Palladio Virtuel

by | 25. Oct 2012

Exhibitions and Events
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Photo: William Sacco, Yale Photo + Design

This exhibition presents a radically new analysis of the work of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio by Peter Eisenman, renowned New York architect and Charles Gwathmey Professor in Practice at Yale. It represents the culmination of ten years of study of Palladio’s villas by Eisenman, adding an important contribution to the sixteenth-century master’s already robust legacy.

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Photo: William Sacco, Yale Photo + Design

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Photo: William Sacco, Yale Photo + Design

Focusing on twenty villas the exhibition proposes a reading of the buildings that undermines the traditional view of Palladio’s architecture as founded on ideal forms. Palladio Virtuel introduces a fundamentally different way of understanding the work. Rather than seeing Palladio as a Mannerist, deviating from a Renaissance ideal, Eisenman finds complex, indeterminate internal relationships in Palladio’s work.

This discovery is presented in the exhibition in three sections:

  1. The Classical Villas: The Impending Crisis of Synthesis
  2. The Barchessa Projects: Extensions into the Landscape
  3. The Virtual Villa: The Dissipation of the Villa Type

Each of the twenty buildings examined is represented by a diagrammatic model in which the traditional architectural components, the portico, circulation, and central figured spaces, are coded by color. Going beyond typology, proportion, and history, Eisenman’s models, along with 100-plus drawings, reveal adjacencies, superpositions, and overlays among these components, with no foundation in ideal symmetry or proportion.

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Vlla Rotonda Model overlaid with axonometric

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Palazzo Chiericati Model

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Palazzo Chiericati Axonometric

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Villa Foscari Model

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Vlla Foscari Axonometric

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Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Villa Repeta Model

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Villa Repeta Axonometric

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Courtesy Peter Eisenman and Matt Roman Villa Barbaro Maser Model


In contrast to inherited ideas of harmonic proportions, Eisenman’s radical analysis displaces any notion of a part-to-whole stability or ideal in Palladio’s work and proposes that his villa forms dissipated over the course of his career, their components essentially becoming unrecognizable.

In Palladio Virtuel, Palladio’s legacy is read as a confrontation with certain persistent formal problems. This is also seen in his treatise I Quattro Libri (The Four Books), for which, at the end of his life, Palladio redrew his buildings as he wanted them to be – as “virtual” projects. But he was also, in a sense, redrawing the very boundaries of the discipline at the time by proposing a series of radically different villa plans, each an exercise in double and triple readings. The layering of building, drawing, and text in The Four Books renders Palladio’s architectural project conceptually incomplete.

The exhibition is on view through October 27, 2012

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CITY New Haven, Connecticut
COUNTRY USA

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