September 19, 2008 / 2:09 PM / 9 years ago

Italy marks architect Palladio's 500th birthday

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.

His practical modular designs, codified in his groundbreaking, much-translated work, “The Four Books,” saved both time and money, allowing Palladio to adapt to the personalities and purses of his clients.

The exhibition traces his life, explores his workshop and writings and examines his influence on the future.

More than 40 paintings, including works by Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto, introduce the influential friends and patrons who helped transform him from stonecutter to superstar.

Through drawings, three-dimensional models, computer displays, even original building materials, the show provides a 360-degree view of his genius.

“This is a Palladio that even (the curators) hadn’t seen before we worked on this exhibit,” said Burns. “It’s a different Palladio. It’s a new Palladio, and I think it’s a truer Palladio.”

The exhibit's website is www.palladio500anni.it .

Edited by Paul Casciato

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