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The naked Beauty of Francesco di Giorgio Martini

La Forma nuda di Francesco written by Aritz Díez Oronoz is the latest and outstanding addition to Figure, the collection directed by Mauro Marzo for LetteraVentidue, which has already published texts on masters such as Andrea Palladio, Aldo Rossi, Asplund or Bramante, among others.
This little but precious book on the renaissance architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, in which the author proposes an interesting journey through his works, tries to unravel the most valuable and atemporal lesson given by the Italian master. A lesson which, in this particular case, relies on the decidedly essential and naked forms that characterise the work of the Sienese architect. The author makes an in-depth reflection on this nakedness of the form or “forma nuda” – as formulated by Francesco Paolo Fiore and Manfredo Tafuri – characteristic of Francesco di Giorgio, that reveals itself as the fundamental – and most contemporary – feature of his architecture.
In pursuing this goal, the author does not get lost on the usual digressions regarding classical orders and mouldings which often populate books in renaissance architecture. On the contrary, he sticks to the point and goes straight to the architectural genesis of the work of Francesco di Giorgio, analysing his education, his approach to Roman Antiquity, and the models and influences behind an architect who was able to make a personal and innovative architecture without renouncing to his responsibility of transmitting and reinterpreting the received heritage.
Francesco di Giorgio, disciple and one of the main continuators of the spatial revolution initiated by Leon Battista Alberti, is portrayed in the book as an architect both capable of creating beautiful new places by intervening on existing buildings, as it happens in the Ducal Palace of Urbino; and also, powerful but delicate architectures designed ex novo; decidedly naked, essential and sober buildings, governed by geometry and proportion, such as the Palazzo della Signoria in Jesi, the monastery of Santa Chiara and the church of San Bernardino in Urbino, or the church of Madonna del Calcinaio in Cortona.
Of special interest is the chapter devoted to the formal quest undertaken by Francesco di Giorgio regarding the construction of new fortifications caused by the proliferation of artillery during the 16th century that rendered medieval walls obsolete. A well-documented contribution about the passage from a resistance based on mass to another based merely on form and its intrinsic qualities – further developed in the author’s doctoral thesis – and clearly exemplified here on the fortresses of Sassocorvaro and Mondavio.
The author also demonstrates how the formal quest of Francesco di Giorgio was not merely theoretic, but submitted to the limits of a reality that compelled him to reconcile architectural ideals with the complexities derived from a particular location, the relation with pre-existing buildings, function or construction itself. Thus, the architect was able to establish a fruitful dialectic process between the ideal form and the rigour of construction in each of his designs.
All this is accompanied by a valuable set of worm’s eye axonometric views, plans and elevations drawn ad hoc for this book by the author; as well as by an interesting appendix that contains reflections written by Francesco di Giorgio himself that reveal his iron will to build himself following his own natural inclinations.
In the end one can establish a rather curious parallelism between the ancient master and the author in which Francesco di Giorgio pursues the essence of his own naked architecture, while the author, for his part, seeks the essence of the ancient master’s architecture. A task in which Díez Oronoz succeeds with this academic, didactic and also passionate book that allows readers to reflect on the lessons given by one of the most interesting figures of renaissance architecture.

Imanol Iparraguirre Barbero

Author: Aritz Díez Oronoz
Title: La forma nuda di Francesco
Language: italiano
Publisher: LetteraVentidue
Characteristics: formato 12x18cm, 140 pages, paperback, b/w
ISBN: 978-88-6242-438-7
Year: 2020


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