Carlo Scarpa and Castelvecchio Revisited
Breakfast Mission Publishing, 2018
Carlo Scarpa worked on the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona intermittently between 1957 and 1975. It is perhaps his most important project. His work there draws on all his remarkable skills. It demonstrates how to work creatively within a building which already possesses a complex history. It is a magnificent example of his highly personal language of architecture, not least his incredible eye for detail and mastery of the crafting of materials. And it contains a museum exhibition which is as radical and timeless today as the day it opened in 1964 and has served as an inspiration to museum designers ever since. His most extraordinary achievement is where all these themes coincide in the astonishing display of the equestrian statue of Cangrande, perhaps the most remarkable setting for a single work of art ever made.
This book analyses not just Scarpa’s work as we find it today, and in great detail, but also introduces the reader to the complex history of the building as well as sequences of Scarpa’s own highly revealing drawings; witnesses to a brilliant curiosity and holistic approach to design where the art and architecture are completely complimentary.
Richard Murphy surveyed the whole building in 1986, and later interviewed many of Scarpa’s collaborators, including his craftsmen, and analysed all Scarpa’s drawings leading to three exhibitions and a book published in 1990. However, Carlo Scarpa and Castelvecchio Revisited is in many ways unrecognizable from its predecessor. It is neither a second edition nor is it a completely new analysis. It has started with the 1990 publication but the format is larger and 198 pages have grown to 384. Almost twice as many Scarpa drawings have been selected (some were unknown in 1990), and this time they are printed in colour with a reference system to guide the reader to details within them. Large sections of the accompanying text have been rewritten and expanded and there are two new chapters. Perhaps most importantly there are many more photographs, both of the building at various phases of its complex life but also superb contemporary colour photography by Peter Guthrie assisted by Matthew Hyndman.