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Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Vatican City, 3 December 2013 (VIS) - “Santiago Calatrava: the metamorphosis of space” is the title of the exhibition dedicated to the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, which opens tomorrow afternoon in the Braccio Carlo Magno, in the colonnade of St. Peter's Square.

The exhibition, which is open until 20 February 2014, has been organised by the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and gathers together around 140 works representing Calatrava's complex and varied artistic oeuvre. It consists primarily of a group of architectural models, accompanied by their preparatory studies, as well as watercolour paintings, the result of an entirely different creative impulse. The display also includes a rich collection of sculptures, both monumental and of smaller dimensions, in materials such as bronze, marble, alabaster and wood.

The juxtaposition of works representing such different artistic codes follows various criteria for guiding the observer towards various levels in the interpretation of architectural volumes and the vision of space and forms, typical of Calatrava's work.

Thus, the large architectural model of the Greek-Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, planned for Ground Zero, is displayed alongside evocative watercolour drawings in which the gaze of the artist ranges from the study of the mosaics and the dome of Santa Sophia in Istanbul, to the face of Christ, the ideal model for the centrally planned church. The twisted veils of the sports centre for the University “Tor Vergata” in Rome are accompanied by three paintings of crouching figures, as a study of forces in equilibrium.

The model of the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York also forms part of the exhibition. Its magnificence contrasts with the model of the Los Angeles Chapel, in the form of a cabin, dedicated to the Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra. The cabin, the first church of the community of Franciscans in Baja California, is the model for a chapel immersed in space, in water and in the air, rejecting the physical border between sacred and collective space.

The catalogue, by Edizioni Musei Vaticani, is presented by the director of the Museums, Antonio Paolucci, and includes contributions by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Antonella Greco, professor of history of architecture in the Faculty of Architecture of the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, and Micol Forti, director of the Contemporary Art Collection of the Vatican Museums.

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