Josef Frank interprete di Leon Battista Alberti

The exhibition "Josef Frank interprete di Leon Battista Alberti", curated by Caterina Cardamone and Francesco Dal Co, displays Frank's drawings and researches on Leon Battista Alberti.. To conduct his researches, he travelled extensively throughout Italy, where he studied, analysed and finally drew Alberti's buildings in Firenze, Mantova and Rimini. Frank's research work included twenty ink and wash representations of Alberti's churches, coloured and strongly centred upon the relationship between chromatism and architecture.

Josef Frank (Baden bei-Wien, 1885 – Stockholm, 1967) was an Austrian architect, artist and designer. He studied architecture at the Vienna Technische Hochschule, where he was strongly influenced by Carl König's and his researches on classical and Renaissance architecture, and by the lively debate on architectural modernism. His own particular view brought him to call into question the leading ideals. He proposed different solutions, distant from standardisation and guided by his firm belief in an architecture rooted in tradition, comfort, everyday needs for spaces, supporting handicraft, art and individual, yet contemporary, designs. He designed building blocks to solve housing shortages in Wien, and later collaborated to the construction of the Austrian Werkbund in the 1930s, while also founding with partners the house designing and furnishing business Haus&Garten. In 1933, he emigrated to Sweden, where he developed renowned textiles, furniture and objects for the design company Svenskt Tenn, still guided by the same principles of comfort and originality that shaped his architectures.

Curators' biographies

Caterina Cardamone graduated in Architecture from Università di Firenze, where she obtained a PhD in History of Architecture in 2002, with a dissertation about Josef Frank and his relationships with Classic and Renaissance architecture. From 2011 to 2016 she has been Adjunct Professor at Université Catholique of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. She is currently indipendent scholar.

Francesco Dal Co, architectural historian, is Professor Emeritus at IUAV in Venice.  He has been Professor of History of Architecture at Yale School of Architecture from 1982 to 1991 and at the Accademia di Architettura of the Università della Svizzera Italiana from 1996 to 2005. Moreover, from 1988 to 1991, he has been Director of the Architectural Section at the Biennale di Venezia. Since 1978, he has been curator of the architectural publications for Electa and, since 1996, Director of the magazine Casabella.

He is Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, Scholar at the Getty Center and member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians and member of the Accademia di San Luca.

Selected bibliography

Frank, Josef. Über die ursprüngliche Gestalt der kirchlichen Bauten des Leone Battista Alberti. PhD Dissertation, Technische Hochschule Wien, 1910.

Cardamone, Caterina. "Frank and Alberti. The Reception of De re aedificatoria in Josef Frank's Writings". In Josef Frank: Against Design. The Architect's Anti-Formalist Oeuvre, ed. by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein et al., 30-39. Wien: MAK; Basel: Birkhäuser 2016.

Cardamone, Caterina. "Josef Frank and the history of architecture: Gothic and the Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti and Albrecht Dürer in architectural discourse on Neues Bauen at the beginning of the 1930s". Journal of art historiography 14 (2016).