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Maniera Precedent and Mannerist Attitude in Modern Italy: Giuseppe Terragni and Luigi Moretti

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Elliot Harvie
University of Queensland Brisbane Australia
The stylistic definition of Mannerism presents many problems for the architect and historian alike. Developed as a category during the twentieth century, to better describe the turbulent transition from renaissance to baroque, the nature of the style and the limits of the period have been the subject of constant redefinition since. Further difficulties stem from Mannerism’s reinvention as non-historical precept by architects and critics, construed as an ‘implicit mannerism’ that may assert itself in the architecture of any period, an operation typified by Robert Venturi’s ideal of complexity and contradiction in architecture. The present study seeks to clarify the relationship between an architect’s interests in Sixteenth Century Mannerism and the possibility of an internalised mannerist comportment in their built works, quite apart from any revivalist content. Such an undertaking continues the direction established by Colin Rowe, whose speculation on the resonance of Mannerist themes within certain projects of Le Corbusier’s remains unresolved. By shifting focus from Le Corbusier to the Italian Rationalist School, a further avenue for this pursuit of implicit mannerism is revealed. Aspects of the Rationalist attitude to the classical tradition invite these comparisons, most particularly in the works of Giuseppe Terragni (1904-1943) and Luigi Moretti (1907-1973), both of whom exhibited profound operative interests in Mannerist architecture. It is argued here that Terragni’s historicist engagement with this language came to imbue his more aesthetically modernist works with a mannerist complexity or ambiguity of conception. Moretti’s relationship with mannerism would seem more complex, with mannerist quotations finding their way into mature post-war works (a polemic overthrow of anti-historical modernism), which in turn reveal their abstracted mannerist skeleton at the scale of the whole composition. Peter Eisenman’s close readings of either of these architects’ works are greatly revealing of such structures, and it is proposed that Eisenman’s operation is itself a kind of mannerist reading, partaking of a Venturian delight in calculated complexity. Mannerist tendencies are here considered according to various criteria or crypto-mannerist guises, each a version of implicit mannerism.
Elliot Harvie

Dr John Macarthur
Silvia Micheli
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