press release

Aldo Rossi
The Architect and the Cities
March 9–October 17, 2021

"Imagination and fantasy can only blossom from the knowledge of the real"
Aldo Rossi, extract of the Quaderni Azzurri, 1969

"A poet lent to architecture"
Ada Lousie Huxtable, member of the jury panel of the Pritzker Prize 1990

A multifaceted, unprecedented, visionary genius. A lover of books, travels, movies and the theatre. Highly cultivated and moved by his out-of-the-ordinary poetic sensitivity. A great innovator and a firm believer in the ethical and cultural role played by architecture in the world.

Following the monographic exhibition dedicated to Gio Ponti in 2019, MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts is now celebrating another worldwide acclaimed Italian architect, Aldo Rossi, whose rich and diverse archive laid down the basis of the MAXXI Architettura Collection, directed by Margherita Guccione, along with those of Enrico Del Debbio, Sergio Musmeci, Pier Luigi Nervi and Carlo Scarpa. The exhibition Aldo Rossi. The architect and the cities is curated by Alberto Ferlenga, was organised in partnership with the Aldo Rossi Foundation curated by Chiara Spangaro and graced by Fausto and Vera Rossi contribution.

Cities were the main interest of Aldo Rossi (b.1931–d.1997),. His 1966 book, The architecture of the city, is still considered a classic of architectural literature today. Cities, that Aldo Rossi witnessed being ravaged by a terrible war and afterwards helped rebuild, are complex organisms, and places of encounter where all architectural styles and all artistic periods converge. And in the cities of the world, whether it be in Europe, America, or Asia, he performed as an "ante-litteram" archistar through a career culminating in 1990, when he was awarded the Pritzker Prize, a first for an Italian architect.

Alberto Ferlenga stated: "A titanic, ‘intensely desperate’ work, produced over the years, to restore scientific dignity and offer new tools to architecture; made up of writings, drawings, projects, works and continuously adapted to the pace of each city. Indeed, the cities are the leads of this exhibition on Aldo Rossi, observed and blended by his sensitivity as a poet and his depth as a scholar that converged in a figure that explored the international architectural panorama like no other."

The exhibition
A desire of expressing the greatness of his gaze, the complexity of his thoughts and research and the variety of Rossi's work is what breathes life into an exhibition that is extremely rich in materials, with over 800 pieces including documents, correspondence, models, sketches, drawings and photographs coming mainly from the archives of Aldo Rossi preserved in the MAXXI Architettura Collection and by the Aldo Rossi Foundation, as well as important loans, courtesy of the IUAV of Venice - Archivio Progetti, the Deutsches Architektur Museum in Frankfurt, and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht.

In addition to Rossi's own works, the exhibition boasts photographic images coming from the many important photographers who have measured themselves against his work and have thus enriched the meaning of each work of architecture with their own personal touch. In addition to the famous images by Luigi Ghirri, the exhibition also features those by other important photographers of the likes of Gabriele Basilico, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Ugo Mulas, Mario Carrieri, Stefano Topuntoli, Antonio Martinelli, Marco Introini.

The exhibition is divided into two large sections, one narrating his projects in Italy, the other those around the world and three additional thematics; the first revisits his years of training in Milan, the others are dedicated to two of the most iconic projects carried out by Rossi: the Modena cemetery and The Theatre of the World in Venice.