Carlo Scarpa Biography

Carlo Scarpa
Carlo Scarpa
Classic Designs » Designers » Carlo Scarpa Biography

Carlo Scarpa Venice (1906 – Sendai 1978)

Carlo Scarpa grew up in Venice in the company of the artists and intellectuals he encountered at the Biennale and the Accademia di Belle Arti where he obtained his diploma in 1926.

From 1933 to 1947 he acted as artistic consultant to the glass makers Venini of Venice where he designed some of the most original and fascinating glass pieces ever to grace the history of this art.

It was here that his interest in oriental art and the plastic and applied arts began develop as did the special influence on him of the Viennese Secession (Hoffmann, Loos, Wagner) and later the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

He first teaching experience at the Venice University of Architecture was in 1926 and he was full professor there from 1964 to 1976 and Chancellor in the years 1972 to 1974. Scarpa’s time at the University contributed to the formation of several generations of architects.

He had a long association with the Venice Biennale that started in 1948 with his project for the Paul Klee retrospective.

Scarpa’s work included the settings for many elegant temporary art and museum exhibitions, including for the Gallerie dell’Accademia, the Corer Museum and Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice, Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo and the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona.

He made unique use of materials and colour in these works, characterised particularly by his mastery of the use of light.

It was for these projects that Carlo Scarpa obtained his greatest general recognition, including the 1956 Olivetti prize, the Gran Premio for the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition at the 12th Milan Triennale in 1960 and the IN-ARCH prize in 1962 for the Palazzo Abatellis museum project in Palermo.

Of his architectural works the most memorable include the Antonio Canova ‘gipsoteca’ or plaster cast gallery in Possagno (1955-1957), the Olivetti store in Venice (1957-1958), villa Veritti in Udine (1955-1961), the Ottolenghi house in Bardolino (1974-1978), the offices of the Banca Popolare di Verona (1973- 1978) and the Brion cemetery at San Vito di Altivole (1969-1978).

Carlo Scarpa worked on a great many projects, many of which were never realised but there is a record of these in the drawings numbering over twenty thousand in the Carlo Scarpa archive in Trevignano (Treviso).

From 1972 to 1978 he did some important work alongside Dino Gavina in the field of design (the Valmarana, Doge, Orseolo, Sarpi and Delfi tables; the Toledo bed; the Rialto bookcase and silverware).

Scarpa showed his work in many one-man exhibitions in Italy (Venice 1968, Vicenza 1974) and abroad (New York, the Museum of Modern Art 1966, London and Paris 1974, Madrid 1978).

He was awarded an honorary degree in architecture in 1978.

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Written by Simon
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. I have life long interest in creative design, art and function and this website is an exploration of that in all its forms and guises.