upcoming Exhibition

    Artist Unknown, [Soleri Sketching at His Desk, Cosanti], c. 1960. Gelatin-silver print, 10 x 8 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation. © Cosanti Foundation

    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

    Paolo Soleri, Mesa City Research Dam, c. 1960. Plaster, silt and adhesive, 56 x 28 x 42 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation, Model-058. © Cosanti Foundation

    Left: Paolo Soleri, Babel Canyon, 1969. Acrylic and adhesive, 48 x 47 x 47 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation, Model-012. Right: Paolo Soleri, Babel Canyon, Plans, Section, Perspective Views, 1968 – 70. Ink on vellum, 30 x 35 1/8 inches. Collection of the Cosanti Foundation, ACIM038. Both images © Cosanti Foundation

Paolo Soleri: The City is Nature

October 14, 2017 – January 28, 2018


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.

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.

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.



Organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Generous support for the exhibition catalogue provided by the J.W. Keickhefer Foundation.