Past Event

Collins/Kaufmann Forum: Pippo Ciorra, "Being Bruno Zevi"

October 31, 2018
6:15 PM - 7:45 PM
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934 Schermerhorn Hall
"Being Bruno Zevi"

Bruno Zevi is one of the key figures both to investigate some of the essential features of architecture in critical decades of the twentieth century and to track back the reasons and clues for a full understanding of the contemporary conditions of our discipline. The exhibition Jean-Louis Cohen and I just curated in Rome had both these tasks. On the one hand, we looked into Zevi’s agency as a historian and critic, in order to disclose a wide set of figures who can complete a picture of postwar Italian architecture, which was so far heavily and incompletely tailored by a retroactive ideological frame designed mainly by Manfredo Tafuri. On the other hand, we shadowed Zevi’s restless life and work to trace the roots of the complicated relations between design, history, (geo)politics, communication, art, and even religion that weigh on the present, fragile identity of architecture. The lecture will mainly focus on this second aspect, trying to highlight the parts of Zevi’s biography that most help us to understand the present intricacies of architecture culture. We'll follow his traces as a smooth operator in the world of historiography, which he transformed into a battlefield for his idea of modernity. We’ll look into the birth of a new idea of the architecture critic, as an active agent in the architecture confrontation. We’ll discuss his contribution as a political “agent” nearly literally, counting on architecture as a device to propagate democracy. We’ll see how Zevi has an influence on basically every means of architecture communication before the digital: publishing, lobbying, editing, exhibiting, and broadcasting on mass media, all topics that are very much under discussion today. Finally, we’ll emphasize his legacy as a typical European public intellectual of the twentieth century, tirelessly devoted to taking sides and searching for confrontation, cultural battles, and dialectical oppositions.