Max Bill in Italia . Lo spazio logico dell'architettura

Fabbri, Roberto (2009) Max Bill in Italia . Lo spazio logico dell'architettura, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Composizione architettonica, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/1449.
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I Max Bill is an intense giornata of a big fresco. An analysis of the main social, artistic and cultural events throughout the twentieth century is needed in order to trace his career through his masterpieces and architectures. Some of the faces of this hypothetical mural painting are, among others, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Kandinskij, Klee, Mondrian, Vatongerloo, Ignazio Silone, while the backcloth is given by artistic avant-gardes, Bauhaus, International Exhibitions, CIAM, war events, reconstruction, Milan Triennali, Venice Biennali, the School of Ulm. Architect, even though more known as painter, sculptor, designer and graphic artist, Max Bill attends the Bauhaus as a student in the years 1927-1929, and from this experience derives the main features of a rational, objective, constructive and non figurative art. His research is devoted to give his art a scientific methodology: each work proceeds from the analysis of a problem to the logical and always verifiable solution of the same problem. By means of composition elements (such as rhythm, seriality, theme and its variation, harmony and dissonance), he faces, with consistent results, themes apparently very distant from each other as the project for the H.f.G. or the design for a font. Mathematics are a constant reference frame as field of certainties, order, objectivity: ‘for Bill mathematics are never confined to a simple function: they represent a climate of spiritual certainties, and also the theme of non attempted in its purest state, objectivity of the sign and of the geometrical place, and at the same time restlessness of the infinity: Limited and Unlimited ’. In almost sixty years of activity, experiencing all artistic fields, Max Bill works, projects, designs, holds conferences and exhibitions in Europe, Asia and Americas, confronting himself with the most influencing personalities of the twentieth century. In such a vast scenery, the need to limit the investigation field combined with the necessity to address and analyse the unpublished and original aspect of Bill’s relations with Italy. The original contribution of the present research regards this particular ‘geographic delimitation’; in particular, beyond the deep cultural exchanges between Bill and a series of Milanese architects, most of all with Rogers, two main projects have been addressed: the realtà nuova at Milan Triennale in 1947, and the Contemporary Art Museum in Florence in 1980. It is important to note that these projects have not been previously investigated, and the former never appears in the sources either. These works, together with the most well-known ones, such as the projects for the VI and IX Triennale, and the Swiss pavilion for the Biennale, add important details to the reference frame of the relations which took place between Zurich and Milan. Most of the occasions for exchanges took part in between the Thirties and the Fifties, years during which Bill underwent a significant period of artistic growth. He meets the Swiss progressive architects and the Paris artists from the Abstraction-Création movement, enters the CIAM, collaborates with Le Corbusier to the third volume of his Complete Works, and in Milan he works and gets confronted with the events related to post-war reconstruction. In these years Bill defines his own working methodology, attaining an artistic maturity in his work. The present research investigates the mentioned time period, despite some necessary exceptions. II The official Max Bill bibliography is naturally wide, including spreading works along with ones more devoted to analytical investigation, mainly written in German and often translated into French and English (Max Bill himself published his works in three languages). Few works have been published in Italian and, excluding the catalogue of the Parma exhibition from 1977, they cannot be considered comprehensive. Many publications are exhibition catalogues, some of which include essays written by Max Bill himself, some others bring Bill’s comments in a educational-pedagogical approach, to accompany the observer towards a full understanding of the composition processes of his art works. Bill also left a great amount of theoretical speculations to encourage a critical reading of his works in the form of books edited or written by him, and essays published in ‘Werk’, magazine of the Swiss Werkbund, and other international reviews, among which Domus and Casabella. These three reviews have been important tools of analysis, since they include tracks of some of Max Bill’s architectural works. The architectural aspect is less investigated than the plastic and pictorial ones in all the main reference manuals on the subject: Benevolo, Tafuri and Dal Co, Frampton, Allenspach consider Max Bill as an artist proceeding in his work from Bauhaus in the Ulm experience . A first filing of his works was published in 2004 in the monographic issue of the Spanish magazine 2G, together with critical essays by Karin Gimmi, Stanislaus von Moos, Arthur Rüegg and Hans Frei, and in ‘Konkrete Architektur?’, again by Hans Frei. Moreover, the monographic essay on the Atelier Haus building by Arthur Rüegg from 1997, and the DPA 17 issue of the Catalonia Polytechnic with contributions of Carlos Martì, Bruno Reichlin and Ton Salvadò, the latter publication concentrating on a few Bill’s themes and architectures. An urge to studying and going in depth in Max Bill’s works was marked in 2008 by the centenary of his birth and by a recent rediscovery of Bill as initiator of the ‘minimalist’ tradition in Swiss architecture. Bill’s heirs are both very active in promoting exhibitions, researching and publishing. Jakob Bill, Max Bill’s son and painter himself, recently published a work on Bill’s experience in Bauhaus, and earlier on he had published an in-depth study on ‘Endless Ribbons’ sculptures. Angela Thomas Schmid, Bill’s wife and art historian, published in end 2008 the first volume of a biography on Max Bill and, together with the film maker Eric Schmid, produced a documentary film which was also presented at the last Locarno Film Festival. Both biography and documentary concentrate on Max Bill’s political involvement, from antifascism and 1968 protest movements to Bill experiences as Zurich Municipality councilman and member of the Swiss Confederation Parliament. In the present research, the bibliography includes also direct sources, such as interviews and original materials in the form of letters correspondence and graphic works together with related essays, kept in the max+binia+jakob bill stiftung archive in Zurich. III The results of the present research are organized into four main chapters, each of them subdivided into four parts. The first chapter concentrates on the research field, reasons, tools and methodologies employed, whereas the second one consists of a short biographical note organized by topics, introducing the subject of the research. The third chapter, which includes unpublished events, traces the historical and cultural frame with particular reference to the relations between Max Bill and the Italian scene, especially Milan and the architects Rogers and Baldessari around the Fifties, searching the themes and the keys for interpretation of Bill’s architectures and investigating the critical debate on the reviews and the plastic survey through sculpture. The fourth and last chapter examines four main architectures chosen on a geographical basis, all devoted to exhibition spaces, investigating Max Bill’s composition process related to the pictorial field. Paintings has surely been easier and faster to investigate and verify than the building field. A doctoral thesis discussed in Lausanne in 1977 investigating Max Bill’s plastic and pictorial works, provided a series of devices which were corrected and adapted for the definition of the interpretation grid for the composition structures of Bill’s main architectures. Four different tools are employed in the investigation of each work: a context analysis related to chapter three results; a specific theoretical essay by Max Bill briefly explaining his main theses, even though not directly linked to the very same work of art considered; the interpretation grid for the composition themes derived from a related pictorial work; the architecture drawing and digital three-dimensional model. The double analysis of the architectural and pictorial fields is functional to underlining the relation among the different elements of the composition process; the two fields, however, cannot be compared and they stay, in Max Bill’s works as in the present research, interdependent though self-sufficient. IV An important aspect of Max Bill production is self-referentiality: talking of Max Bill, also through Max Bill, as a need for coherence instead of a method limitation. Ernesto Nathan Rogers describes Bill as the last humanist, and his horizon is the known world but, as the ‘Concrete Art’ of which he is one of the main representatives, his production justifies itself: Max Bill not only found a method, but he autonomously re-wrote the ‘rules of the game’, derived timeless theoretical principles and verified them through a rich and interdisciplinary artistic production. The most recurrent words in the present research work are synthesis, unity, space and logic. These terms are part of Max Bill’s vocabulary and can be referred to his works. Similarly, graphic settings or analytical schemes in this research text referring to or commenting Bill’s architectural projects were drawn up keeping in mind the concise precision of his architectural design. As for Mies van der Rohe, it has been written that Max Bill took art to ‘zero degree’ reaching in this way a high complexity. His works are a synthesis of art: they conceptually encompass all previous and –considered their developments- most of contemporary pictures. Contents and message are generally explicitly declared in the title or in Bill’s essays on his artistic works and architectural projects: the beneficiary is invited to go through and re-build the process of synthesis generating the shape. In the course of the interview with the Milan artist Getulio Alviani, he tells how he would not write more than a page for an essay on Josef Albers: everything was already evident ‘on the surface’ and any additional sentence would be redundant. Two years after that interview, these pages attempt to decompose and single out the elements and processes connected with some of Max Bill’s works which, for their own origin, already contain all possible explanations and interpretations. The formal reduction in favour of contents maximization is, perhaps, Max Bill’s main lesson.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Fabbri, Roberto
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Ingegneria civile ed architettura
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Max Bill, Italia, composizione, spazio, logica, architettura.
Data di discussione
25 Maggio 2009

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