Eric Parry’s sketch of his design for the first gallery, which features fragments of Roman ruins against a blue sky.
Is the long-awaited Royal Academy’s Palladio exhibition a missed opportunity? Emily Cadman rounds up the critics views.
Tom Dycoff takes the curators to task, for producing “peculiarly dry, dusty exhibition” which treats Palladio’s architecture in an economic and political vacuum.
He comments: “There's no context, no explanation, no willingness to talk to anyone who, perhaps, isn't an expert in 16th-century aesthetics.”
Whilst more sympathetic, Stephen Bayley argues that the exhibition is a missed opportunity and fails to bring the realities of Palladio architecture to life, or showcase his sense of time and place.
“Essentially, this is a scholarly collection of drawings. Nothing wrong with that, but an interpretive, creative opportunity has been missed,” he writes.
Edwin Heathcote verdict on the show is simple: “serious, scholarly and superb.”
He adds: “It is, perhaps, a little uncritical: Palladio's theatricality occasionally led to a superficial architecture in which the house is reduced to a stage-set folly, a showpiece. But there is such depth here - a profile of an infinitely inventive magpie mind that could assimilate studies of Roman military formations into a villa plan or conjure ingenious everyday dwellings as easily as imagine an absurdly overblown mountain of classical detail - that you can forgive almost anything.”
Rowan Moore is fulsome in his praise, calling it “as serious and intelligent a survey of Palladio’s work as you could wish for.”
“It is refreshingly free of interpretative gimmicks, although a few more photographs and films, for those who don’t know the buildings, would not have hurt. Non-specialist visitors will want to glide over some of the more technical drawings but they should still go. Outside the Veneto there will never be a better chance to understand the work of someone who, despite reservations, was a great architect,” he adds.
Ellis Woodman is particularly impressed with the exhibition’s inclusion of a series of very large scale timber models of all the key buildings.
“En masse, they take on the appearance of a visionary city, an impression that finds an echo in the final exhibit: a painting by Canaletto which unites a number of the architect’s designs, built and unbuilt, in a single scene. Stepping outside, is to discover a London that is nothing short of transfigured, the debt that it owes to the imagination of this extraordinary architect hanging heavy in the air”, he says.
'Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy' runs from January 31 to April 13 www.royalacademy.org.uk
For more background on Palladio visit RIBA's Palladio and Britain microsite www.architecture.com/palladio
11 February 2009
30 January 2009
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14 November 2008
29 August 2008