso & Shaw. Here even the commission was already architectural. The structure, tense over a reflecting pond, refers to Frei Otto's wire membrane landscapes of double curvature.

From 1969, Gego creates the great Reticulárea project. This fluctuating environmental sculpture is a splendid metaphor of the city: featuring flying Prouns reminiscent of El Lissitzky, neoplastic crosses, Antoni Gaudí's inverse vaults, Naum Gabo's surfaces and twists, canals, ports, inland seas, ships, and all of her previous projects. A fantastic urban utopia, suspended in the air like Frederick Kiesler's City in Space.

Besides her works of integration with architecture, Gego will also develop an important educational work that will leave an indelible mark on all the architects that came out from of the school of architecture in those years. In the academic exercises taught at her workshop, the Taller Gego, the memory of her formal education in pre-war Germany was always present.

The two architecture schools that stood out in the German scene of the time, were the Bauhaus from Dessau and the Stuttgart Technical School. Although the Bauhaus was closed down in 1932,[19] its experience will linger in the imagination of many of its witnesses, as was the case of Gego.[20] Gego, although in 1932 began her studies under the tutelage of Paul Bonatz in the Stuttgart school, she will always evoke it.[21] It was impossible to be immune to the radiance of these avant garde architectures. The Bauhaus influence entered through the eyes of the young woman as soon as she arrived in Stuttgart and could wander by the modern scenery of the Weissenhof.

Therefore, the Gego Workshop of Basic Composition (1959-1966) had as major concern the space generated by forms and their structures. Its main interest was for space as a determinant of form, for three-dimensional structures, for the relationship of modern architecture with structural form and for the dialogue between the living and technical structures. Her activity in the architecture school is intense. The "Taller Gego" renewed through the influence of figures like Serge Chermayeff, Sybil Moholy-Nagy, Siegfried Giedion and Charles Moore.

The workshop results were plastic objects which bring "mental abstractions into real space."[22] Students worked as at the Bauhaus, with constructivist methods of teaching. Once completed, even the most abstract student projects, even stripped of all their data and built in space with only what is strictly necessary, were too similar to buildings. Gego herself photographed the works of her students all together on many occasions, building-up countless fantastic cities within the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas.

New York, October 29, 2011.

"Fantásticas ciudades." Taller Gego, 1961-62 (f. Fundación Gego)


Paper for the conference "Beyond the Supersquare," The Bronx Museum, New York City, October 29, 2011.

ENDNOTES

[1] The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918, edited with an introduction by Felix Klee, University of California Press, (1968).
[2] Klee Cities, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (1999), in: "Sin título," Arquitectura, EL NACIONAL, Caracas, September 13, (1999).
[3] Balza, José, Alejandro Otero, Olivetti, Milano, (1977): 54.
[4] Gómez, Hannia, "Soto, Ciudad y Arquitectura," in: Soto a gran escala, catalogue of the exhibition Soto a gran escala, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber (MACCSI), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume / MACCSI, Caracas, (2003).
[5] Balza, J., Ibid, (1977): 46.
[6] "Unidad Residencial el Paraíso," Fundación de la Memoria Urbana/Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural, in: Preinventario Arquitectónico, Urbanístico y Ambiental de Caracas 2005-2006, Caracas, (2007).
[7] "Urbanización 23 de Enero," Fundación de la Memoria Urbana/Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural, in: Preinventario Arquitectónico, Urbanístico y Ambiental de Caracas 2005-2006, Caracas, (2007).
[8] Gómez, H. "Imposing, Transposing, Erasing: the Making of a "Revolutionary" Caracas (1998-2010)," conference Transnational Latin Americanisms, Liminal Places, Cultures and Power (T)here, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia Univsersity, New York, (2010).
[9] Balza, J., Idem, (1977): 54.
[10] Quoted in: Imber, Sofia, "Jesús Soto," catalogue of the exhibition Nueve Artistas Venezolanos.
[11] Gómez, H., "Soto, Ciudad y Arquitectura," in: catalogue of the exhibition Soto a gran escala, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber MACCSI, Caracas, (2003).
[12] Villanueva, Paulina and De Sola, Ricardo, Crónica Tres Cubos en Montreal, Caracas.
[13] Guevara, Roberto, Arte para una nueva escala, Maraven S.A., Litografia Tecnocolor, Caracas, (1978): 30.
[14] El Chorro, (1974), http://www.fau.ucv.ve/obras_arte/arte.htm
[15] Hanni Osott, Sistemas estructurales: Líneas paralelas, Gego, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber MACCSI, exhibition catalogue, Caracas, (1977) : 24.
[16] Ulrich Conrads and Hans G. Sperlich, The Architecture of Fantasy: Utopian Building and Planning in Modern Times, First English ed. Translated, edited and expanded by Christiane Crasemann Collins and George R. Collins, Praeger, New York, (1962).
[17] Buckminster Fuller & Robert Marks, The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller, ‘Tensegrity’, Anchor Books, Nueva York, (1973) : 57-58.
[18] Galería de Arte Nacional, catalogue of the exhibition Tomás José Sanabria Arquitecto, GAN, Caracas, (1995) : 127.
[19] Frampton, Kenneth, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, "The Bauhaus: the evolution o fan idea 1919-32," Oxford University Press, New York, (1980), : 124.
[20] Iris Peruga, “Gego, el prodigioso juego de crear,” in: Gego 1955-1990, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, (2001): 24. [21] Manrique, Josefina, Sabiduras y otros textos de Gego, Op. Cit., : 191 and 229.
[22] In: Gego 1955-1990…, Op. Cit.,: 31.

sábado, 1 de octubre de 2011

El llano

Edificio Valderrey, urbanización San Bernardino (f. Archivo Fundación de la Memoria Urbana)


Lateralmente a una pequeña plaza, al seguir la curvatura del Rione Carità, y pasada Via Roma, se encuentra IlPunto, la exquisita librería de arquitectura de Nápoles. Haciendo honor a su nombre, ésta no pasa de ser, paradójicamente a lo que podría esperarse en una ciudad donde los haberes urbanos y arquitectónicos dan para llenar una enciclopedia completa, una diminuta habitación donde los libros se amontonan hasta el techo.

La pequeñez insólita del lugar fuerza a que novedades y antigüedades se confundan en un mismo y delicioso apretujamiento. Por arte de magia, bórranse fechas y desmerécese el lujo de las ediciones. Toda publicación compite en igualdad de condiciones, y es tan apetitosa una destartalada guía de la arquitectura moderna napolitana como la flamante edición del día de ayer de la revista DOMUS; lucen tan imprescindibles las polvorientas obras completas del olvidado Pallazzeschi (poeta futurista de nombre incomparable) como las obras completas del últimamente (2001) muy publicitado Renzo Piano, autor de la primera Maison de Verre que ha dado el nuevo siglo, la casa Hermés de Ginza, en Tokyo.

Es el Rione Carità, de por sí un sitio que se presta muy copiosamente a las mágicas difuminaciones de la conciencia, sobre todo de la conciencia espacial. Basta cerrar por un momento los ojos y moverse por cualquiera de las calles de la renovación urbana que transformó esta parte del centro histórico durante los años treinta, para que, no bien vueltos los ojos a abrir, se sienta uno transportado, a, por ejemplo, Los Chaguaramos, Caracas. Edificios como los de Ferdinando Chiaramonti en Via Cesare Battisti, 15, o en Via Diaz, 24, con su "extraña esquizofrenia arquitectónica" y "fragmentariedad" -nadie como los italianos para inventar palabras que describan la naturaleza arquitectónica- logran el aplastante milagro del viaje de vuelta. Y tan fuerte es su efecto, que de inmediato hace que salte con renovado vigor del anaquel donde descansaba hasta entonces en la pequeña librería, la mencionada Guía de Arquitectura Moderna de Nápoles, guía que podría que podría servirle a quien la supiese leer de tónico para el alma y de manual-bastión para calificar con mayor justicia a las arquitecturas modernas caraqueñas, que por virtud de tan simple analogía urbana, pueden ser ahora elevadas al rango "d'oltremare," y convertirse en prestigiosas modernidades de ultramar.

Los edificios seleccionados como monumentos por L˙Università degli studi di Nápoli, son apenas mejores (salvo en el caso egregio del Pallazzo delle Poste, Piazza Matteoti) cuando no igualmente buenos que muchos de los edificios de los años cuarenta y cincuenta que produjo aquí nuestra mal llamada arquitectura "menor." Que fue tildada de menor porque no está compuesta por grandes obras maestras, sino por magistrales pasajes sueltos; porque está ausente de toda preocupación dogmática; porque no fue hecha por prime donne ni por héroes, dramas y protagonismos, y porque está fabricada con base en aislados actos individuales de poesía que, como dijera Bruno Zevi una vez (en otro pequeño e interesante librito, Dialectos arquitectónicos, también ofrecido por IlPunto): "a pesar de la anonimidad de sus autores, contienen una intensidad irrepetible de mensajes, trasmutan en dialecto las reglas de los códices dominantes, restituyen en versiones inéditas los signos que no eran suyos y construyen la fisionomía más auténtica de los tejidos urbanos."

También Benedetto Croce estuvo tan preocupado como nosotros aquí hoy (2001) dirimiendo las calidades no inventariadas de las arquitecturas de la ciudad, "intentando distinguir a la poesía popular de la artística." Para ello logró argumentar un análisis genial. Decía que durante el Medioevo (la larga era del tono popular) "Dante, Petrarca y Bocaccio eran como tres cimas de montañas con algún pequeño cerro interpuesto o vecino, a los pies de los cuales se extendía un llano fertilísimo, herboso, todo cubierto de arbustos y de humildes mirtos." Pues bien, es a este extenso llano, ameno y consolador, el lugar donde los hombres acudían cuando "las tres montañas se hacían demasiado sublimes." Desdeñar sus productos, por rudos o bárbaros, es, pues, impensable.

Zevi, inteligentemente, agrega que del paisaje natural evocado por Croce es muy fácil transferirse al paisaje urbano: basta pensar en Florencia, donde Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto y Brunelleschi representan cumbres elevadas, en diálogo esporádico, a menudo polémico y conflictivo, con las colinas y las llanuras circundantes, es decir, con los artistas "de tono menor." En Caracas, las luminarias de los años cincuenta son también figuras "encumbradas," y poco o nada hemos intentado para merodear por las llanuras, las sabanas y los prados del valle, en busca de otros consuelos.

Habrá, pues, que cuidarse lo más posible de las preferencias por la prosa arcaica de la ciudad, hecha sólo de sus capítulos más inefables. Habrá que aprender a hablar los dialectos de las arquitecturas locales, e internarse en "el birignao de las condesas, en el dialecto de los spazzini, en la lengua sículo-partenopea-comisarial de los funcionarios, en el portugués, en el francés, en los castellanos, en todas las voces del italiano." Y puede que de este coro filológico-lírico-narrativo-ensayístico-onomatopéyico, salga la nueva épica de la novela urbana que aún ¡todavía! Estamos por contar, desde el Rione Carità a la Avenida Victoria, desde Bello Monte hasta Monte Bello, desde el Centro Histórico de Nápoles hasta el de Caracas.

"Napoli - Nuevo Rione della Carità", 1940 (Postal - Archivo Fundación de la memoria Urbana)

Publicado en: Arquitectura, EL NACIONAL, Caracas, Lunes 26 de noviembre de de 2001

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