Gianni Pettena, all his work in a book

Gianni Pettena, all his work in a book

A colourful and complete summa dedicated to one of the masters of Italian radical architecture, the new volume with a witty title, Tutto, tutto, tutto…o quasi (edited by Pino Brugellis Alberto Salvadori and Elisabetta Trincherini) provides a comprehensive and 360-degree look at the entire oeuvre of Gianni Pettena. And it is configured as a starting point for the study of the artist’s whole production.

Born in 1940, Pettena is one of the protagonists of the Florentine radical avant-garde along with Archizoom, Superstudio, Ufo, 9999, Izziggurat and Remo Buti. His critical activism made him one of the theoretical binders of the movement, of which he represented the most ironic and transversal soul.

Gianni Pettena, Rumble Sofa, 1967.

His works anticipated important reflections on contemporary architecture, in particular the relationship with the body, with nature and the landscape. Fascinated by teachers like Adalberto Libera, Leonardo Benevolo and Ludovico Quaroni – who taught on the Florentine faculty in the early 1960s – he moved to Florence from Bolzano to study architecture. But there he ended up learning ‘anarchitecture’. Beginning in his student days he collaborated with numerous artists and developed his own alternative architectural language, expressed via hybrid techniques at the boundary between design and art.

Gianni Pettena, exhibition design for the Premio Masaccio exhibition, S. Giovanni Valdarno, 1968.

In 1968, the year he graduated, he created the exhibition design for the Premio Masaccio exhibition in San Giovanni Valdarno, dubbed by him Dialogo Pettena-Arnolfo, an invasion of the loggias with which he gave a brand new look to the historic building. He spent the following years in the United States, where he worked as a teacher and a critic at California State University and other important schools. There he made some of his most radical works, such as Ice I and Ice II (Minneapolis, 1971), Clay House, Tumbleweeds, Catcher and Red Line (Salt Lake City, 1972). The following year he published his manifesto: L’anarchitetto. The themes explored in those years would persist throughout all his production, with works gradually becoming more refined and sophisticated, but always attributable to the roots of that radical inspiration.

Gianni Pettena, ICE II, Minneapolis, 1972.

Gianni Pettena
Tutto, tutto, tutto… o quasi / Absolutely Everything… or Almost.
Edited by Pino Brugellis, Alberto Salvadori, Elisabetta Trincherini
Edizioni Quodlibet, 2022
528 pages, €38

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