The legendary architect, born in Venice on 2 June 1906 and who died in Japan in 1978, lives on in Verona in the form of its most important museums, the Museo Civico di Castelvecchio, the restoration and design of which are among Scarpa’s greatest masterpieces.
Castelvecchio: a work of art inside and out
We can say that the architecture which we might define as poetry should be called harmony, like the face of a beautiful woman. There are shapes which express something. Architecture is a very difficult language to understand, it is mysterious, unlike other arts, particularly music, which are easier to understand. The value of a work lies in its expression: when something is expressed well, its value becomes much greater. (Carlo Scarpa, 1976)
Scarpa worked on the restoration of this building from the 1950s to the 1970s and, as with similar projects of his, he sought to redefine the internal spaces, taking a shared approach, weaving together the restoration of the building and its architecture with the work of laying it out as a museum. The Venetian master’s skill was to integrate into the existing structure new routes and innovative uses of space, creating a composition in which the old and the new enhance each other.
An artistic life
Carlo Scarpa, like all of the greatest architects in history, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, never officially qualified as an architect. He graduated from the Venice Academy of Venice Arts and devoted his life to the arts, first as the creative director of the Venini glassworks and then as a curator of museums and exhibitions. The restoration of existing buildings, particularly delivering new projects in ancient contexts, and the curation of exhibitions and museums, are the main feature of Scarpa’s works, best embodied right here with the great museum of Verona. His projects were always based on a visual consideration, always taking a sketch as the starting point, in line with his artistic training.
Which of Scarpa’s works can you visit in Veneto?
Many of Scarpa’s works can be seen in the Veneto region. If you want to learn more about this great Italian architect whilst in Verona, as well as the incredible Castelvecchio museum take a look at the head offices of the BPM bank, formerly the headquarters of the Banca Popolare di Verona, whose logo he designed. Other not-to-be-missed buildings include the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, which he renovated in the 1950s, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, the Correr museum and the historic Olivetti shop in Piazza San Marco. Near Treviso, the Gipsoteca Canoviana di Possagno and the Tomba Brion, a cemetery in San Vito d’Altivole, are well worth a visit.
I am not interested in the mediocre, we all know the beautiful, let us seek the sublime. (Carlo Scarpa)
It is impossible not to be moved by the genius of people such as Carlo Scarpa, unique characters who have enriched our history and our land with beauty and perfection.