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Giovannoni, Gustavo

    Image Credit: Wikidata

    Full Name: Giovannoni, Gustavo

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1873

    Date Died: 1947

    Place Born: Rome, Lazio, Italy

    Place Died: Rome, Lazio, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), documentary (general concept), sculpture (visual works), and urban planning


    Documentary architectural historian, architect, and urban planner. After graduating in civil engineering from the University of Rome in 1895, Giovannoni took a degree in public health before studying art and architectural history in Rome under Adolfo Venturi. In 1899 he was appointed assistant under Guglielmo Calderini (1837-1916) in the Engineering School and in 1905 professor of general architecture. A strong technical as well as art-historical interest took him into the conservation field and projects for urban redevelopment. In 1910 he became president of the Associazione Artistica tra i Cultori dell’ Architettura (AACA), founded in Rome in 1890 with the aim of extending the awareness of the historic and artistic heritage and to promote conservation initiatives. This aspect of his career is reflected in such early schemes as that for the Caprera quarter of Rome (1907-1911), which overlapped with his work for the Peroni brewery, a factory (1909) and a company headquarters (1913), putting into practice his belief in the architetto integrale, able to encompass both artistic and technical skills. In 1911 Giovannoni was a member of the staff for the creation of the ethnographic pavilions of the Exhibition in Rome. In 1913 Giovannoni published his most important essay “Città vecchia ed edilizia nuova” where underlining the diversity of the historical city centre that for structural and social reasons cannot effectively comfort to the modern city. Giovannoni was interested in valorizing national patrimony as the key component to the industry of tourism. His research interests focused on the work of the Italian Renaissance architect Antonio da Sangallo, who himself combined careful archaeological knowledge with architectural skills. This Renaissance concept of the architect inspired Giovannoni’s approach to architectural pedagogy. In 1918, through the AACA, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Scuola Superiore di Architettura and eventually the new Istituto Universitaria where he lectured in the restoration of historic monuments. In 1921 Giovannoni became the editor with the architect Marcello Piacentini (1881-1960) of the journal Architettura e Arti, the official organ of the Associazione artistica fra i cultori di architettura. In the same year Giovannoni with Piacentini and the architect Vittorio Ballio Morpugno curated the “Mostra d’arte rustica”. Giovannoni summed up the operative aims of the exhibition in some letters to the Trieste-based architect Camillo Jona (1886-1974). Giovannoni was appointed Dean of the Scuola Superiore di Architettura from 1931 to 1935. He and Venturi wrote an important text on the theory of architecture, Sul metodo della storia dell’architettura, in 1938. He died at the age of 74 in Rome, 15 July 1947. His students at the University of Rome included Roberto Pane. Giovannoni’s colleagues included the American archaeologist William H. Goodyear. His scholarship influenced the art historian Mario Salmi and the art historian Federico Hermanin (1871-1953), a member of the Amministrazione delle Belle Arti of Rome Guglielmo De Angelis D’Ossat, dedicated obituaries and essays in his memory. Giovannoni wrote numerous articles and books in which discussed themes ranging from urbanism to art history, especially art connected with architecture. He wrote essays in Italian art journals including Palladio, (of which he was also an editorial board member), and Annali d’ingegneria e d’architettura, Bollettino d’arte del Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, L’Arte Rassegna d’arte antica e moderna. Giovannoni’s writings on art and architecture theory, and his historical research were highly influential on his and the ensuing generations of architecture historians.

    Selected Bibliography

    “Building and Engineering.” in, Bailey, Cyril. The Legacy of Rome, Essays by C. Foligno [and others]. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1923; essay expanded as, La tecnica della costruzione presso i Romani. Rome: Società editrice d’arte illustrata, 1925?; Note sui marmorari romani. Rome: R. Società Romana di Storia Patria, 1904. La sala termale della Villa Liciniana e le cupole romane . Rome: Stabilimento Tipo-Litografico del Genio Civile, 1904. Attraverso la storia dell’architettura: note bibliografiche. Rome: Battarelli, 1913. Il rinnovamento della falconatura nella facciata del Duomo di Milano. Milan: Tipo-Litografico del Genio Civile, 1916. Gli architetti e gli studi di architettura in Italia, Associazione Artistica fra i Cultori d’Architettura Questioni di architettura nella storia e nella vita : edilizia, estetica architettonica, restauri, ambiente dei monumenti. Rome: Società Editrice d’Arte Illustrata, 1925. La tecnica della costruzione presso i Romani. Rome: Società Editrice d’Arte Illustrata, 1928. La Reale Insigne Accademia di San Luca nella inaugurazione della sua nuova sede. Rome: Castaldi, 1934. L‘architettura del Rinascimento..Milan: Treves, 1935. La nuova legge sulla difesa delle bellezze naturali. Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1940. Spigolature nell’Archivio di S. Pietro in Vaticano. Rome: Istituto di Studi Romani, 1941. La cupola di S. Pietro. Rome: Reale Istituto di Studi Romani, 1942. La Reale Insigne Accademia di S. Luca. Rome: Reale Istituto di Studi Romani, 1945. L‘abbazia di Montecassino . Florence: Electa, 1947.


    mentioned, Ackerman, James S. “In Memoriam: Manfredo Tafuri, 1935-1994.” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 53, no. 2 (June 1994): 137; Hermanin, Federico. “Gustavo Giovannoni” in Bollettino del Centro di Studi per la Storia dell’Architettura. 5.1947, pp. 1-2; De Angelis d’Ossat, Guglielmo. Gustavo Giovannoni, storico e critico dell’architettura: (con l’elenco delle sue pubblicazioni). Rome: Istituto di Studi Romani Ed., 1949; Salmi, Mario. “Commemorazione di Gustavo Giovannoni” in Atti del V Convegno Nazionale di Storia dell’Architettura. Florence: Noccioli, 1957, pp. 1-10 Curun, Alessandro. Riordino delle carte di Gustavo Giovannoni: appunti per una biografia. Rome: Multigrafica Editrice, 1979; Giavarina, Adriano Ghisetti. “Pane, Roberto.” The Dictionary of Art 24: 2; Marcucci, Laura. “Gustavo Giovannoni inediti e ricerche: nota introduttiva.” in Gustavo Giovannoni: riflessioni agli albori del XXI secolo. Rome: Bonsignori, 2005, pp. 87-88; Berta, Barbara. “Gustavo Giovannoni: un metodo per la storia dell’architettura” in Storia dell’arte e storia dell’architettura: un dialogo difficile. San Casciano (FI): Libro Co., 2007, pp. 21-22.

    Contributors: Giulia Savio


    Giulia Savio. "Giovannoni, Gustavo." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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