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 thousands of 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, proved prescient in its ties to current issues 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. This ground-breaking exhibition represents the largest collection of original works by Soleri 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.
The exhibition also investigates 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. It will also be the first to contextualize the artisan craft program that continues to underwrite the expenses of maintaining Cosanti and Arcosanti—two experimental communities Soleri built in the Arizona desert.
In celebration of the exhibition, SMoCA is publishing Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature a large-format, hardcover, illustrated catalog authored by Claire C. Carter with essays by Larry Busbea, Garth Johnson, and Jonathon Keats. It will be available October 13, 2017 at the exhibition’s opening reception.
Organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sponsored by Billie Jo and Judd Herberger; Tamar Weiss, in memory of her husband, Emil Weiss; Carrie Lynn Richardson and Paul Giancola; and an anonymous donor. Generous support for the exhibition catalogue is provided by the J. W. Kieckhefer Foundation.