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Banham, Reyner. Neoliberty. The Italian Retreat from Modern Architecture, in: The Architectural Review, 747, April 1959, S. 231-35

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Reyner Banham

THE

RETREAT

MODERN ARCHITECTURE

The present b d i n g turn taken by Milanese and Tonnese architecture probably appears the more baBing to ourselves, viewing it from the wrong side of the Alps, because of the irrelevant hopes, the non-Italian aspirations of our own, that we have tended to project on Italiau architecture since the war. Without realizing what we were doing, we built up a mythical architecture that we would like to see in Our own countries, an architecture of social responsibility-stemming, we believed, from such political martyrs as Persioo, Banfi, the younger Labo-and of formal architectonic purity-sternming from Lingeri, Figini, Terragni. This architecture, sociaiiy and aestheticaiiy acceptable to men of goodwill, we saw embodied in particular in the Milanese BBPR partnership, of which the first 3 was the martyre. Banfi, the terminal R was Ernesto Rogers, the hero-figure of European architecture in the late Forties and early Fifties. The evidence of the eyes often contradicted the myth; again and again the architectonic qualities that we sought were to be fomd in work of the Roman school, notably (and surprisingly) in the work of Moretti, whom the Milanese would bmsh off as 'not socially serious' while the awkward questions of modern eclecticism r a i d by the work of Luigi Vagnetti had a way of being unformulable except in tems that put Milan on the spot as well. Nevertheless, Our hopes continued to reside in Milan, in the Triennale, in QT8, in the Compasso d'Oro, in Communità, in Domus and, even more, in Casabella Continuità, Persico's famous magazine of the Thirties revived under Rogers's editorship. But when Cusabella began to pubiish, with manifest editorial approvai, buildings that went far beyond Vagnetti's in historicist eclecticism, when the BBPR partnership staged

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