Events and initiatives
Events and initiatives

Cesare Leonardi. L’Architettura della Vita | The Architecture of Life

This is the first comprehensive retrospective dedicated to Cesare Leonardi (b. Modena, 1935), an eclectic and original figure in the architectural and contemporary arts world. Over the course of a career spanning more than fifty years, Leonardi’s pratice has included architecture, town planning, photography, design, painting and sculpture, working non-stop on the boundary between artistic planning and practice. The exhibition presents a wide range of works and documents, preserved in Leonardi’s home-cum-studio - currently the venue of the Archivio Leonardi - and tells the extraordinary story of a life dedicated to planning and design. The exhibition itinerary is enhanced by a video documentary on the work of Cesare Leonardi, produced by Panottica.

Cesare Leonardi graduated in architecture in 1970 in Florence, where he followed the courses of Adalberto Libera, Ludovico Quaroni and Leonardo Savioli. In 1963, however, he had already opened a studio in Modena with Franca Stagi which came to the fore in the production of design objects in fibreglass. The Nastro (Ribbon) Chair, the Dondolo Rocking Chair, the Eco Chair and many other furnishings, iconic pieces widely featured in design magazines and books, have been displayed in some of the most important museums in the world: MoMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London the Vitra Design Museum of Weil am Rhein.

From the 1970s, the studio also began to deal with architecture and public parks. The proposal formulated for Parco della Resistenza in Modena (1970) was based on an in-depth study of trees: a photographic survey of over 300 tree species, redrawn in a scale of 1:100. These were later gathered together, after twenty years of work, in the volume L’Architettura degli Alberi (by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi, Mazzotta 1982), which remains to this day an unsurpassed tool for the design of green areas. Further more other outstanding projects were developed, such as the Swimming Centre of Vignola (1975), the Swimming Centre of Mirandola (1977-1980), the restoration of the Collegio San Carlo (1977) and Parco Amendola (1981).

In 1983, Leonardi began an independent activity in which the research and the experimentation are largely oriented towards the definition of a ‘system’. The Solidi and the Acentric Reticular Structure (SRA) show that this approach can be used not only on furnishing objects but also on green areas and territory planning. The Solidi are the result of personal craft-based production, that Leonardi self-initiated without having a commissioner. They are designed using a single material – painted yellow fir wood, 27 mm thick (usually used as formwork for concrete) – and of a single format: a board 50 centimetres wide and 150 cm long (or multiples and submultiples thereof: 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 cm etc.), outlined and cut out, without any waste of material. This apparent limitation gives rise to countless possibilities, to the point that there are hundreds of prototypes (chairs, armchairs, stools, tables, wardrobes and sofas). At the same time, the applications of the SRA show the flexibility of a polygonal modular mesh, capable of adapting itself to the context and welcoming change, creating an environment in which people and trees live in harmony, as shown by the Città degli Alberi in Bosco Albergati, Castelfranco Emilia (1990).

His passion for photography dates back to his childhood, and was to accompany him throughout his work to document, investigate and discover. He photographed trees across the season, the shadows cast on the ground and on buildings, cities, historical architecture, sculptures, architectural models, design objects and everyday life.

Since 2000, once he concluded his professional career, he has dedicated himself to photography, sculpture and painting.

The exhibition recounts the transversal and interdisciplinary nature of his research. It is not an architectural show in the strict sense, but one based on a broader notion of planning: Leonardi’s work is a kinetic system passing from one field to another seamlessly.

The Ribbon Chair and his Solidi, elements which when placed side by side appear antithetic, almost as if they were the work of different designers, are actually the starting point and the outcome of a path – from the perfect object to the crafts system – which developed gradually and coherently. A path forged against the grain of conventional wisdom.

From Sep 15, 2017
To Feb 18, 2018
Palazzo Santa Margherita, corso Canalgrande 103; Palazzina dei Giardini, corso Canalgrande
Modena (MO)

from Wednesday to Friday 10.30am – 1pm; 3-7pm ; Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, 10.30am – 7pm; closed on Mondays and Tuesday.

Cost free entrance
For details
Phone: +39 059 2032911/2032940
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