Influences in Aldo Rossi’s drawing: killing the father | Borja López Cotelo

Aldo Rossi’s sketches

Often the time dilutes the certainty. Aldo Rossi emerged in the second half of the 20th century as the man called to illuminate a generation in the shade of the modernity. Precocious iconoclast in his revisionist offer of the contemporary urbanism, many they were thinking about seeing in his theory the way to continuing in the definition of a new architecture. His postulates on the value of the inherited thing or the capacity semiológica from the form, his critique to ‘ funcionalismo ingenuous ‘ or his firm defense of the specificity of the discipline, sedujeron to his contemporaries with the same intensity that his constructed work it condemned before the new generations.

But few ones doubt still today the capacity of suggestion of his drawings. His buildings transmit, in occasions, an apathetic distance with regard to whom it looks at them and, in others, an almost infantile will to communicate the obsessions of the one who has conceived them. Rossi bequeathed the hieratismo of San Cataldo’s cemetery and the formal naiveté of the Theatre of the Bare one.

His drawings, nevertheless, are capable of evoking visions removed of an extraordinarily dense reality. It was drawing his recollections and desires, was inventorying them in catalogues of images that it was calling ‘objects of affection’ 1: industrial chimneys, housings diminished to skeletons extracted from his infancy padana, enormous frontons that it had recognized along his life in theatres or sheds of beach, props that were suggesting constructions palafíticas of the Adriatic Sea. They all were reappearing in an obsessive way in Rossi’s notebooks a long before materializing in Gallaratese, Broni or Segrate.

These sketches undress the Milanese architect and show it as a permeable man to other arts and other times. Up to his planes Boullée’s influence filters, in the same way that his drawings reveal his fascination for the De Chirico´s painting.

Aldo Rossi’s sketches

Rossi never accepted it. The only link that it was recognizing with Boullée was to have been responsible for the translation of his works2. But the sections that he presented to the contest of Módena’s Cemetery, realized in 1971, pledge in taking the opposite one to him. It is difficult not to see in them the inheritance of the architectures that, two centuries before, Boullée had drawn. Only this way there is understood his constructive lack of definition, his geometric rotundity or the solidity of the brave shades.

Étienne-Louis Boullée’s cenotaph, s. The XVIIIth | Modena’s Cemetery, 1972. A. Rossi and G. Braghieri

The painting always had fascinated Aldo Rossi. In his ‘Scientific Autobiography  it indicates certain works of Angelo Morbelli or Antonello da Messina as inspiration of his architecture. But in this painters’ relation, the most showy thing is the omission of the one who seems to have had a more determinant influence, Giorgio de Chirico.

His scenes in which elongated shades and intense colors suggest a permanent west, his buildings based on the sequential repetition of windows and props, his alterations of the perspective removed from the Renaissance composition, seem to have determined the way of seeing Rossi’s world and, in last instance, his way of doing architecture. The link becomes furthermore evident when the Milanese architect draws sceneries populated by manikins, inanimate beings between the subject and the object that they had characterized Giorgio de Chirico’s work. Nevertheless, Rossi seemed to be commited not only in killing the father, but in doing it without leaving fingerprints.

G. de Chirico.’s pictures | Aldo Rossi’s Drawings

Corbusier does not distinguish in the drawing of the Italian architect any kinship with Him, with his serrated line inheritor of the cubism. Neither neither with the extraordinary drawings of Louis Kahn or Alvar Aalto, nor with the precise perspectives of Mies van der Rohe. His will of withdrawal of the modern orthodoxy seems to have begun with the drawing. Probably because of it, in his years of student in the Technical one of Milan, the teacher Sabbioni the abandon of the career recommended to him3. Rossi not only decided to continue, but always it seemed to long for the infamy of these inaccurate sketches: ‘…today I try to recover that happiness of the drawing confused with the lack of skill and the stupidity…4.

Borja López Cotelo. Doctor architect

A Coruña. february 2011


1 Rossi, Aldo ‘La Arquitectura Análoga’, en 2C num.2, 1975. pp. 8-11

2 Rossi, Aldo ‘Autobiografía Científica’, p.24 (Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1981)

3 Rossi, Aldo ‘Autobiografía Científica’, p.50 (Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1981)

4 Rossi, Aldo ‘Autobiografía Científica’, p.50 (Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1981)

4 Rossi, Aldo ‘Autobiografía Científica’, p.50 (Ed. Gustavo Gili, 1981)

Borja López Cotelo

Borja López Cotelo, arquitecto por la ETSAC desde 2007, y doctor por la UdC desde 2013.

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