Enfilade

Exhibition | Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 29, 2016

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From the Palladio Museum:

Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World / Come costruire un mondo nuovo
Palladio Museum, Vicenza, 23 September 2015 — 28 March 2016

Curated by Guido Beltramini and Fulvio Lenzo

Visitors are introduced to the exhibition by a mirror reflecting the busts of Palladio and Thomas Jefferson. This raises the initial question in the show: how are forms and ideas ‘reflected’? Why, in this case, was an architect from a province in Northern Italy adopted as a model for the construction of the architecture of the New World?

Thomas Jefferson, Plan of the Rotunda of the University of Virginia (Charlottesville: Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville)

Thomas Jefferson, Plan of the Rotunda of the University of Virginia (Charlottesville: Special Collections, University of Virginia Library)

The answer is linked to another fundamental question: what is Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence and was the third president of the United States, doing in a museum of architecture? The reason is that he more than any other American shaped the face of the new nation through art, architecture and regional planning. Visionary but also pragmatic, he was both a man of action and an intellectual who knew Latin and Greek. And he was convinced that the New World could only be built through reason and beauty.

Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World is the first-ever exhibition dedicated to the great American Palladian in Europe. It will enable visitors to explore Jefferson’s world, his art collections, architectural designs, dreams, and also his contradictions, through drawings, sculptures, precious books, architectural models, films and multimedia. The exhibition also features 36 photographs by Filippo Romano, the result of a photographic survey specifically conducted in Virginia in Spring 2014. There are also three precious original bozzetti (models) by Antonio Canova for a statue of George Washington, commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Visitors can enhance their experience of the exhibition by downloading a free smartphone app with descriptions by the curators and so move through the rooms accompanied by their words.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Mario Valmarana, the still greatly cherished professor at the University of Virginia who devoted his life to creating bridges between Palladio’s Veneto and Jefferson’s Virginia. Sponsored by Roberto Coin, the exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of the Regione del Veneto, the Fondazione Cariverona and Dainese, and is the result of collaboration with the Fondazione Canova di Possagno and the Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, Einsiedeln, Switzerland. The exhibition is also part of a joint project developed with the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, which in October 2014 staged the photographic exhibition Found in Translation: Palladio-Jefferson, A narrative by Filippo Romano.

The exhibition has been curated by Guido Beltramini and Fulvio Lenzo, with the support of an Advisory Committee, chaired by Howard Burns (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), and composed of James Ackerman (Harvard University), Bruce Boucher (University of Virginia), Travis C. McDonald (Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest), Damiana Paternò (IUAV, Venice), Mario Piana (IUAV, Venice), and Craig Reynolds (University of Virginia). The catalogue (available in English or Italian) is published by Officina Libraria. The exhibition layout has been designed by Alessandro Scandurra.

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The catalogue is available from Artbooks.com:

Guido Beltramini and Fulvio Lenzo, eds., Jefferson and Palladio: Constructing a New World (Milan: Officina Libraria, 2016), 176 pages, ISBN: 9788897737780, $30.

513TZbh30RL._SY373_BO1,204,203,200_The catalogue offers an opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of Jefferson’s architecture and, at the same time, leads to a clearer understanding of Palladio himself. Jefferson looked to Palladio because he was the architect of one of Europe’s few republics in which administrative power was in the hands of landed gentlemen who avoided the ostentation of princely manners and spent long periods of time in the countryside.

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), a cosmopolitan figure with rural roots, was a master of the knowledge of his time. He drafted The Declaration of Independence (1776), and thus founded a new view of the proper relation between governed and government. Jefferson was the architect of the new America, not just in a political sense, but in a literal sense as well. Architecture had an important place in his personal and public agenda. A self-taught architect, Jefferson buildings are among America’s most famous: Monticello, the Virginia State Capitol, and the University of Virginia are the starting points of American classical architecture. Jefferson was guided by his admiration for Palladio’s Four Books on Architecture, which provided him with key architectural forms and ideas. Palladio showed him how the admired building types of the ancient Romans could be adapted to modern purposes and provide a rational, harmonious framework for living and for building a new society.

Guido Beltramini is Director of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza. Fulvio Lenzo is Associate Professor in the history of architecture at the Universita IUAV di Venezia, Venice.

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C O N T E N T S

Palladio in America, James Ackerman
Jefferson and Palladio, Guido Beltramini
Jefferson: Architecture and Democracy, Fulvio Lenzo
Photographing Jefferson, Filippo Romano
Palladianism in America Before Jefferson, Bruce Boucher
The National Survey Grid and the American Democracy, Catherine Maumi
Jefferson’s Creation of American Classical Architecture, Richard Guy Wilson
Jefferson and the First Public Statues in the United States, Giovanna Capitelli
Canova and the Monument to George Washington, Mario Guderzo
Palladio: Materials and Building Techniques Damiana, Lucia Paterno
Jefferson Builder, Travis McDonald

Enrtries for Monticello, Virginia State Capitol, President’s House, Poplar Forest, Bremo, Barboursville, University of Virginia

Bibliography
Exhibition Checklist

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