Modern Architecture and the Actualisation of History: Bruno Zevi and Michelangiolo Architetto
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In 1964, Paolo Portoghesi and Bruno Zevi curated the exhibition "Michelangiolo architetto" in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). It was accompanied by a book in which Zevi outlined a programme for understanding how Michelangelo could be an intellectual and professional model for contemporary architects negotiating the post-war inheritance of modernist functionalism. This paper considers Zevi's argument in detail as one instance in the longer history of the reception of historical knowledge within architectural culture and its instrumental arms during the 1960s. By what process did Zevi make Michelangelo's oeuvre available to modern architecture, and to what ends? The paper suggests that the answer to these questions can inform a study of the long-baroque, which for Zevi and his contemporaries entertained a lineage from Michelangelo to Piranesi. By focussing on this specific case in discourse with questions concerning the framing of this study on Michelangelo and his twentieth century historiography, the paper prefaces a study of the more substantial instrumentalisation of baroque architectural history that follows in the 1960s and 1970s. The paper argues that Zevi developed the terms of his history of this later development in his treatment of Michelangelo. With this wider historiographical context in mind, Zevi's presentation of Michelangelo, as recalled here, sheds light on the limitations of critico-historical categories as well as on the projective capacity of historical "lessons". Considering the agenda of Michelangiolo architetto, the paper positions this example within the intellectual history of twentieth century architectural culture.
Proceedings of the XXVth International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
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Architectural History and Theory