1. THE LOOK, THE FACE, THE SOUL.
AN EXHIBITION PRESENTS 200 IMAGES FROM MARIA MULAS’ BOUNDLESS ARCHIVES.
words ELENA DALLORSO
Empathy is a matter of genes, and gender. The portraits of Maria Mulas might just be scientific proof. Until 6 September 2017, Palazzo Morando in Milan hosts “Obiettivo Milano. 200 portraits from the archives of Maria Mulas” (curated by Maria Canella and Andrea Tomasetig with Antonella Scaramuzzino and Clara Melchiorre), an exhibition with an accent on empathy. The understanding between Mulas and her subjects is clear, whether the pictures are posed or candid: realism, irony, natural ease, artifice, the ordinary and the exceptional. Portraits made during the hanging of exhibitions, at the Venice Biennale or in New York, at openings, or in the studio. Artists, in fact, were the first to notice the talent of Maria Mulas for revealing truth. The show is divided into seven sections: the first, “Coda rossa con macchina fotografica”, features self-portraits and images of Maria’s brothers, Ugo and Mario Mulas, as well as the painter and writer Emilio Tadini. Next come the “Artist friends”, “The city of design”, “The fashion world”, “The performing arts”, “The others are bourgeois” and “Writers, journalists, publishers”. And then drawings, postcards, writings, documenting the relationship between the photographer and her subjects. Achille Castiglioni at his window on Piazza Castello, Magistretti in a quiet moment with his chairs, Max Vignelli with the whole family. The section “The others are bourgeois”
presents visages and social rituals of the city, intercepted with great irony: Lo sceicco bianco in 1971, Cappello con
signora in 1970, Milanese ladies in the garden, at the theater, at the buffet. «Photography is my way of thinking», Maria Mulas said. And the red thread is Milan, with all of its intellectual and artistic fauna. The list of celebrities is endless, in an archive of over 20,000 shots: Marina Abramovic, Christo, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Gae Aulenti, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Miuccia Prada, Giorgio Strehler, Liz Taylor, Jorge Luis Borges, Günter Grass, Nanda Pivano, and Gio Ponti.
THE FIAT 500 TURNS 60. OR MAYBE 10, IF WE CONSIDER ONLY THE LATEST VERSION. A TIMELESS ICON OF STYLE AND A SYMBOL OF DESIGN MADE IN ITALY.
words PAOLO MATTEO COZZI
The 4th of July. The day of the debut of the first Fiat 500 as well as its modern counterpart, in 2007, which came exactly 50 years after the original. With 60 years of history and almost 6 million units sold since 1957, the Fiat 500 is much more than just a car: it is an authentic pop icon, a symbol of Italian style that never goes out of fashion. It all began in the 1950s, when the automobile coincided with dreams of a new lifestyle for Italians. Just after the war the two-wheelers of the Lambretta by Cesare Pallavicino and the
Vespa by Corradino D’Ascanio granted mobility to an entire generation. One decade later, people were ready to switch to vehicles with four wheels. The economic boom swept away the tragic past: on Sundays motorists left town, headed for the lakes or the seaside. The first national motorway, the A1, connected north and south, Milan and Naples. Between 1957 and the cultural revolution of 1968 the birth rate rose from 850,000 to 1,050,000 before being reduced by half in the ambitious 1980s. Those were the years of the Italian victory at the World Cup in Spain (1982), of yuppies and “Reaganite hedonism”, the Fall of the Wall and the demise of the old ideologies. The 500 was still a family vehicle, the car for the kids. The first car, the place where people did things for the first time. It didn’t change its look until the 1990s, and from 1991 to 1998 the second generation was called Cinquecento, prior to the revival in the middle of the 2000s, with the third generation. In 2006 Italy was again victorious, this time in Berlin, The Devil wore Prada, and in Turin Lapo Elkann gave the green light to the project of a new Fiat 500 designed by Roberto Giolito. The new model was ready for its debut on 4 July 2007, in the year of the first iPhone. Convertible, electric, styled by big names of Italian fashion: it was an immediate planetary success, with 75% of production exported to 83 countries, where Made in Italy continues to spread its appeal in food, fashion, luxury, and with an inimitable city car. The Fiat 500.
3. THE BEST LOVED.
NOT EXCLUSIVE, LIKE A SMALL VILLA, NOR AS DEMOCRATIC AS A LARGE APARTMENT HOUSE, THE PALAZZINA IS THE FAVORITE HOUSING MODEL OF THE ROMAN BOURGEOISIE. OFFSPRING OF A MASTER PLAN OF EXPANSION, THEME OF EXPERIMENTATION OF GREAT ARCHITECTS, BUT ALSO A HUNTING GROUND FOR UNSCRUPULOUS SPECULATORS, IT IS NOW THE PROTAGONIST OF A NEW BOOK.
words ELENA DALLORSO
If there is a year zero in the history of the Roman palazzina, or the smaller and sometimes luxurious variety of the apartment house, it might be 1909, the date of the first master plan signed by Edmondo Sanjust di Teulada (under the enlightened mayor Ernesto Nathan), which divided housing in the new areas of expansion of the capital into apartment blocks and villas. This formula didn’t match the ambitions of the burgeoning bourgeoisie: villas were too aristocratic, apartment blocks too humble. So a local compromise was born, the palazzina, so christened by Marcello Piacentini: three or at most four levels, 9 to 12 flats, no need for too much social interaction (while in Milan the condo building was all the rage, a space of civil coexistence of many tenants). The history of this typology, its glory and decline, is narrated by Alfredo Passeri, a professor of Appraisal at the Department of Architecture Roma Tre, in La palazzina romana… irruente e sbadata (Merangoli Editrice). «This type marked the beginning of the most extraordinary adventures of edification of which Rome can boast, among the architectural opportunities of its urban history», Passeri writes. But it also led to the birth and spread of an unsavory professional figure, that of the palazzinaro (speculator). Alberto Statera, almost 40 years ago, provided a perfect profile: «Men unfamiliar to the public and the tax collectors, always hesitant about their grammar, but conservatively estimated by Banco di Roma to have accumulated 500 billion, maybe a trillion. They were the palazzinari, a rugged Roman race of ignorant businessmen, well-versed in complaint and compromise, but also capable of remarkable ruthlessness; inclined to offer bribes, and above all skillful practitioners of real estate extortion». They created ugly districts of cement, defacing the outskirts of the capital. But they also made the habitat dreams of Romans come true. «The palazzina went through its best phase after World War II», Passeri explains. «It became a terrain of pure architectural experimentation, reaching an apex of qualitative complexity in the second half of the 1950s, thanks to designers like Libera, Moretti, Luccichenti».