Ugo La Pietra

Artist, architct, designer
Born in 1938 in Bussi sul Tirino (Pescara)
Native of Arpino (Frosinone)
Lives and works in Milano.

An architect by training, he is an artist, filmmaker, editor, musician, cartoonist and teacher. He has been defining himself as a researcher in communication systems and in visual arts since 1960, moving simultaneously in the worlds of art and design.

A tireless experimenter, he has crossed different currents (from Informalism and Conceptual Art to Narrative Art and artist’s cinema) and used multiple mediums, conducting research that were embodied in the theory of the “Disequilibrating System” – autonomous expression within Radical Design – and in important sociological themes such as “The Telematic Home” (MoMA, New York, 1972 – Fiera di Milano, 1983), “Real Space / Virtual Space” (Triennale di Milano 1979, 1992), “The eclectic Home” (Abitare il Tempo, 1990), “Beach Culture” (Centro Culturale Cattolica, 1985/95). He has transmitted his work through numerous exhibitions in Italy and abroad, and he has curated several exhibitions at the Triennale di Milano, the Venice Biennale, the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, the FRAC Centre in Orléans, the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, the Fondazione Ragghianti in Lucca, the Fondazione Mudima in Milano and the Museo MA*GA in Gallarate. He has always critically maintained the humanistic, significant and territorial components of design through his works and objects, as well as his work in teaching, theory and publishing.

1959/60 He began “sign research” in painting, aimed at salvaging of the “Minimum symbolic experimentation”.

1962 With A. Ferrari, E. Sordini, A. Verga and A. Vermi, he founded the Gruppo del Cenobio.

1968 He designed and created the “Audiovisual Environment” at the XIV Triennale di Milano.

1969 He won the following prizes for painting: I° Premio Termoli, II° Premio Joan Miró, I° Premio Cesare da Sesto. He took part in the IV Week of Painting at the Museum Johanneum in Graz. He created urban intervention for the “Campo Urbano” in Como.

1970 He was invited to the experimental exhibition at the XXXV Venice Biennale.

1971 He designed audiovisual urban tools for Trigon 71 in Graz (Austria).

1972 He took part in the “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” exhibition at MoMA with “La cellula abitativa;” he developed works for and took part in exhibitions at the “The new writing” area.

1973 He was a founding member of Global Tools. He was invited to the XV Triennale and made the film La grande occasione.

1973-1975 He became artistic director of the Milanese publishing house Jabik & Colophon.

1975 He won first prize at the Nancy Film Festival.

1976 He took part in the XXXVII Venice Biennale in the “Environment as society” section (E. Crispolti).

1978 He took part in the XXXVIII Venice Biennale in the following sections: “Artist’s cinema” (V. Fagone), “Utopia, the crisis of the architecture. Radical Architecture” (L.V. Masini).

1979 He won the Compasso d’Oro with the project “L’occultamento.” He curated the “Real space / Virtual space” exhibition at the Triennale di Milano.

1980 With Gianfranco Bettetini, he curated the “Chronographies, Special project” exhibition at the XXXIX Venice Biennale.

1981 He co-curated the “Scenographic space in the Italian television” exhibition at the XVI Triennale di Milano.

1983 He curated (with G. Bettetini and A. Grasso) the “The Telematic Home” exhibition at the Fiera di Milano.

1986-1997 He became art director of cultural and experimental exhibitions at the “Living time” event.

1992 He curated the “Life between things and nature” section at the XVIII Triennale di Milano and created the “Mediterranean Landscape” installation at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Quadriennale Internationnale de Design.

1997 He organised the personal exhibition “Fragments,” with objects created in mosaics at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence.

2001 “Mediterranean lands,” a personal exhibition at the Fondazione Ragghianti in Lucca.

2002 “The new territoriality,” at the Rocca Paolina in Perugia.

2005 All of his films were acquired by the Fondazione Cineteca Italiana which organized an exhibition presented by Vittorio Fagone; Luciano Caramel was the curator of his personal exhibition at the Fondazione Umberto Mastroianni in Arpino (FR) and Frosinone.

2007 He took part in exhibitions dedicated to the 1970s at the Museo Villa Croce in Genoa (“Public, actions and ideas in the Seventies in Italy”), at the Triennale di Milano (“Seventies. The long decade of the short century”), and at the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona (“Observing the reflected thought”); he created the installations “Sicilian itineraries” and “Unity of the Mediterranean sea” at the Museo del Mediterraneo Fondazione Orestiadi in Gibellina.

2008 He was the subject of a large retrospective at the Fondazione Mudima in Milan, curated by Vittorio Fagone. He participated to the exhibition “International Sculpture in Agliè. Sculpture Nature. Orient Occident” invited by Luciano Caramel.

2009 FRAC Centre in Orléans dedicated a personal exhibition to his architectural works from the 1960s and 1970s; he realized two exhibitions on his work in ceramics at the Museum in Castellamonte and at MIC in Faenza and, in 2010, at the Museo Hoffmann in Caltagirone; in this year he presented two other exhibition dedicated to his ceramic work in Turin and in Albisola.

2011 He took part in a large retrospective at the Galerie Mercier in Paris; he presented the exhibition “Living the city. Yesterday’s future, for a new territoriality”, at the Museo MIAAO, in Turin curated by Enzo Biffi Gentili; he participated in the “Fuori! Arte e spazio urbano 1968-1973” exhibition at the Museo del Novecento in Milan, curated by Silvia Bignami and Alessandra Pioselli.

2012 He participated in the “Goodbye Seventiesexhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and in the “Radical City” exhibition organised by the Archivio di Stato in Turin. Fondazione Mudima dedicated a personal exhibition to him entitled “Living in Milan” which collected his works and interventions in the Milan area. He took part in the exhibition “The Expanded Gaze. Exhibition for Italian artist’s cinema (1912- 2012)” at the Fondazione Rocco Guglielmo in Catanzaro.

2013 He participated in the “In the sign of sign. After the Informal Art. The Cenobio Group” exhibition at the Galleria del Credito Valtellinese (Milan) curated by Luciano Caramel, “Artists in spaceat the Fondazione Rocco Guglielmo in Catanzaro and in “Environments and Counter Environments. ‘Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,’ MoMA, 1972” at the Graham Foundation in Chicago. He presented the personal exhibitions “Itineraries” at Ca’ di Fra Gallery in Milan and “Trace. My territories” in Ceramic Museum in Mondovì.

2014 Triennale Design Museum in Milan dedicated a personal exhibition to him entitled “Ugo La Pietra. Disequilibrating Design” curated by Angela Rui. He presented the exhibition Inside / Outsideat the Galleria Antonia Jannone in Milan.

2015 He presented the personal exhibitions “Green works it out!” at the Galleria Il Chiostro Arte Contemporanea in Saronno, “Textural Structures” at the E3 Gallery in Brescia and he took part at the exhibition “Earthrise” at the PAV in Turin invitated by Marco Scotini.

2016 He won the Compasso d’Oro for his Career. He presented the exhibition “Living is being at home everywhere. Works and researchs in the urban environment 1962-2016” at MA*GA Museum in Gallarate curated by Marco Meneguzzo; he organized the personal exhibition “Cinque verdi urbani” at Bianconi Gallery in Milan; he realized an urban installation in ceramic for the city of Montelupo Fiorentino fot the project “Materia Prima”.

2017 he realized the solo-show: “Territori”, Galleria Bianconi, Milano; “Le altre culture”, AD’ Gallery, Milano; “Cento ceramiche italiane”, Museo Duca di Martina, Napoli; “Campo Tissurato. I segni e l’urbano”, Studio d’Arte Dabbeni, Lugano; “Una forza interiore”, Officine Saffi, Milano. He realized two significant installations: “Nuovo tempio capitolino”, in the Archeological area of Palatino in Roma, and “Abitare Milano-Analisi e decodifica dello spazio urbano”, in the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milano. He has been invited in some important collective shows: “The Other Architect”, CCA/Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam; “Take Me (I’m Yours)”, Hangar Bicocca, Milano; “Nouvel accrochage des collections contemporaines”, Centre Pompidou, Paris; “Le storie del film d’artista in Italia”, MAXXI, Roma; “Arte ribelle”, Galleria del Credito Valtellinese, Milano.

2018 He is invited in some important collective exhibition including “100% Italia” at Museo Ettore Fico in Torino, “Home Futures” at London Design Museum, “Homo Faber” organized by Michelangelo Foundation at Cini Foundation in Venezia, for this exhibition he has realized a mosaic sculpture in collaboration with the mosaic master Giulio Candussio. He participated at “Artissima” (new section called “Sound”) with Studio Dabbeni Lugano with his historical work “Audio casco” (1967) for which he received a honorable mention form the OGR Award jury. He realized an important solo exhibition at CIAC Museum in Foligno.

2019 He made some solo exhibitions and took part to various collective exhibitions including “Resistenza/Resilienza” at PAV in Torino, for which he realized five thematic gazebos dedicated to urban green. He took part to exhibitions and meetings for the 50th anniversary of “Campo urbano” organized by Fondazione Ratti and  town of Como. He realized a new stone sculpture for the town of Apricena (Apulia) with the project “Museo Madrepietra”. He realized some installation at Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, and he presented his art films at GAMeC in Bergamo.

2020 He realized an exhibition on his urban art projects called “Arte e territorio” in the museum of Spoleto. Some solo exhibitions have been set up: “Storie di virus” at Corraini Gallery in Mantova presented his drawings about Covid-19 and “Ex voto” at Nuages Gallery in Milano presented some illustrations about ex voto.

2021 He realized “Segnale / Portale” a new public monumental sculpture in Brufa (Perugia). Fondazione Zimei di Pescara organized a personal exhibition called “Abitare è essere ovunque a casa propria”. ADI Design Museum set up a focus about the project “Occultamento” in the Compasso d’Oro Collection exhibition. He curated “Fittile”, contemporary ceramic art exhibition organized in Triennale di Milano by Fondazione Cologni. He published a book “Erbario” with an exhibition in Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano (Milano).

2022 He received the “63° Bugatti-Segantini International Painting Award” for his career. He received the special award “MAM Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere” for his mentoring work in the Italian craft culture. He realized the exhibition “Ovunque a casa propria” dedicated to his film and video production at Centro Trevi in Bolzano (with a dedicated book). He took part at the 12° International Design Biennal in Saint-Etienne (France).

2023 The “Italics Italian Galleries Association” awarded him with the “Italics d’Oro Award”. ABC Arte Gallery organised two personal exhibitions in Genoa and Milan. Brera Fine Art Academy in Milan set up in the former San Carpoforo Church his personal exhibition “Abitare la città”. He realized the show “Attrezzature urbane per la collettività” at ADI Design Museum in Milan and the exhibition “Effetto Randomico” in Todi invited by Fondazione Beverly Pepper.

Since 1964, he has taught at the Architecture Departments in Milan, Pescara, Palermo, Turin and Venice; at the Politecnico di Milano, Design Department; at the Istituto d’Arte in Monza; at ISIA in Faenza; at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan; at the NABA in Milan; at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan; from 2000 to 2005 he ran the Progettazione Artistica per l’Impresa department, which he founded, at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan. Since 2009, he has been a professor at the Politecnico di Milano, Design Department and at the NABA in Milan.
He has held workshops and seminars at several universities and academies both in Italy and abroad.

Selected publications
Il sistema disequilibrante, ed. Toselli, Milan 1970; La guida alternativa per la città di Milano, monograph, ed. Progettare Inpiù, Milan 1974/75; Autoarchiterapia, ed. Jabik & Colophon, Milan 1975; Istruzioni per l’uso della città, ed. Associazione Culturale Plana, Milan 1970; Spazio reale-Spazio virtuale (Lo Spazio audiovisivo nella XIV Triennale di Milano) ed. Marsilio, Venice 1980; Pro-memoria, ed. Katà, Milan 1982; Abitare la città, ed. Alinea, Florence 1983; La casa telematica, ed. Katà, Milan 1984; Il giardino delle delizie, ed. Alinea, Florence 1986; Argomenti per un dizionario del design italiano, Franco Angeli Editore, Milan 1987; Gio Ponti l’arte s’innamora dell’industria, ed. Coliseum, Milan 1988, ed. Rizzoli 1993; Domesticarte, ed. Alinea, Florence 1988; Casa Aperta, Giardino all’Italiana ed. Alinea, Florence 1989; Ugo La Pietra, ed. G.G., Barcelona 1991; Ad Arte, ed. Alinea, Florence 1995; Fatto ad Arte, ed. Triennale di Milano 1997; Pietre Marmi e Mosaici, ed. Alinea, Florence 2002; La vita è una cuccagna, ed. Alinea, Florence, 2003; Ad Arte. Tradizione e Innovazione nell’Artigianato Artistico Lombardo, ed. Cestec, Regione Lombardia, 2004/2006; Globo tissurato. 1965-2007, ed. Alinea, Florence, 2007; Abitare la città, ed. Allemandi, Turin 2011; Urban furniture for society, ed. Corraini, Mantua, 2013; Inside / Outside, ed. Corraini, Mantua, 2014; Green works it out!, ed. Corraini, Mantua, 2015; Odori e sapori, Ed. Galleria Nuages, Milan, 2015; Living with art. Research and works in the applied arts and in design, ed. Corraini, Mantua, 2015.

He was editor of “Domus,” “D’ARS” and “AU” magazines. He was creative director of the magazine “Mestieri d’Arte.” He has directed and edited: “In. Argomenti e immagini di Design”, “Global Tools”, “Progettare INPIÙ”, “Brera Flash”, “Fascicolo”, “Area”, “Abitare con Arte”, “Artigianato tra Arte e Design.”; Il Segno randomico. Opere e ricerche 1958/2016, ed. Silvana editoriale, Milano, 2016; Campo Tissurato. I Segni e l’urbano, ed. Archive Books, Berlino, 2017; Fatto ad arte. Né arte né design (scritti e disegni), ed. Marsilio/Fondazione Cologni, Venezia, 2018; Argomenti per un dizionario del design, ed. Quodlibet, Macerata, 2019; Abitare è essere ovunque a casa propria, Corraini, Mantova, 2019. Arte e Territorio, ed. Manfredi, Imola, 2020. Ex Voto, ed. Nuages, Milano, 2020. Storie di virus, ed. Corraini, Mantova, 2020. Viaggio sul Reno, ed Artphilein, Lugano, 2020. Erbario, ed. Marinonibooks, Pavia, 2021. Terre. Artigianato artistico italiano nella ceramica contemporanea, ed. Marsilio/Fondazione Cologni, Venezia, 2021. Film e video, ed. Archivio Ugo La Pietra, Milano, 2022. Lithos. Pietre marmi mosaici nell’artigianato artistico contemporaneo, ed. Marsilio/Fondazione Cologni, Venezia, 2023. Attrezzature urbane per la collettività, Manfredi Edizioni, Imola 2023. Progettazione artistica per l’impresa. Lezioni a Brera 200-2007, Libri Scheiwiller-Accademia di Brera, Milano 2023. Viviamo affollate solitudini, Politi Seganfreddo Edizioni, Milano 2023.

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