Arcosanti - An Urban Laboratory in the Arizona Desert.


June 14. 2017

On Monday, June 5. 2017, a crew from the Smoca Museum came to pick up all of the exhibition items.

[photo by lvb]

The exhibition "Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature" opens on October 14. 2017 and runs through January 28. 2018 at the SMOCA Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, located at 7380 East 2nd Street, Scottsdale, AZ.

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

Some of the drawings will be framed, others will be displayed in vitrines.

Many drawings, five scroll drawings and two of the metal-bound sketchbooks will be part of the exhbition.

[photo by lvb]

A small Soleri Voyage Journal from 1946 will be on view. This depicts part of Soleri's original travel from Italy in 1946 to join Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin.

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

We very much look forward to this exhibition. Smoca curator Claire Carter has worked very hard to put together beautiful selection.

June 12. 2017

The Soleri archive crew has been working on preparation for another exhibition.

The exhibition "Paolo Soleri: The City is Nature" opens on October 14. 2017 and runs through January 28. 2018 at the SMOCA Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, located at 7380 East 2nd Street, Scottsdale, AZ.

Here is archive volunteer Kyle Larimer carefully cleaning the BABEL CANYON model.

[photo by lvb]

BABEL CANYON model is one of thirteen models that will be displayed.

Planning manager Kevin Pappa was in charge of the model preparation.

[photo by lvb]

Condition reports had to be prepared on each individual item. Here is archive volunteer Laura Villa Baroncelli working on a meticulous page-by-page report on one of the two sketchbooks that will be in the exhibition.

[photo by Sue Kirsch]

More to come.

October 07. 2016

Arcosanti alumnus Robert Clyde sent photos from Toulouse, France of an exhibition open until January 8. 2017.

Robert helped with the Toulouse silt casting workshop, taught by Cosanti Foundation Director Roger Tomalty in the fall of 2014. The models and the bench in the exhibit were made during this workshop at the Graphics Design Department of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse, see this link.

This workshop was organized by alumnus artist Aurelien Froment, with Raffael and Stephen, two of the teachers of the Graphics Design Department at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, see this link.

Here is a link to a beautiful film that director and Cosanti Foundation staff Aimee Madsen made about the silt cast workshop in Toulouse.

In October 2015 Aimee Madsen was invited to École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture (Toulouse, FRANCE) to show her documentary 'Paolo Soleri: Beyond Form', see this link.

Artist and Arcosanti alumnus Aurelian Froment also had an exhibition of his work involving Arcosanti in Paris, from October 2nd to December 7th. 2015. The exhibition included photos that Aurelian took during his last visit at Arcosanti earlier this year, one of Colly Soleri's slides and on of Ivan Pintar's, see this link.

Aurelian started his workshop in July 2002 and has visited Cosanti and Arcosanti many times.

Aurélien Froment was born in France in 1976, and has been living in Dublin, Ireland, since 2008. Many institutions have organised solo presentations of his work, including: The Wattis Institute (San Francisco), Le  Crédac (Ivry-sur-Seine, France), Musée de Rochechouart (France), Gasworks (London), Montehermoso (Vitoria, Spanish Basque country), Bonniers Konsthalle (Stockholm), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (Reims, France). He participated in the Sydney Biennial (2014), the Venice Biennial (2013), the Lyon Biennial (2011) and the Gwangju Biennial (2010). In 2014, his exhibition Fröbel Fröbeled, which was first presented at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, toured to Villa Arson (Nice, France) and Spike Island (Bristol, UK).

July 18. 2016

The Santa Fe Biennale
“Much Wider than a Line”

The title of this year’s massive art event in Santa Fe points to the boundaries between cultures, native American and European.  That boundary is not just a line, it comprises a significant overlap of ideas, meaning, actual territory, and it is embodied by the symbol of this year’s Biennale, the Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, threatened with demolition but still standing on the grounds of the Indian School in Santa Fe.

[photos and text by Jeff Stein]

A special gallery at SITE SANTA FE is dedicated to the Amphitheatre and features a photo-mural of the theatre itself, reproductions of design sketches from Paolo’s own sketchbooks.

in the photo: Jeff Stein

There is also a ceramic model of the theatre and a text from the 1960’s by the then-director of the Institute of American Indian Arts, artist Lloyd Kiva New and Rolland Meinholz, describing how the new amphitheatre should function for "Indian Theatre Practice", ie, 3-dimensional, non-scenic, growing from the earth of the site, with the chance for the audience to experience multiple perspectives.  This is exactly how it did function, too, until recently when political issues among tribes, the federal government, etc. led to this immensely popular Santa Fe landmark’s closing as a public venue.

Santa Fe architect Conrad Skinner, a leader of the “Save our Paolo Soleri” movement in New Mexico, along with curator Pablo Leon de la Barra and SITE director Irene Hofman put together this exhibit with the assistance of Soleri Archive director Tomiaki Tamura and archivist Sue Kirsch. Cosanti co-president Jeff Stein represented the Foundation at opening ceremonies in Santa Fe, and gave a talk to the Santa Fe AIA while he was there.

in the photo: Conrad Skinner and Jeff Stein

“Much Wider than a Line” is at SITE SANTA FE opened on July 14. and will be on display until January 8, 2017.

in the photo: the logo for the event on t-shits and bags.

Another important event, Paolo Soleri's book "Arcology - City in the Image of Man" was introduced at the 1970 Paolo Soleri exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. The book was published by M.I.T. Publications.

Here is a tiny glimpse into how this book came about.

in the photo: Soleri explored his ideas in sketches and produced many sketchbooks in various formats. The most impressive are in ten volumes started in 1958 until 2012; each consists of about 400 pages, about 14" x 17" (35cm x 45cm) in size,  and seven of them are bound between sculpted cast aluminum plates.

photo: Sketchbook page #105 from sketchbook #5. Here we see an original sketch of the ArcVillage, one of the many arcology designs.

photo: Under Soleri's tutalage, here we see an apprentice drawing with lots of details of the same subject. These drawings were done in black ink on paper.

photo: The Soleri Archives cataloged four bound mock-ups of different stages of the book. Here is an inside peek of one of them.

photo: The ARCVILLAGE graphics as seen in "Arcology - City in the Image of Man.

Paolo Soleri's "Arcology - City in the Image of Man" is available on our web-site with the following link.

The people that worked with Paolo on the graphics for this book:
Charles Boldrick
William Bruder
Hiroshi Hasegawa
Alan Hayward
Karen Hickey
Tulio Inglese
Rafael Jiminez Jasso
Susu Kishiyama
Jerry Kler
Brownwyn Laird
Douglas Lee
Ursula Mandel
John McCleod
Junzo Okada
Ivan Pintar
Jacob Portnoy
Kenji Shiratori
Banks Upshaw

The foreword is by renowned architectural historian Peter Blake:
"It has never been very clear to me why a book requires a foreword. If the reason is that the body of the book is not self-explanatory, then the need for a foreword does not speak very well for the body of the book. And if the reason is that the book requires some sort of endorsement, then the foreword should, really, be written by a book salesman, i.e., an obviously interested party. [Nobody is ever fooled by ostensibly "disinterested parties" anyway].

I am not really in a position to write a traditional foreword to Paolo Soleri's book" first, because I am not sure I understand it - and so I cannot possibly interpret it with authority. [I am awed by it.] And, second, because I am not a disinterested party, I am his friend.

Having disqualified myself, let me proceed with the ritualistic foreword.

Who is Soleri? Answer: He is a wiry, medium-height man around fifty who was born in Torino, in Northern Italy, where he received his Doctorate in Architecture. After World War II, he came to the United States and became apprenticed to Frank Lloyd Wright. He was one of Wright's two or three most brilliant students and was therefore kicked out by the master. Since that time, more or less, he has lived and worked in Scottsdale, Arizona, writing, drawing [on endless sheets of butcher paper], and building - both on his own acres in Scottsdale and elsewhere in the United States and Europe. He supports himself and his family by making ceramic and metal bells that swing in the breeze and make nice sounds.

What is he trying to say? Answer: I am not completely sure, because this is a very difficult book to read. Like so many so-called visionary types, Soleri has invented his own language and some of the words of that language won't be found in any English dictionary. [Curiously enough some of those words are a bit reminiscent of Italian Futuristic talk of fifty years ago.] What I think he is truing to say is this: there is an inherent logic in the structure and nature of organisms that have grown on this planet. Any Architecture, any urban design, and any social order that violates that structure and nature is destructive of itself and of us. Any architecture, urban design or social order that is based upon organic principles is valid and will prove its own validity.

What is he trying to draw? Answer: A new world based upon those principles. And beautiful, too! What is more, it seems as if the first settlement of this new world may soon be rising on 4,000 acres some 70 miles from Phoenix, Arizona, on a lovely plateau 3,700 feet above sea level. Here, Soleri and his students - eventually as many as 2,000 people in all - will soon build "Arcosanti", a community based upon the principles developed in this book. It will be, in Soleri's words, "a self-testing school for urban studies", a place where teaching and living will go on in an environment that is, in fact, the lesson itself. It is a daring project, and it will require financial support; bit it is, to the best of my knowledge, the only "New Town" currently planned in the United States that started with a visionary idea of real force - rather than a mortgage.

Is he practical or is he crazy? Answer: In view of what has been happening on this planet in recent years, it is safe to say that those in charge are neither practical nor sane. This does not mean, of course, that any "visionary" profoundly critical of the present order of thins is necessarily more practical or more sane. All it does mean is that anyone committed to the present way of building buildings, cities, or societies should disqualify himself as a critic of Soleri's proposals. In one of his more ludic statements, Soleri says that "the care of the citizen is the sap of the city. But one can care only for that which one loves. A lovable city is the key to a living city. A lovely city is not an accident, as a lovely person is not an accident." I rather doubt that the New York City Planning Commission, say is likely to make LOVE its master plan; but if it were to do just that, who is to say that LOVE is not a more practical and a more sane policy than whatever that commission is following at present.

Why should anyone read Soleri's book? Answer: Because that is the best way to gain access to some very remarkable ideas - ideas that will challenge just about everything all the rest of us keep doing, day after day. Soleri says that "the fundamental distinction between the city and the anthill" will be "not just brans by the score but also minds by the score". This book is the work of an extraordinary mind. I keep thinking of Antonio Sant'Elia, who - to the best of my knowledge - never built anything at all, but whose drawings of "ideal" cities have profoundly shaped every modern city in the world.

In any event, I have not see a book on architecture and urban design, recently, that has bothered me as much as this one. If that is an improper foreword, so be it.

Peter Blake
New York
January, 1969

We continue our report about the Paolo Soleri exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1970 with more photos of the exhibition opening.

In some of the articles about the exhibition Paolo Soleri was described as a 'little known architect from Arizona". That changed dramatically with this exhibition, Paolo Soleri entered the world stage. This also started a long series of invitations to lecture all over the world, during all of his life.

in the photo: Paolo Soleri answering questions.

[all the photos in this segment are by Ivan Pintar]

Allen Brown Gardner stated in his article "Paolo Soleri: The Fine Art of Living" in FINE ARTS, April 27. 1970: "The exhibition "The Vision of Paolo Soleri", at Washingtons Corcoran Gallery February 21st through April 5th left a record-breaking number of people who saw it delighted, excited, enriched, and definitely thinking - positively or negatively".

in the photo: Colly and Paolo Soleri at the exhibition opening. This is the only time that we have seen Paolo in a tuxedo [in any images of him in the Soleri archives].

in the photo: Paolo Soleri with Arizona senator Barry Goldwater at the Corcoran exhibition.

in the photo: Paolo Soleri in the middle.

in the photo: Paolo Soleri is interviewed infront of the 3D Jersey model.

in the photo: Paolo Soleri infront of the Hexahedron model.

The exhibition "The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri" was at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC;  from February 21. to April 5. 1970

It was at the Whitney Museum, New York, NY from July 17. to September 20. 1970.

The exhibition also traveled to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, where it opened on December 19. 1970.

The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri, Corcoran traveling exhibition continued to the University of California at Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, from March 9. to May 9. 1971.

The exhibition was displayed at Canadian Government Conference Center, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, from June 8. to July 10. 1971

The exhibition was also at the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ from September 7. to November 7. 1971.

We continue our report about the Paolo Soleri exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1970 with photos of the exhibition opening.

The exhibition "The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri" opened on February 21. 1970.

in the photo: at the opening in front of "Mesa City" plan, a montage of three scroll drawings, each 48 inches wide, making a display of 34 feet wide and 12 feet tall.

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

in the photo: at the opening - the model of the original "Arcosanti" design.

There was an invitation mounted at the Arcosanti model, something along the lines of: "This summer we are starting to build Arcosanti in the Arizona desert, come join us".

And people came and they are still coming. 

[photos by Ivan Pintar]

in the photo: the "Suspension" bridge model

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

in the photo: the exhibition opening.

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

in the photo: the model of 3D Jersey in the atrium.

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

in the photo: The 3D Jersey model viewed from above.

[photo by Annette Del Zoppo]

There was a lot of press about this exhibition, some of the notable articles were:

"Structure to House a City" by Paul Richard, WASHINGTON POST, February 17. 1970.

‘Cities in Buildings’ Exhibits Lure, Rebel at the Corcoran" by M.M. Flatley, THE EVENING STAR, Washington D.C., February 21. 1970.

"Fantasy Metropolis" by Wolf Von Eckardt, THE WASHINTON POST, February 21. 1970.

"Will Tomorrow be lived in a Soleri City" by Diana McLellan, THE EVENING STAR, Washington D.C., February 26. 1970. Part of this article is about Paolo Soleri's wife Colly "The Woman Behind Soleri".

"Architect of Tomorrow - A radical vision of the future in a spectacular exhibition at Washinton's Corcoran Gallery", ART GALLERY MAGAZINE, March 1970.

"There's no Place to go but up" by Paul Richard, THE SUNDAY STAR BULLETIN, March 1. 1970.

"The Arcologist" by Douglas Davis, NEWSWEEK, March 2. 1970.

"The Fantastic City" CHRONICLE SUNDAY PUNCH, March 8. 1970.

"Architect Views a Crowded Spaceship" by John V. Conti, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, March 11. 1970.

"Prophet in the Desert" by Ada Louise Huxtable, THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 15. 1970: "The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri" is an important and beautiful show."

"Mr. Soleri and His Better Plumbing" by John Pastier, THE NATIONAL OBSERVER, March 23. 1070

"Soleri and Guimard are subjects of two major exhibits - Arcology stirs up a storm" ARCHITECTURAL RECORD, April 1970.

"Soleri's Solution" FORUM, April 1970.

"Soleri's Cities on Display" PROGRESSIVE ARCHITECTURE, April 1970.

"Architeture" by Frederick Gutheim, NATION, New York, April 13. 1970.

"A Dream to cure the urban nightmare - Sea Cities and vertical land cities", INDUSTRY WEEK, April 20. 1970.

"Visions of the City" by Louise Huxtable, THE STARS AND STRIPES, April 21. 1970.

"Paolo Soleri: The Fine Art of Living" by Allen Brown Gardner, FINE ARTS, April 27. 1970.

"Paolo Soleri & His Arcologies" by Tom Miller, ROLLING STONE, April 30. 1970

"The Arcology of Paolo Soleri" by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, ARCHITECTURAL FORUM, May 1970

"Soleri's urban landscape" INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, May 1970

This report continues on Friday, July 8. 2016.

We salute the long and valiant effort that led to a FREE INDEPENDENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the constitution that was written to establish the underlying principles for this, our country.


Here is the continuation of our report about the 1970 Soleri exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C..

in the photo: exhibition preparation at the Corcoran gallery.

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

Excerpt from the catalog: "PAOLO SOLERI DOCUMENTA", commentary and graphics by Donald Wall, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, February 1970.

"Because the Soleri Exhibition accedes to a social relevance seldom attained by most museum exhibitions, the Corcoran Gallery of Art is especially indebted to the Prudential Insurance Company of America for acting as co-sponsor, and to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for aid in the publication of the catalog. Prudentials's contribution goes beyond the financial: it shows American business interest can exert collaborative pioneering effects on the social reals. And HUD's participation through the urban renewal demonstration program represents a new dimension of that department's concern for the achievement of quality in our developing environment. While neither Prudentail, nor HUD necessarily endorse any of Soleri's particular solutions, both feel that the issue he raises must be heard and discussed at an early date if ever new cities are to be created."

in the photo: exhibition preparation at the Corcoran gallery. The "Suspension" bridge

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

in the photo: A large platform was placed into the main atrium, to support the 3D Jersey model.

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

in the photo: Here we see the base of the 3D Jersey model being assembled.

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

in the photo: exhibition preparation at the Corcoran gallery. "ArCanyon" arcology.

in the photo: exhibition preparation at the Corcoran gallery.

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

in the photo: exhibition preparation at the Corcoran gallery. "Mesa City Markets" and "Mesa City Crafts Villages" scroll drawings.

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

in the photo: all is ready for the opening

[photo credit: Colly Soleri]

The next segment of this report will be Wednesday, 7/06/2016 and it is about the exhibition opening.

Here is a bit of "Cosanti Foundation" history - a report about the Soleri exhibition in 1970 at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C..

Lot's of things came together in the late 1960's. The first exploration of the concept of ARCOLOGY [Architecture and Ecology] can be found in Paolo Soleri sketchbook #4 in 1964-65. A group of dedicated and very talented apprentices had gathered at Cosanti to work with Soleri.

photo: Here is a glimpse into the modelshop during that time. Location is one of the Barrel Vaults at Cosanti and the model pieces are for the first Arcosanti model.

[photo by Annette Del Zoppo]

Under Soleri's tutelage they transferred some of the sketchbook ideas into large detailed black ink drawings. Parameters like sizes of the arcologies, sizes of population, acreage occupied, were worked out. This resulted in an effort to put together the book "Arcology - City in the Image of Man".

photo: Here is part of the crew behind the Barrel Vaults, working outside on some of the model parts.

[photo by Colly Soleri]

Cosanti was becoming a destination to visit for artists, intellectuals and other interesting folks. The tireless efforts of Paolo Soleri and the ever graceful diligence of his wife Colly inspired many people to give support to Soleri to bring his ideas to the attention of the public. Part of this support was a large donation of clear acrylic to build a series of models of the 'arcologies' featured in the book for a large exhibition.

photo: Soleri's model of the arcology "Hexaheadron", in the background "Arcube".

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

One of the many friends was Jim Haritas, who was the director of the Phoenix Art Museum and later became the director of the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. and set this exhibition in motion.

photo: The models are packed and the crew is loading them into U-Haul vans.

[photo by Colly Soleri]

photo: Here is Paolo amongst the unpacking at the Corcoran Gallery.

[photo by Ivan Pintar]

This report continues on Monday, July 4. 2016.

January 04. 2016

Curator Clare Carter and registrar Pat Evans from SMOCA - Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, visited the Soleri Archives on December 18. 2015.

For this visit they hired paper conservator Dana Mossman Tepper to evaluate items selected for the upcoming 2017 exhibition at the Smoca and a possible traveling exhibition to follow.

[photos by Hildemar Cruz, text by Sue Kirsch]

Dana Mossman Tepper is art conservator at the Arizona State University Art Museum. While Dana oversees conservation of the entire collection, her specialty is works of art on paper and photographs.