The Rialto Fish market, the Pescheria, is one of the distinguishing marks of neo-historical and urban architecture of the early Twentieth century in Venice. It was designed by the versatile artist Cesare Laurenti (1854-1936) with the technical collaboration of the architect Domenico Rupolo (1861-1945).
The materials on show come from the Laurenti collection – part of a vast archives that his heirs divided and donated to the Padua City Council, the Biennale Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts and Ca’ Pesaro.
The exhibition is in room 10 of Ca’ Pesaro, which – with a series of rotating initiatives – will become a space for closer study, development and thematic comparisons.
Why should we study this work again today?
The theme of the Architecture Biennale, Out there. Architecture beyond building, which aims at showing that architecture is a way of thinking and communicating with buildings, the way of portraying them and constructing them, is an interesting interpretation or rediscovery for the Rialto Fish Market as well, where the precise analysis of the functional part (the fishmongers’ stalls), is interwoven with the detailed care of the ornamental decorations and models. Here the mere neo-historical quotation is surpassed by a decorative dream that has its climax in the great marine animals living on the capitals facing the Grand Canal.
Laurenti the painter is architect, sculptor, and town-planner – in his Fish Market, an area dedicated to the most concrete aspect of life, signs and functions are intertwined in the aesthetic pursuit of the precise symbolic features. And it is none other than this characteristic that makes the Fish Market a unitary work, understood as a whole as well as being, at the same time, the exceptional and perhaps unduly neglected testimony of ancient savoir faire.