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WORLDLY GOODS: THE WORK OF CARLO SCARPA

Carlo Scarpa, Brion Tomb and Sanctuary, 1969–78, San Vito d’Altivole, Italy. Photo: LeonL/Flickr.

FEW MODERNISMS seem “later” than that of visionary Italian architect and designer CARLO SCARPA (1906–1978). In buildings, objects, and museum interiors that are as richly detailed as they are refined, as innovative as they are strange, Scarpa articulated a modernism that is constantly elegizing itself, its grand gestalts breaking down into jewel-like fragments alongside the styles and structures of the past. Yet there is no pastiche in Scarpa’s work, only a devotion to material truth—a truth that is always historical as well as phenomenological, allusive as well as immanent—and this verity is perhaps one reason that Scarpa’s work has proven such a fertile resource for artists now. On the occasion of the exhibition “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932–1947”—opening this month at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—artists JOSIAH McELHENY

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