Cesare Leonardi: Strutture
The Villa Croce Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first comprehensive exhibition on the work of Cesare Leonardi (b. 1935, Modena, Italy). An architect and photographer, in the course of a career that spanned more than four decades Leonardi has continuously challenged the boundary between design and artistic practice.
The exhibition uses the historical backdrop of Villa Croce to explore three broad topics — chairs, shadows, trees — which preoccupied Leonardi throughout his career, and on which he worked across very different scales. In parallel with the acclaimed work on fiberglass furniture, in the 1960s Leonardi and Stagi embarked on a twenty-year-long project to redraw common trees in order to provide a missing tool for landscape designers. The result, is a group of more than 360 hand-inked scale drawings, published in the book L’Architettura degli Alberi (1982) that is now out of print; poetic and obsessive, it goes far beyond its original intentions. A focal point of the exhibition is a series of more than fifty original drawings.
In the 1980s, as a reaction to the oil crisis that made fiberglass no longer sustainable, Leonardi began working with simple timber formwork. Decontextualized and combined according to increasingly complex patterns, the yellow boards became a series of furniture termed Solidi. These are veritable sculptures in which Leonardi explores the idea of an infinite permutation of the same element. Similarly, photography informed and played along Leonardi’s entire career, reflecting both his interest for abstract form and his analogic working method, which was always based on iterations and sequences.
Cesare Leonardi: Strutture is an intimate journey inside Leonardi’s extraordinary body of work where, in spite of the ever-shifting scales of design, it is possible to see a constant tension between work of art and craftsmanship, and between single element and structure.