Friday, October 26, 2012

The Encyclopedic Palace Inspires the 2013 Venice International Exhibition of Contemporary Art

Marino Auriti
Encyclopedic Palace of the World
ca. 1950s
American Folk Art Museum
Photo by Gavin Ashworth
(Venice, Italy) Thanks to his loving grandchildren, self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti's dream of a palace to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race -- from the wheel to the satellite -- lives on, inspiring the title for the 55th Venice Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition.

Mario Auriti, a whimsical inventor and self-taught artist, was born in 1891 in Guardiagrele, a town in central Italy. He eventually settled in Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania with his family, where he built a huge garage and set up an auto-body shop and "artistic framing" business. In the garage, he painted with oils, copying old masters and photos clipped out of National Geographic. It was also where he created his ultimate dream, a large model for the Encyclopedic Palace, which, in his fantasy, would become a national monument for knowledge, a skyscraper in Washington, D.C. After his death 1980, his dream ended up in storage, where it slowly decomposed until resurrected by the American Folk Art Museum in 2004.

Auriti's granddaughter, B.G. Firmani, has written a poignant memorial about the efforts of the family to ensure that his dream did not die. From FORTE E GENTILE, a post entitled, Io Vivo! The Encyclopedic Palace Rises Again:

...But it was after my grandfather retired, in the 1950s, when he set to work on his pièce de résistance, the Encyclopedic Palace.  This one wasn’t just a model, though. 

It was a design for a museum, a national monument. He filled notebooks developing its concept; in his statement of purpose, in my stiff translation from his Italian, he called it “…an entirely new concept in museums, designed to hold all the works of man in whatever field, all discoveries made and those that may follow.”  He wanted it built on the mall in DC – and if built at the time, at 136 stories, it would have been the tallest skyscraper in the world.  With its surrounding piazza it would take up 16 city blocks.  He built the model, at a scale of 1:200 meters, out of wood, brass, plastic, and tiny celluloid windows on which he drew mullions; for the tiny balustrades, he cut down hair combs.  And this time, so no one could scoop him, he secured a patent for his creation.  

Continue reading at FORTE E GENTILE.

Massimiliano Gioni (Busto Arsizio, 1973), the curator for the 2013 Venice Biennale Contemporary Art Festival, chose the title Il Palazzo Enciclopedico/The Encyclopedic Palace, explaining, "...on November 16, 1955 Marino Auriti filed a design with the US Patent office depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico... Auriti's plan was never carried out, of course, but the dream of universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout history, as one the eccentrics like Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists and prophets who have tried -- often in vain -- to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness."

I love this theme! Imagine that instead of the world's tallest skyscraper, Auriti's dream comes true in the sprawling Biennale International Contemporary Art Exhibition, each pavilion filled with art inspired by knowledge unique to that country. Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, stated, "Each [pavilion] has its own history and style. It may certainly be said that in them the countries reveal the role attributed to contemporary art as messenger of their present and their cultural wealth. But the pavilions also provide revelations on more profound realities and riches than those of the usual official and stereotyped images or pretexts."

 
US Pavilion
Yesterday, October 25, 2012, Paolo Baratta and Massimiliano Gioni met the representatives of the participating countries at Ca' Giustinian, Biennale headquarters. There are eight countries participating in the art festival for the first time: the Bahamas, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, Maldives, the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) & Nigeria, participating with the African countries, and Paraguay, participating with the IILa (the Italo-Latin America Institute). The vice-president of the promotional committee for the Holy See's participation at Biennale Arte 2013 was also present.


La Biennale
Imagine, the Biennale in Venice, a city that contains all sorts of libraries, churches and palaces stuffed with ancient knowledge, adding eight new countries to its ever-expanding contemporary universe, inspired by the dream of an Encyclopedic Palace created by an Italian immigrant out back in a Pennsylvania garage!

The 55th Venice Biennale International Contemporary Art Exhibition will run from June 1 to November 25, 2013, with previews on May 29, 30 and 31.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


1 comment:

  1. Imagine, the Biennale in Venice, a city that contains all sorts of libraries, churches and palaces stuffed with ancient knowledge, adding eight new countries to its ever-expanding contemporary universe, inspired by the dream of an Encyclopedic Palace created by an Italian immigrant out back in a Pennsylvania garage!

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