NArchtikTURA exhibits Botticelli’s masterpiece at the Royal Castle in Warsaw

renaissance masterpieces on display in warsaw

From June 21 to September 18, the ‘Botticelli tells a story. Paintings by Renaissance masters from the Accademia Carrara’ collection exposure designed by NArchitekTURA, will be exhibited at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland. The exhibition presents nine Renaissance masterpieces, including works by the masters Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Cosmè Tura, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Battista Moroni and Paolo Veronese. The highlight of the exhibition is “The Story of Virginia” by Sandro Botticelli, representing the late period of the artist’s work. The works, on loan from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, together inform a fascinating exhibition evoking the spirit of one of the greatest phenomena in the history of European culture – the Renaissance movement.

Notably, NArchitekTURA’s design of the exhibition form enhances the space’s striking Renaissance interior and draws inspiration from other works created by Botticelli, including his famous masterpieces “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera”, and its illustrations of Dante’s writings. NArchitekTURA lead designer Bartosz Haduch comments that “Botticelli tells a story” attempts to create contemporary architecture that is rooted in three key themes: the unique interior of the space that features the exhibition, the specific nature of exhibited paintings and the wider Renaissance art movement.

the symmetrical and harmonious geometry of the new structure alludes to Renaissance ideals

all images courtesy of NArchitekTURA and Jakub Certowicz

history meets the present in the NArchitekTURA exhibition

NArchitekTURA’s new temporary exhibition is presented in the center of the former Chamber of Deputies, the most important Renaissance interior of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. With a richly decorated hall divided by three free-standing pillars, the most spectacular element of the chamber are its cross-vaults with the coats of arms of 32 former Polish provinces and lands arranged on an irregular background resembling a blue sky with clouds. This room is a space where present and history, reality and illusion, architecture and art clash. In the center of the exhibition area, Bartosz Haduch inserts a new freestanding concave arch displaying the artworks which is both a literal and indirect reflection of the existing ceiling and forms a negative of the vault above. The symmetrical and harmonious geometry of the new structure interprets the geometries of the Renaissance interior designed by Giovanni Battista Quadro and alludes to Renaissance ideals. In the cross-sectional views, he creates a somewhat illusory sinusoid fusing the contemporary and the historical. Its darker navy blue color reflects the lighter shade of the existing vault above, and is inspired by a shade of the famous lapis lazuli pigment, and that used for the crown of the apse in Botticelli’s painting presented in the exhibition.

While the historic ceiling illustrates a daytime view of the sky, NArchitekTURA’s newly designed exhibit suggests the same view, but at night. The reflective and curved surfaces deviate, darken and distort the image of the existing bedroom, evoking the historic optical effects seen in both Renaissance art and architecture. The reflective effect dematerializes and defragments the architecture of the Chamber, giving it a new quality while blurring the boundaries between old and new. “Particularly in two views oriented in the direction of the central longitudinal axis, one can have the impression of an illusory sinking of the three existing pillars into a fluid surface resembling the trough between towering waves.” notes Bartosz Haduch, founder of the design and research group. “It is surely one of the most spectacular architectural motifs in the exhibition.”

NArchtikTURA exhibits Botticelli's masterpiece in the renaissance chamber of the royal castle in warsaw
the new exhibition stand is located in the center of the former Chamber of Deputies of the Royal Castle in Warsaw

botticelli’s ‘story of virginia’ is in the foreground

Individual works of art, not visible from these two axial perspectives, are presented in recesses with a more neutral matte background. Each side edge of the navy blue monolith is slightly concave, inviting viewers to come closer to the paintings. These Renaissance works of art are displayed on opposite sides of the bedroom, all illuminated by soft indirect lighting hidden in recessed niches. On one side, eight thematic works by Giovanni Bellini, Cosmè Tura, Vittore Carpaccio, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Battista Moroni, Paolo Veronese, Defendente Ferrari and Jacopo Bassano. Exhibited alone on the other side, “The Story of Virginia” by Sandro Botticelli, accompanied by an illustrated information panel.

NArchitekTURA’s sophisticated interplay of solids and light, combined with the Chamber’s unique scenography, together create optimal conditions for interacting with Renaissance masterpieces. The arrangement of all the artifacts along the longer walls of the chamber also provides viewers with benches in the existing window recesses – for quiet, undivided and unhurried contemplation of the works. The exhibition is complemented and enhanced by discreet indirect lighting, subdued instrumental music and carefully selected elements of small architecture, graphics and typography. All new visual identification elements have been crafted in brass, referencing the golden color of the frames. Together, this creates a holistic view of the exhibition, based on specific multi-threaded inspiration, but open to diverse ways of perception and interpretation.

Julia P. Cluff