Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Mario Botta, MARIO BOTTA: ARCHITECTURE AND MEMORY: What a great birthday celebration: an exhibit preview and dinner with the artist … I loved learning about an artist I knew very little about … who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! … I have been searching the internet for several quotes by Mario Botta that were included in the exhibit and I can’t find them … I must go back. But this one is close:
The first gesture of an architect is to draw a perimeter; in other words, to separate the microclimate from the macro space outside. This in itself is a sacred act. Architecture in itself conveys this idea of limiting space. It’s a limit between the finite and the infinite. From this point of view, all architecture is sacred.
– Mario Botta
MARIO BOTTA: ARCHITECTURE AND MEMORY
Location: Fourth-floor gallery
On View: January 31, 2014 – July 25, 2014
Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory is an exhibition spanning the 50-year career of internationally acclaimed architect Mario Botta, the designer of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art building and one of the century’s most fundamental contributors to postmodern architecture. Featured are sketches, architectural models and photographs exemplifying Botta’s use of geometric shapes that juxtapose lightness and weight. The exhibition runs January 31, 2014 through July 25, 2014.
ARTchitecture, the 2014 gala, will highlight the upcoming exhibition Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory, which opens January 31, 2014. The exhibition will span the 50-year career of internationally acclaimed architect Mario Botta, the designer of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art building and one of the century’s most fundamental contributors to postmodern architecture.
Wood model of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art,Charlotte (on right), Leeum Samsung Museum of Art , Seoul, (on left), part of the Mario Botta exhibition at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art,the exhibit opens to the public on Jan. 31,2014.
sacred spaces: Many of his works at the new exhibit were sacred spaces. Unique juxtapositions …
In contrast to the wide-ranging lecture, the exhibition, The Architecture of the Sacred: Prayers in Stone, focuses on a specific building type — places of worship. The pared-down, articulate display features black-and-white photographs of 12 “sacred spaces” (11 churches and a synagogue). These are juxtaposed with collages of sketches on tracing paper which are mounted, overlapping like ideas, beneath Perspex.
The inclusion of actual design development sketches somewhat tentatively alongside bold photography of the completed buildings is a clever touch that brings into the exhibition space a sense of the alchemy of the design process. Minimal texts and simple plans encourage close scrutiny and comparative analysis of typologies and scales, while the black-and-white pictures stress the strong forms and the texture and materiality of the buildings.
The photography also emphasises the location of these buildings within their landscapes, especially those in Botta’s native Switzerland, such as the perilously perched chapel for a ski resort at Mount Tamaro (1996) and the cylindrical church of St Giovanni Battista (1998), with its distinctive elliptical roof created by slicing off the top of the volume an at angle. Both small churches seem to echo their spiritual function far and wide across big landscapes.
A series of 1:50 scale sectional models, all executed in wood and elevated on tall plinths constructed from “strata” of the same timber, communicates a sense of the continuation of earth into architecture that is clearly a preoccupation of the architect.
Botta’s buildings are characterised by their unashamedly simple, vaguely familiar forms. Pinning down precise visual references can prove difficult. For example, I am unsure whether the parish church of Beato Odorico da Pordenone in Italy (1992), with its off-kilter conical roof set within a strongly gridded, formal colonnade, evokes memories of a lost Mayan kingdom, a sinking Egyptian pyramid, or perhaps something closer to home such as an oast house in Kent.
The church buildings are both precise in their cultural and historical references and simple — and therefore universal — in their gestures. Perhaps it is this particular combination that has allowed for the export of Botta’s architecture, despite the fact that, in theory, the vernacular references should mean this isn’t an architectural language that will travel well.
Botta rejects the idea that he works with pre-conceived forms, arguing that his buildings are generated by a thorough working-through of programmatic considerations in sections, plans and models long before they are ever conceived of as “images”. Perhaps another reason why Botta’s apparently culturally specific architecture is ultimately transportable is that his architecture is rooted in tectonic values. These are definitely not buildings in contortion, and there is no sense of the uncomfortable striving that comes from stretching “new” materials beyond their capacities in the search for form.
Non-church projects covered in Botta’s talk ranged from a small winery in Tuscany to the remodelling of La Scala, Milan’s opera house (2004), as well as vast office buildings in Hydrabad and New Delhi (both 2003), several museums and galleries and one or two oddities such as his “Noah’s Ark” structure for a sculpture play garden in Jerusalem Zoo. With the possible exception of the terracotta-coloured Kyobo Tower in Seoul, South Korea (2003), which dwarfs the sprawling, low-rise city of grey concrete, none of these buildings seem particularly out of place.
2.Stone, Light, Mountains: Mario Botta’s Churches In Ticino, Switzerland
Anat Geva Texas A&M University email@example.com
“The chapel is a stone nail in the mountain. It was born of the need of man to possess the mountain” (Botta in Dupre 2001: 12)1