The Architecture of Modern Italy: Volume 2, Visions of Utopia, 1900-present, by Terry Kirk (Volume 1 here)
Princeton Architectural Press, 2005
Hardcover, 280 pages
The second volume of Terry Kirk's history of architecture in modern Italy picks up where volume one left off, at the turn of the 20th century, when architecture was seen as an expression of the recently unified country. Politics plays a much greater role in this time frame, especially during Mussolini's reign between the two World Wars. Like many other European country, a dramatic break with history is the popular past of the time, Italy's called Rationalism and embodied by its most popular proponent, Guiseppe Terragni. While the author doesn't devote many pages to the architect, his presence is visible in both his contemporaries and followers. But Kirk stresses that Terragni was an exception to the overriding tendency of the time, which was characterized by a pull both forward and back. In other words, mid-century Italian architects didn't want to completely obliterate their past, but at the same time they didn't want to repeat it. While Italy never recaptured its ancient influence that spread far beyond its shores -- nor a clear national identity in architectural form -- its late 20th-century personalities -- such as Aldo Rossi, Mario Botta, and Renzo Piano -- are indicative of a cultural climate accepting and nurturing of pluralistic voices that eventually do spread Italian culture via their work in other countries.