Italy marks architect Palladio's 500th birthday

Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:08am EDT
 
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By Barbara Cornell

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Five hundred years since the birth of Andrea Palladio, a new international exhibition opens Saturday in Italy with a sweeping portrait of the skilled stonemason who became one of the world's greatest architects.

The exhibition at Vicenza's Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, itself a Palladio building, draws from more than 80 museums and libraries throughout Europe. It includes 78 original Palladio drawings, some owned by the 17th-century English architect Inigo Jones and now housed in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The show was organized by the Andrea Palladio International Centre for Architectural Studies, RIBA and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where the exhibition will move after it ends here on January 6.

Larger in scope than its predecessors, with some displays never seen by the public, it is the first large-scale Palladio exhibition in nearly 30 years.

"It's a generation ago, so many people have not had the opportunity to see a big exhibition of Palladio or to see a large number of his drawings," said co-curator Howard Burns, chairman of the Palladio centre's academic committee.

"It's a great occasion to meet him again."

Palladio's logic, harmony and motifs inspired generations of architects, from Jones, who helped establish Renaissance architecture in England, to Le Corbusier and Philip Johnson. He influenced Georgian style in England, French Neoclassicism and American Neoclassical works like the White House.

About 40 of Palladio's buildings, inspired by ancient Rome, still exist. Many are in and around his hometown, Vicenza, about 60 km (40 miles) west of Venice.   Continued...