Landscape and garden in the work of Carlo Scarpa

George Peter Dodds, University of Pennsylvania


Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978) designed some of the most important landscapes and gardens in Italy after the Second World War. These works constitute an important yet unexamined part of his oeuvre. Among these are the first public sculpture garden in Italy, designed for the Venice Biennale, and gardens for the Fondazione Querini-Stampalia, the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, and the Brion family sanctuary in San Vito di Altivole. The gardens Scarpa designed evince a wide range of sources, from Persian Paradise Gardens, the gardens of classical China and Japan, and the garden culture of Venice and the Veneto. The Venetian traditions that informed Scarpa's work include the images of idealized landscapes produced by the Venetian School of Renaissance painting and the techniques by which those paintings were produced. Scarpa's design work also was located within tradition of architectural production in which architecture and landscape are understood as differences of degree rather than kind. This paradigm took shape in the 18th-century Europe—particularly in France and England—when paintings of landscapes, physical landscapes, and buildings were all considered as extensions of a similar ideal, the Picturesque. Gio Ponti gave voice to this notion in post-war Italy, calling it the “landscape genesis of architecture.” Scarpa's work as a designer of landscapes and gardens was largely informed by his work as an exhibition designer. Consequently, the theme of “directed vision” is key to understanding not only his exhibition and museological work, but his landscapes and gardens as well. The physical landscape of the Veneto represented, for Scarpa, a repository of idealized moments, lost in the dross of post-war development. Whenever the opportunity arose, Scarpa framed these extant details through the scopic manipulation of architecture, garden, and viewer.

Subject Area

Architecture|Landscaping|Art History

Recommended Citation

Dodds, George Peter, "Landscape and garden in the work of Carlo Scarpa" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9965470.