Triennale Milano presents Angelo Mangiarotti When Structures Take Shape


Triennale Milano pays tribute to the Milanese architect and designer Angelo Mangiarotti (1921-2012) with an exhibition entitled Angelo Mangiarotti: When Structures Take Shape. The event runs from January 27 to April 23, 2023 and is curated by Fulvio Irace, with Francesca Albani, Franz Graf (Architecture section), Luca Pietro Nicoletti (Sculpture section), and Marco Sammicheli (Design section), with the support of Giulio Barazzetta.

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Angelo Mangiarotti Foundation, which has made the treasures in its archive available for display. The installation design is by Ottavio Di Blasi & Partners, with the participation of Renzo Piano.

Angelo Mangiarotti. When Structures Become Form is one of the most complete and comprehensive retrospectives ever devoted to the Milanese architect. It retraces his over 60-year career with a wide selection of works, projects, documents and materials, many of which have never been exhibited before.

Stefano Boeri, president of Triennale Milano, explains that “For many years, Triennale Milano has been working on a project devoted to the great Italian masters of design, from Enzo Mari to Ettore Sottsass, to Achille Castiglioni and Pietro Lingeri. The latest is now Angelo Mangiarotti, an eclectic international personality who over the years carried out superb experiments in the fields of architecture, design, sculpture and infrastructure planning. The retrospective we are now putting on once again gives this key figure in the world of twentieth-century design his rightful place in history. We are particularly grateful to Renzo Piano for his participation in this important project – he himself studied under Mangiarotti and worked with him on the 14th International Exhibition in 1968, right here at Triennale.”

Marco Sammicheli, director of the Museo del Design Italiano of Triennale Milano, says: “Angelo Mangiarotti is a key figure in Italian design and architecture. Some of his designs – including the 4D piece (UniFor EMME3 /Molteni&C, 1966), the IN 301 armchair (Zanotta, 1969), and the Giogali chandelier (Vistosi, 1967) – are part of the permanent collection of the Triennale. This exhibition is a further step on a journey that began in October 2021, when a study day was organised on the centenary of Mangiarotti’s birth. The aim was to promote his work also with regard to the influence he exerted in Japan, the United States and in Europe.”

For Fulvio Irace, the curator of the show, “the exhibition at Triennale is the first opportunity we have had to reveal the great master’s truly complex nature. This has long been ignored in favour of his reputation as a builder who focused on the processes of material culture and on the techniques of prefabrication. While it is true that Mangiarotti reinvented the eternal archetype of the post and lintel, so to speak, using it throughout his career in an astonishing range of variations, it is equally true that – as the exhibition points out – his work contains a creative vein of great plastic and sculptural power, which places it in the domain of art as well as in that of architecture and design.”

Renzo Piano, who met Mangiarotti while at the Politecnico University of Milan and during work on the 14th Triennale (1968), has assisted in setting up this exhibition, as a way of paying homage to Mangiarotti’s precise way of interpreting the theme of space, which was one of the hallmarks of his work. The installation design created by Ottavio Di Blasi & Partners consists of a series of platforms that reflect the core themes of the exhibition – from node to joint, sculpture to assembly, abstraction to sensuality. Each table displays a series of study models, prototypes, completed works and fragments of work, showing the visitor the wealth and range of Mangiarotti’s experimentation and the workshop-like atmosphere of his studio.

The exhibition focuses on the way Mangiarotti approached each design problem as part of a much broader whole, in which experimentation, the characteristics of the material and its static functions went far beyond the laws of structure, involving experiments with materials such as concrete, marble and glass.

In the exhibition, the viewer is surrounded by huge prints of photographs showing the various details of his designs, both interior and exterior, taking the visitor on a journey that beautifully renders the atmosphere of his projects and of the period.

A catalogue, edited by Fulvio Irace and published by Electa (in English and Italian), accompanies and completes the exhibition, with a series of articles by critics and experts, including essays by Francesca Albani, Giulio Barazzetta, François Burkhardt, Franz Graf, Luca Pietro Nicoletti, and Marco Sammicheli. Specific themes are examined by Luisa Boccheitto, Tullia Iori, Beppe Finessi, Motomi Kawakami, Valentina Marchetti, Marco Ragone, and Toshihiko Suzuki, and there are personal testimonials by Enrico Bona, Martino Gamper, Renzo Piano, Alberto Vintani and a photographic reportage by Filippo Romano.

Triennale Milano is organising a series of tours for the public during the period of the exhibition, to explore the most important projects created by Angelo Mangiarotti during his career in the city of Milan.

While the exhibition is on at Triennale, the Politecnico University of Milan is also hosting an exhibition on the Milanese architect and designer: Angelo Mangiarotti e la cultura politecnica, which will run from March 28 to May 30, 2023.

The exhibition has been possible by the Institutional Partners Lavazza Group and Salone del Mobile.Milano, the Technical Partner ATM and the Technical Sponsors UniFor e Vetreria Vistosi.


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