e sorgo, e I lievi nugoletti, e il primo
degli augelli sussuro, e l’aura fresca,
e le ridenti piaggi benedico
Leopardi, la vita solitaria
The Italian architect Francesco Borromini was born in Bissone – on 25.09.1599. 02.08.1667 he committed suicide in Rome.
As a mason in the workshops of the San Pietro, he worked under the other building master, Bernini. Afterwards he went on with his own designs and compete with his master’s.
Where Bernini is overstated baroque, Borromini produced the understated version. The almost entirely white interior of his San Ivo, with a floor of grey-white tiles, is astonishingly sober – certainly so after you have visited a Bernini church shortly before.
Bernini is giving you an overdose, his structures are in Marshal McLuhan’s terms hot. You can merely experience them by looking away, by only concentrating on parts of them – a most curious experience of what according to the baroque code is supposed to be a… Gesamtkunstwerk.
Borromini’s buildings, on the other hand, are of an absorbing insanity – cool media so to say. They do not pounce you, are not overpowering the visitor. They beckon like a Siren – at the risk of drowning in them, even becoming mad yourself.
Borromini also invented the San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, the subject of the first of my Borromonini Verse – a church on the Via del Quirinale, distanced only ninety yards from Bernini’s Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale. Its ceiling is of a frivolous schizophrenia.
His San Ivo – a structure situated on a perfect symmetry axis – is hidden away in the grand city of Rome, in such a way that it is only to be found by way of a map in one’s hand.
A spiraling lantern decorates its centre – a unique touch, as delicate as it is intriguing. Up there, I saw our sun standing off side.
Hopefully, the Borromini Verse indicate a parti pris – and why not, suggest my Wahlverwandtschaft with that man. This would not plead for my mental sanity. It was never the intention.
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