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The Udine Regional Exhibition of 1903

The Udine Regional Exhibition of 1903


The 1903 Udine Regional Exhibition did not enjoy the notoriety of the 1902 Turin Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art, which established Italy's adherence to the Art Nouveau movement and the international prominence of Raimondo D’Aronco, author of the exhibition pavilions. On the other hand, the architect considered the boards prepared for the Udine exhibition “as the most serious and complete study he had ever made”.

There are no breaks between the projects of the two exhibitions, as reordering the sequence chronologically, including variants, the evolutionary path of his architectural language can be pieced together, and D’Aronco’s statement about the conclusion of the two-year research project, carried out between April 1901 and February 1903, might be shared.

The distance travelled can be seen by comparing the pavilions designed for the “Rita 2” project that won the competition in Turin and the Concert Tent designed for Udine, where the expressive autonomy is proportional to the emancipation of the reference models, which historiographers almost unanimously identify in the Viennese school.

The works for the Udine Exhibition began in August 1902, as soon as D’Aronco received from his correspondent, engineer Giobatta Cantarutti, the programme and the plan for the Exhibition in an area between Palazzo degli studi and the old hospital building.

In Udine, he oriented his expressive research on certain themes that would later be developed in other projects. In particular, he devoted himself to elaborating the triangular scheme, whether in the form of gabled façades - the Fine Arts Pavilion, - or tympanum-shaped - the Labour Gallery - sometimes in the curvilinear version - the Sports Pavilion - or in the sloping pitched roofs - the Café on the Lake – as well as in the decorative scores - the Concert Tent -. The numerous boards illustrating the decorations, both ornamental and constructive details, with their sumptuous range of colours, document the author's extraordinary imaginative creativity: “The style I wanted to deal with in that project, was not to be in common with the ancient ones, less so than the buildings of the Turin Exhibition, where traces of the architecture of the past could still be found here and there. Thus, no familiar features for the audience, no columns, no trabeation, no gables or other useless objects, like notches, triglyphs, palmettes, etc.. I wanted a simple and majestic line that clearly determined the shape and use of the building”.

D’Aronco illustrates the innovative dimension of the project for Udine, which he says to be more powerful than that of Turin, because the architectural language - whose guidelines he reveals - has cut off all reference to the past, creating a vocabulary of simple and majestic lines. He makes an appeal to an aesthetic functionality, to that union so close to Wagner’s heart of technique and art that is indispensable for modern construction in the age of new materials.

Many projects were not realised, but the different studies and drawings produced originated from possibilities for expressive research that he had glimpsed: “I want to touch the most different subjects and prove that everything can be done anew without repeating itself and that everything is suitable for a more or less sumptuous artistic form, depending on the importance of the thing, but always sincere”.