Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature - Organized by SMoCA Curator of Contemporary Art Claire C. Carter

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has announced an October event, unveiling a groundbreaking and unprecedented retrospective of seminal Italian-born American artist and architect, Paolo Soleri.

The City is Nature spans the breadth of Soleri’s ideas and practice, bringing together elements from his built and unbuilt residences, bridges, dams, cities and transportation systems. In addition to original drawings, models and sketchbooks, the exhibition surveys the artist’s earliest ceramic and bronze artisan crafts, as well as fabric designs and silkscreens. It also investigates Soleri’s personal engagement with the art and architecture of his time, his relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright, his influence on the American counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and his impact on two generations of American architects and artists.

Paolo Soleri, Mesa City, Arts + Crafts Villages C-D, 1961. Charcoal, ink and pastel on paper, 48 x 212 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation, C103 CC.
Paolo Soleri, Mesa City, Arts + Crafts Villages C-D, 1961. Charcoal, ink and pastel on paper, 48 x 212 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation, C103 CC. © Cosanti Foundation

This ground-breaking exhibition represents the largest collection of original drawings, fragile sketchbooks, architectural models, sculptures, prints and photographs presented in North America since 1971. Large scroll drawings—some over 30 feet long—will be presented for the first time since their conservation in 2005. Finally, experiential multimedia content will introduce visitors to the experimental communities Soleri founded in Arizona—Cosanti and Arcosanti. focuses on drawings, sculptures and models that Mr. Soleri produced during the richest years of his artistic evolution — from 1947 until the mid-1970s, according to a press release.

The selected works represent Mr. Soleri’s most creative moments when he was making his artwork and constructing his home-studio, primarily with his own hands. The exhibition brings together elements from his built and unbuilt residences, bridges, dams, cities and transportation systems.

In addition to original drawings, models and sketchbooks, the exhibition surveys the artist’s earliest ceramic and bronze artisan crafts, as well as fabric designs and silkscreens.

It also investigates Mr. Soleri’s personal engagement with the art and architecture of his time; the widespread recognition of his work by museums, scholars and curators; his relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright; and his influence on the American counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.

“The Museum is very excited about this retrospective,” said SMoCA Director and Chief Curator Sara Cochran, Ph.D., in the press release.1

“It represents the culmination of SMoCA’s three exhibitions series with Paolo Soleri and the Cosanti Foundation, and almost a decade of engagement with, and study of, Soleri’s work, ideas, models and practices. It has been a joy to have the opportunity to work with Soleri during his lifetime and to publish this comprehensive catalog that we believe will add to the scholarship around this visionary thinker now that he has passed. We look forward to seeing ever more interest and study of this compelling figure who pioneered so many ideas, including the idea of high-density living, and who built some of the icons in the Arizona landscape.”

....

  • 1. In October 2017, SMoCA will unveil an unprecedented retrospective of seminal American artist and architect Paolo Soleri (1919 – 2013). Over his sixty-year career, Soleri explored countless possibilities for the urban built environment in drawings, architectural models, sketchbooks, sculptures, prints and photographs. His pioneering idea “arcology,” or the fusion of architecture and ecology, was revolutionary in the 1940s. It remains fundamentally tied to today’s pressing debates about sustainable cities, suburban sprawl, climate change, renewable energy and water shortages.