Update to Guarino Guarini Resources

Some of the original periodicals are also yellowed. Here, D. G. Cravero, “Il Palazzo Carignano.” Atti e rassegna tecnica della Società degli ingegneri e degli architetti in Torino 5, no. 2 (1951): 55–63.
Source: Digital Repository, Politecnico di Torino

My files for my work include dozens of tattered old photocopies that I painstakingly collected during the work on my dissertation decades ago. Some of these historic articles appeared in obscure journals available only in a limited number of libraries. As the copies fade and the paper yellows, I sometimes wonder how much longer the texts will be legible.

Fortunately, more and more of these publications are being digitized. Last month, a sentimental favorite of mine – Hugo Schmerber’s “Einige Nachrichten über Guarino Guarini,” (Monatsberichte über Kunstwissenschaft und Kunsthandel 2, no. 8 (1902): 286–87) – appeared among the wonderful art journals digitized at the University of Heidelberg. A quote from Schmerber’s brief article served as a kind of motto for my dissertation: “Bei einem Manne, der wie Guarini sein Leben einem Orden geweiht hat, erscheint es einleuchtend, dass er in seinem Wirken als Künstler mehr oder minder von der religiösen Genossenschaft, der er angehörte, influenziert war.” His essay also provided the first published discussion of Guarini’s Prague design and its historic context.

I have now updated the Resources section of this website with a new page that gathers links to Schmerber and digitized versions of other older literature on Guarino Guarini. All the items date to before 1970, when the Guarini literature virtually exploded due to the catalytic effect of the 1968 conference on the architect held in Turin. The page will be updated periodically as new material becomes available in digitized formats.

Complete List of Resources Pages

Guarini’s Publications Online
Early Biographies of Guarini
Guarini Drawings Online
Guarini Sites Outside Turin
Guarino Guarini Timeline
Older Literature on Guarino Guarini Online
Other Guarini Resources
Re | Visiting Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

Borromini Colloquium in Einsiedeln

30 June-1 July 2019

Portrait of Francesco Borromini, frontispiece to Opera del Cav. Francesco Boromino, Cavata da Suoi Originali cioè L’Oratorio e Fabrica per l’Abitazione De PP. dell’Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri di Roma, ed. Sebastiano Giannini (Rome, 1725).
Source: Getty Research Institute / Internet Archive

Werner Oechslin (Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin / ETH Zürich) and Francesco Moschini (Accademia di San Luca, Rome) have organized a two-day colloquium on Francesco Borromini, his sources, and his architectural offspring. The event assembles many established and emerging Borromini scholars and features a special keynote address by Paolo Portoghesi.

I am looking forward to participating with my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection.” My talk examines Guarino Guarini’s adaptation of Borrominian motifs at his ill-fated church of Sainte-Anne-la-Royale in Paris, and the subsequent reception of this design by French architectural writers.

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Program

Sonntag, 30. Juni / Domenica, 30 giugno
1. Arbeitstag. Borromini und seine Architektur im Kontext / Primo giorno: Borromini e la sua architettura nel contesto

09.30 –12.00 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.00

● Francesco Moschini / Werner Oechslin
Einführung, Hypothesen / Introduzione, Ipotesi

● Paolo Porthoghesi (Rom)
Prolusione inaugurale: L’architettura di Borromini

● Federico Bellini (Rom)
La SS. Sapienza: l’espressione visual e sonora del misterio trinitario

13.30 –18.00 Uhr / Ore 13.30–18.00

● Giuseppe Bonaccorso (Rom)
Borromini e i rapporti con amici, conoscenti e committenti: una chiave di comprensione del suo processo del fare

● Eleonora Gaudieri (Wien)
Alois Riegels „Entstehung der Barockkunst in Rom“

Kaffeepause

● Alina Aggujaro (Rom)
Bramante e Borromini: le due prospettive

● Alexander von Kienlin, Gunnar Schulz-Lehnfeld (Braunschweig)
„Aufgebrochene Schlingen und Ketten“ – zum Michelangiolesken in Borrominis Architektur

Montag, 01. Juli / Lunedì, 01 Luglio
2. Arbeitstag: Borromini und die Folgen: Geometrie, Entwurfsprozesse / Secondo giorno: Borromini e le consequenze: Geometria, procedure del disegno

09.30 –12.30 Uhr / Ore 09.30–12.30

● Susan Klaiber (Winterthur)
Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection

Kaffeepause

● Martin Raspe (Rom)
Il Calvino dell‘ Architettura? Borromini und die Doktrin vom rechten Winkel

● Werner Oechslin (Einsiedeln)
Borromini il Cartesio dell’Architettura und die (nachfolgende) Disziplinierung der Kurve

14.30 –18.00 Uhr/ Ore 14.30–18.00

● Daniel Tischler (Wien)
Synoptische Architekturzeichnungen Borrominis

● Richard Bösel (Tuscania) – Diskutant

● Torsten Tjarks (Bonn) – Diskutant

Kaffeepause

● Stefan Kummer (Würzburg)
Anmerkungen zur vermeintlichen ‚Kurvenfeindlichkeit‘ Balthasar Neumanns am Beispiel der Würzburger Residenz

● Sebastian Schütze – Diskutant

● Schlussdiskussion / conclusione

18.15 Uhr / Ore 18.15: Besichtigung der Klosterkirche Einsiedeln / Visita della abbazia di Einsiedeln

Venue

Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin
Luegetenstr. 11
8840 Einsiedeln

Attendance is free, but registration requested at info@bibliothek-oechslin.ch.

Download

Download the colloquium program as a PDF.

From my presentation, “Borromini and Guarini: The French Connection”

Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento

Book Launch: Proceedings of November 2016 Conference

Fortuna del barocco book launch invitation
As the work on the research project Antico / Moderno. Parigi, Roma, Torino 1680-1750 concludes, the second publication arising from the project will be presented at the Salone del Libro in Turin on 10 May at 16:30. Volume 2 in the series Quaderni di Ricerca of the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura collects the conference proceedings from the November 2016 conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento.

My contribution to the volume consists of a response to the talk by Joseph Connors entitled “Il barocco in Italia visto dall’estero. Le mostre di architettura.” View details of the other essays comprising the book in the table of contents. Looking forward to this volume documenting a very stimulating conference!

Publication

Di Macco, Michela, and Giuseppe Dardanello, editors. Fortuna del Barocco in Italia. Le grandi mostre del Novecento. Fondazione 1563, Quaderni di ricerca 2. Genoa: Sagep Editori, 2019.

Other news from the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura

● This is a great chance to note the new Summer School organized by the Fondazione 1563, entitled “Ripensare il Barocco (secoli XVII e XVIII). Nuove prospettive storico-critiche.” The Summer School takes place in Turin from 2-7 September 2019 and the deadline for applications is 31 May 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

● The Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e per la Cultura has also recently announced the seventh edition of its annual program of fellowships for postdocs or advanced doctoral candidates in baroque studies, Borse di alti studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco Intitolate a Rosaria Cigliano: VII Bando – Edizione 2019. The five annual fellowships support emerging scholars under the age of 35. The application deadline this year is 27 July 2019. For more information, see the call for applications in Italian or English.

Guarino Guarini Letterato

A Neglected Article by Martino Capucci

“Quel che si sa di Guarino Guarini architetto non è molto: ci sono le sue opere, non la sua figura intera. Manca ancora una monografia che dica non solo dell’artista, ma anche del trattatista d’architettura, del letterato, del matematico e filosofo farraginoso e dottissimo. … riteniamo opportuno ordinare quel che si sa su Guarini scrittore, delinearne gli essenziali aspetti; offrendo così qualche materiale che potra non essere inutile per lo storico dell’arte che voglia tenerne conto.”

From: Martino Capucci, “Guarino Guarini Letterato,” Lettere Italiane 8:1 (Gennaio-Marzo 1956): 75-82 [75].

The article cited above, by the late scholar of Italian literature Martino Capucci (1926-2013), recently surfaced in JSTOR – apparently the journal Lettere Italiane is a new addition to the repository’s invaluable resources. In the 1956 essay, Capucci called for an integrated approach to Guarino Guarini’s life and work, considering all of his activity – in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, and indeed literature – as inseparable from his architectural work. Capucci, who taught at the University of Bologna, surveyed all the writings of the Theatine architect, but then focused his attention on Guarini’s first publication, the play La pietà trionfante (Messina, 1660). Capucci situates the tragicomedy within the tradition of seventeenth-century Italian theater, succinctly and honestly assessing it from the point of view of italianistica. While Capucci finds the play of low literary quality, he nonetheless recognizes its value in reflecting the culture in which Guarini took part:

“In questo ‘maestro del barocco’ il fascino della cultura è straordinario e spesso soffocante, ma a noi non importano tanto i risultati quanto il desiderio di esperienza che sta alla radice di questa cultura; ed è qui, non in un rapporto esterno o magari deterministico, quel punto di contatto fra i due aspetti della personalità guariniana, che giustifica l’esame della sua attività di erudito, trattatista e scrittore da cui possiamo trarre maggior sicurezza nella valutazione dell’opera per la quale egli vive ancora.” [81-82]

To my knowledge, Capucci’s article has remained entirely unknown within the literature on Guarino Guarini. It is not included in any of the usual authoritative bibliographies on the Modenese Theatine. Yet Capucci’s essay coincided with the flowering of studies on Guarini and Piedmontese baroque architecture in the late 1950s through the 1960s, such as Paolo Portoghesi’s short monograph published the same year. Its omission can only be due to the disciplinary blinders that still plague Guarini research today. Few studies on Guarini make more than passing reference to La pietà trionfante, although a play based on it was produced in Modena in 2005, Le regole del cielo. Capucci’s article thus fills a notable gap in Guarini scholarship, providing important literary expertise to assist in our understanding of a figure who is fully comprehensible only through interdisciplinary efforts.

Consult “Guarino Guarini Letterato” by Martino Capucci at this JSTOR permalink. It deserves to be better known and to take its place within the standard literature on the architect.

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Further reading:

● Martino Capucci’s colleagues at the University of Bologna prepared this booklet as a memorial tribute following his death in 2013. The biographical essay includes an account of the genesis of Capucci’s early essay on Guarini.

● Download Guarini’s La pietà trionfante from the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense.

The Baroque Holy Ark of Trino Vercellese

Holy Ark of the Synagogue of Trino Vercellese, Piedmont, 1770s. Today in the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.
Source: Wikipedia [he.wikipedia.org] / User: Michaeli / © This image is copyrighted. The copyright holder allows everyone to use the image for any purpose provided that the copyright holder is properly credited.

This stunning ark, a fine example of Piedmontese baroque woodworking, was created for the synagogue in Trino Vercellese in the late eighteenth century. Portions of the synagogue were designed by the Turin court architect Benedetto Alfieri, although the name of the cabinetmaker responsible for the ark remains unknown. The ark features rich carving, faux marble, and gilded details, and the architectural scene on its doors alludes to the Temple of Jerusalem.

The synagogue in Trino was one of several built in Piedmont in the baroque era, including those in Casale Monferrato and Biella. Today, according to most sources, the synagogue in Trino has been secularized, and its contents dismantled in 1965.

In 1973, the holy ark was acquired by the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. There it was installed in a pavilion designed by the architect Werner Joseph Wittkower, the younger brother of the famous architectural historian Rudolf Wittkower, who was the leading international scholar of Piedmontese baroque art and architecture between 1945 and his death in 1971.

Around fifteen years ago, the museum undertook an extensive restoration of the ark. It was then reinstalled in the Ethnography and Folklore galleries of the museum in 2006-7, along with additional elements from the synagogue in Trino. As the Eretz Israel Museum website explains:

A Holy Ark, or Torah Shrine, as it was called by Italian Jews, complete with its original Torah lectern, worshipers’ benches, and the latticed railing from the women’s balcony, is situated in a separate hall built according to the original synagogue plans. The Baroque and Rococo style of the Ark is typical of the Piedmont district of northwestern Italy and represents an excellent example of the influence of local style on historical Jewish themes. The set of doors carved with architectural images symbolizing the Temple still to be built in Jerusalem is the highlight of the Ark, expressing the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish tradition.

The Holy Ark of Trino Vercellese stands as an impressive witness to the malleability of the baroque style, demonstrating how it could transcend the Catholic propaganda so often ascribed to it.

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In solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation, Pittsburgh. Stop the hate.

Cappella della Sindone Reopened

Guarino Guarini’s Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Turin, Restored


The Chapel of the Holy Shroud reopened this weekend after a decades-long restoration campaign. The chapel had first closed in May 1990 when a small piece of marble detached from a cornice and crashed to the floor. Repairs proceeded sporadically over the next several years. In April 1997, the restoration was nearly complete when a devastating fire hit the chapel. The wooden boards on some of the scaffolding caught fire, for reasons never fully determined. The great height of the chapel acted as a chimney to pull the flames upward and fan the fire. Although the marble could not burn, it cracked and changed color because of the intense heat. Splintered fragments of the originally black Frabosa marble fell to the pavement. As later emerged, the structure of the chapel and its dome were largely intact, but the subsequent restoration was fraught with conflicts, setbacks, and a lack of transparency. After multiple missed deadlines, the restoration is complete and the chapel accessible to visitors.

Position of the Cappella della Sindone between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Palazzo Reale, Turin

Located between the Cathedral of San Giovanni and the Royal Palace in Turin, access to the chapel was originally provided from both buildings. That meant that members of the Savoy dynasty could enter the chapel directly from the palace, but also that the faithful could enter from the cathedral, as well as view the chapel directly above and behind the high altar of the cathedral. During much of the twentieth century, though, visitors entered from the church side, via the stairways from the two doors flanking the high altar of the cathedral, while the palace doorway was rarely used. With the reopening, the chapel now forms part of the Musei Reali in the Royal Palace, and will be accessed from the palace side, with the cathedral doors closed. The shroud itself is now stored elsewhere.

The portals in the cathedral giving access to the stairways leading to the Shroud Chapel will now remain locked. Source: TripAdvisor

While the successfully completed restoration must be seen as a triumph – reinstating one of the most stupendous spaces in early modern European architecture – the incorporation of the chapel in a museum circuit is symptomatic for our age. Divorced from its relation to the church, devoid of the relic that originally prompted its construction, Guarini’s chapel has become yet another event for cultural tourism.

Beginning Tuesday, 2 October, the chapel may be visited as part of the a general admission ticket to the Musei Reali Torino.

 

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Further reading:

● The Art Newspaper provides a convenient English summary of the restoration campaign.

● John Beldon Scott’s 2003 book Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) remains essential reading for the historic background of the Shroud Chapel and the earlier repositories of the relic. See also my review of Scott in Annali di architettura 16 (2004).

● My other posts on the Shroud of Turin.

Still Essential: Tommaso Sandonnini on Guarino Guarini

Fundamental Study Available Open Access

Sandonnini Guarini

Tommaso Sandonnini, Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890).
Source: Internet Culturale

In 1890, the Modenese archivist Tommaso Sandonnini published a lengthy article on Guarino Guarini in the local history journal Atti e memorie delle RR. Deputazioni di storia patria per le provincie modenesi e parmensi. The text, entitled “Il padre Guarino Guarini modenese,” provided the first modern biography of the Theatine architect, an impartial account of his life based on archival sources. The same year, the study was issued as a stand-alone booklet (or offprint) of 54 pages, with a slightly altered title: Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890). The contents of the two versions are identical.

On the basis of the Modena archives, Sandonnini’s investigation traces Guarini’s family origins and youth in Modena up to the point he left for Rome in 1639 for his novitiate in the Theatine order at San Silvestro al Quirinale. Sandonnini resumes his narrative with Guarini’s return to Modena for ordination in 1647, and follows Guarini’s early years as a priest at San Vincenzo, Modena, through the 1650s. Sandonnini notes Guarini’s visit to his dying mother in summer 1662, and presents information regarding his time in Paris via letters from the Vigarani preserved in the Modena archives. The archivist publishes correspondence between Guarini and figures of the d’Este court during the 1670s and 1680s. Other sections of the study give an overview of Guarini’s published books and major architectural projects. Sandonnini fails to recognize Guarini’s role in the design of the Theatine casa of San Vincenzo in Modena, but he posits the Theatine’s involvement in campaigns at the Palazzo Ducale, Modena (a theory since viewed with scepticism). In any case, he avoids a judgmental assessment of the baroque architect, in marked contrast to most 19th-century writing on Guarini’s architectural work.

Tommaso Sandonnini (1849-1926) studied law and worked as a notary before becoming director of the Archivio Storico Comunale in Modena in 1897. In this capacity, he was active in archaeological and preservation efforts in the city, and wrote numerous studies on a range of historical topics, particularly those involving Modena.

An extensive review of Sandonnini’s study by Natale Baldoria appeared the same year in Archivio storico dell’arte 3 (1890): 221-23. Baldoria opens his essay with some historiographic reflections on the study of Baroque art and architecture (“Soltanto da poco tempo incomincia ad essere studiata senza preconcetti, obiettivamente, la Storia dell’arte… Così gli artisti e le opere di quell’epoca [barocco], che tanto contribuirono colle loro invenzioni anche al progresso dell’ arte moderna, sono degni di studio e tali che sarebbe delitto se la storia non li ricordasse o li spregiasse.”) He thus acknowledged the radical break of Sandonnini’s article with previous discussions of Guarini. Nearly seventy years later, in 1958, Wittkower still deemed Sandonnini’s Guarini “An important study.”

Today, another sixty years down the road, Sandonnini’s article remains as fundamental as ever. Along with the works of Alessandro Baudi di Vesme and Augusta Lange who explored the archives in Turin, it furnishes the essentail documentary basis for Guarini’s life and career.

Thanks to Italy’s wonderful Internet Culturale and the Biblioteca civica Ubaldo Mazzini in La Spezia, the booklet version of Sandonnini’s study is now available open access online, and may be downloaded as a PDF for non-commercial use.

Download

Tommaso Sandonnini, Del Padre Guarino Guarini, Chierico Regolare (Modena: Vincenzi e nipoti, 1890). [90 MB]

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On Sandonnini’s life and writings, see Giulio Bertoni, “Tommaso Sandonnini, 1849-1926” and Giovanni Canevazzi, “Bibliografia di Tommaso Sandonnini,” Atti e memorie della R. Deputazione di storia patria per le provincie modenesi, Ser. 7, vol. 5 (1928): 7-28 and 29-42.

A Summer Evening at Racconigi

On hot summer days, one longs for the cooler hours from dusk to dawn. Guarino Guarini had this in mind when planning the country estate of Racconigi (1676ff.), south of Turin, for his patron Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Carignano.

A few years before Guarini began work at the site, the prince had commissioned the French landscape architect André Le Nôtre to design the extensive gardens on the estate grounds.

Guarini’s main contribution to the complex was his project for remodeling the estate’s medieval castello into a baroque palace, of which only the tract along the garden facade was completed. But the architect also provided other designs for the estate and the adjacent town. One such project was a garden pavilion for the Racconigi grounds, which Guarini used to illustrate a passage about “oblique” architecture in his treatise Architettura civile (published posthumously in 1737). Guarini described the garden pavilion – reproduced above – as:

“…un Casino, o Pinacolo per un Giardino per ritirarli nella State, e massime sulla sera a cena fatto pel Serenissimo Principe di Carignano nel Giardino deliziosissimo, e vastissimo di Racconigi…”

that is:

“…a casino, or gazebo for a garden, to withdraw to in the summer, especially for dinner in the evenings, made for the most serene Prince of Carignano in the delightful and vast garden of Racconigi…”

The text passage refers to the upper image (elevation) on the plate reproduced above, and some of the partial plans on the right of the plate. The lower image (section) is for a different, unidentified design, discussed in the second “Osservazione” of the treatise chapter. The exact position of the Racconigi casino in the park of the castello remains unknown, as do the details of its construction, whether of stone, wood, or brick. Any traces of it must have vanished when the gardens were redesigned in the late eighteenth century and again in the nineteenth century.

The gazebo would have furnished a splendid setting for summer dinner parties in the cool of the evening, with provisions ferried from the kitchens in the main house, or perhaps prepared outdoors. But these delights were reserved for a select few: the prince and his invited guests.

The Racconigi gardens are open to the public today, but only until 7 pm. They feature a bird sanctuary with wetlands for storks and ducks – and some of the storks nest right on top of the castello! Even if you can’t dine in the gardens, it is a refreshing place to spend a summer day.

Links:

Castello di Racconigi (official website)

Castello di Racconigi (page for Racconigi on the Royal Residences of Piedmont website, in English)

Centro Cicogne e Anatidi, Racconigi (bird sanctuary)

● Click on the Google Map below and use Street View to enjoy a virtual stroll through the Racconigi grounds.

Rosaria Cigliano Fellowship Program

Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque, 2018 Edition

Once again, I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. This year, the fellowship program has been renamed in memory of the late president of the Fondazione 1563, Rosaria Cigliano, who died in December 2017. The topic for the 2018 edition is “Landscape and Nature (1680-1750).” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

* * *

The Rosaria Cigliano Fellowship Program aims to assign individual fellowships to promote original studies on the Age of Baroque, also in an international comparative perspective.

Research proposals for the 2018 call will need to pertain to the following theme:

Landscape and Nature (1680-1750)
A fundamental indicator of the variation of cultural aspirations between the late Seventeenth and the mid-Eighteenth century is the representation of the natural world and the landscape. The Seicento is the century of scientific breakthroughs and sees the formulation of new theoretical canons of representation of nature, through a doctrine that aims to amend natural features and thus to improve on them. As modernity gains momentum, in the Eighteenth century nature reclaims its centrality and authoritativeness with a great variety of outcomes in the European centers of literary, philosophical, artistic, musical, and architectural production, where the new priorities combine, connect, mitigate and find liberation from the sedimentation of earlier traditions.

The competition is open to researchers born after 1st January 1983 holding a university or master’s degree, or other equivalent degrees, issued by an Italian or equivalent foreign University.

Priority will be given to applicants holding a PhD or equivalent from an Italian or foreign university.

Applications will be submitted exclusively using the forms available online and following the procedure indicated on the Foundation’s website under Chi siamo/Bandi/Procedure in corso/Borse di Alti Studi 2018 at www.fondazione1563.it.

Applications must be submitted by 22 July 2018 at h 24.00 (midnight).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

Deadline 22 July 2018

Guarini – Saarinen?

The Church of the Immacolata Concezione, Turin, and Modernism

In a December 2009 review of an exhibition on Eero Saarinen published in the Brooklyn Rail, the art critic Joseph Masheck wrote about the relation of certain aspects of modernism to the twentieth-century “rediscovery of the Baroque.” Mascheck, who was awarded the 2018 Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art by the College Art Association last week, specifically compared Saarinen’s forms with those of Guarino Guarini:

The Finnish-American Saarinen (1910-1961) is not unfamiliar in this context, if only owing to those who seem to think that the TWA Terminal (1958-62) at what is now John F. Kennedy International Airport must not be modernist because modernism means rectilinearity, and even they can see that this building is as curvy as Gina Lollobrigida.

“when I teach the building I show the similarity of its ground plan to the interpenetrating lobes of the plan of Guarino Guarini’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, Turin”

Surely a main spiritual “function” of the building was to coddle against Reisefieber the many travelers who some fifty years ago were waiting to take their first flight. Well, who said modernism can’t be polymorphous perverse! Actually, I’ve always thought that building had vital entailments, not only in regard to contemporary art—notably the Louisiana-born, ever-verging-on-tacky José de Rivera (1904-1985), whose curvaceous, revolving polished chrome sculptures are rather embarrassingly coincident with Saarinen’s forms, if not his saving amplitude—but also to art history. Ever since it was new it has seemed to me that the voluptuousness of its modernism, following upon Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel (1950-55), related just as vitally to the rediscovery of the Baroque, of which 18th-century rationalists had, one thought, definitively disposed. To this day, when I teach the building I show the similarity of its ground plan to the interpenetrating lobes of the plan of Guarino Guarini’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, Turin, of 1672-97, which was popularly accessible at the time of the terminal’s construction through Henry A. Millon’s still fascinating Baroque and Rococo Architecture (Braziller, 1961).

In fact, Millon deemed the Immacolata Concezione “Guarini’s most influential church design,” referring to its progeny in the eighteenth-century German-speaking regions. “The space, although violently shaped,” he noted, “is not interrupted but merges into an incredibly dynamic and expressive entity.” The same could also be said of Saarinen’s TWA terminal. Even more than the ground plan, Saarinen’s roof recalls Guarini’s vault – pinched and depressed in the center, and billowing upward as it expands at either end.

The Immacolata Concezione – technically only attributed to Guarini, but convincingly so – was not widely known before its appearance in Millon’s Baroque and Rococo Architecture. Notably, it did not feature in Rudolf Wittkower’s Pelican survey Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750 (1958). While planning for the TWA terminal began well before the publication of Millon’s text, leaving any causal connection between the flight center and the Turinese church largely speculative, Guarini’s design clearly intrigued another prominent architect of the 1960s. Robert Venturi went on to include the Immacolata Concezione in his Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), where it was the only building by Guarini represented. Venturi characterized the church as “a duality in plan and yet a unity,” citing Millon’s textbook as the source for his illustration. As part of Venturi’s influential book, the church entered the standard historical repertoire of late modernism and nascent postmodernism.

Further Reading:

Chiesa della Immacolata Concezione on the Città e Cattedrali website.

Chiesa della Immacolata Concezione on the Museo Torino website.

Immacolata Concezione as part of the “Documentazione Chiese Storiche” on the website of the Associazione Guarino Guarini.

Photo gallery of the church, on the website of Studio di Architettura Momo, responsible for restoration of the facade in 2006.

● Henry A. Millon, Baroque and Rococo Architecture (New York: George Braziller, 1961). [On the Immacolata Concezione, see pp. 22-23.]

● Luciano Tamburini, Le chiese di Torino: dal Rinascimento al Barocco, 2nd ed. (Turin: Edizioni Angolo Manzoni, 2002): 269-278.

● Henry A. Millon, “La chiesa dell’Immacolata Concezione a Torino,” in G. Dardanello, S. Klaiber, H. A. Millon, eds., Guarino Guarini (Turin: U. Allemandi,2006): 365-375.