Vittorio Gregotti to Receive Golden Lion

John Hill
27. August 2020
Molino Stucky in Guidecca, Venice, the subject of Vittorio Gregotti's 1975 exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia. (Photo: Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons)

Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti, who died in March at the age of 92, is one of four former artistic directors of La Biennale di Venezia who will be given posthumous Golden Lions in early September.

An announcement from earlier this month reveals that the board of directors of the Biennale will award Special Golden Lions for 2020 to Maurizio Calvesi, Germano Celant, Okwui Enwezor, and Vittorio Gregotti. The awards will be given on the first day of September, three days after the opening of The Disquieted Muses, the special exhibition that will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Biennale and will run in place of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition that moved to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus was also responsible for the death of Gregotti on March 15 and for taking 79-year-old Italian art critic Germano Celant, who directed the Biennale's 47th International Art Exhibition in 1997. Maurizio Calvesi, the Italian art critic who directed the 41st and 42nd International Art Exhibitions, died in July at the age of 92, and curator Okwui Enwezor, who directed the 56th International Art Exhibition, died last year from cancer at the age of 55.

Vittorio Gregotti's history with the Biennale is especially deep, given that he curated shows on architecture in the visual arts department before the first official architecture Biennale in 1980. These include A proposito del Molino Stucky in 1975, an exhibition that explored possible uses for the old mill, and three exhibitions in 1976: Werkbund 1907. Alle origini del design; Il razionalismo e l’architettura in Italia durante il fascismo; and Europa-America, centro storico, suburbio. These exhibitions took place during his three-year tenure (1974-1977) as artistic director of the visual arts department.

Golden Lions are usually given to living artists and architects in recognition of lifetime accomplishments, as decided upon by the artistic directors and the president of the Biennale. Golden Lions awarded as part of recent architecture Biennales include historian Kenneth Frampton in 2018, architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha in 2016, museum director Phyllis Lambert in 2014, and architect Álvaro Siza Vieira in 2012.

With regards to the special posthumous awards, Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, had these words: 

La Biennale di Venezia’s international standing must also be credited to the work and the originality of its artistic directors, who have marked some of the most significant changes in contemporary culture. La Biennale was the laboratory where Calvesi, Celant, Enwezor and Gregotti expressed their original and visionary critical thinking which looked to the future, often anticipating it. The Disquieted Muses highlights them as the protagonists of an exhibition about the history of the Institution, which marks the beginning of a permanent dialogue among the contemporary arts in the spirit of common research.

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