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The Polyptych Experience: Carlo Ratti Creates an Immersive Journey Into Renaissance Art

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota have teamed up to create an extraordinary exhibition that brings together the surviving panels of Piero della Francesca’s magnificent artwork, The Polyptych of St. Augustine. These panels, which have been scattered across the globe, are finally reunited in a display that is truly awe-inspiring. For the first time in over five centuries, visitors can step into the recreated studio of this Italian master and experience the artwork as it was intended. To add an enchanting touch, the exhibition features digitally modeled lights that beautifully mimic the captivating hues of the Tuscan sky.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

Piero della Francesca (1412-1492) holds a significant position in the realm of the Italian Renaissance. His artistic creations are distinguished by the harmonious amalgamation of art and geometry, which profoundly influenced the development of Western art. As a result, Piero della Francesca is regarded as one of the greatest painters in history.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

The Polyptych of St. Augustine plays a pivotal role in the progression of fifteenth-century art. Its significance lies in its exceptional integration of perspective, light, and theological symbolism. Unfortunately, the Polyptych went missing during the late 17th century, and for centuries, it remained unseen as a complete artwork. However, the individual panels of the Polyptych have been discovered and preserved in various galleries worldwide, including the National Gallery in London, the Frick Collection in New York, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

The collaboration between CRA and Italo Rota has resulted in an immersive installation that allows viewers to experience the masterpiece as if they were seeing it through the eyes of Piero della Francesca. This installation successfully recreates the ambiance and lighting conditions of della Francesca’s Tuscan atelier, enabling visitors to emotionally connect with the place where the Polyptych was originally created. Additionally, a second room within the installation provides a historical account of the artwork and reconstructs the layout of the Sant’Agostino church in Sansepolcro, Tuscany, using digital projections. This meticulous recreation aims to evoke the impact and grandeur of the altarpiece in its original form.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

The lighting experience within the installation has been meticulously crafted in collaboration with Artemide. Utilizing their patented “Discovery Space Spot” technology, soft and unobtrusive lighting is achieved through transparent rectangular structures, reminiscent of the gentle illumination found in the skies of Tuscany. This lighting technique effectively illuminates the rooms of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, housed within the Palazzo Moriggia Della Porta, a 16th-century palace in Milan.

Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota present a remarkable exhibition showcasing Piero della Francesca's Polyptych of St. Augustine.

Digital technologies cannot replace the enjoyment of a physical masterpiece such as Piero della Francesca’s Polyptych. However, they can help enhance our physical world. This was the idea, together with Artemide: 3D-scanning the sky of Tuscany to obtain an accurate rendition of Piero della Francesca’s atelier” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA, in a joint statement with Italo Rota.

The exhibition will be hosted at Milan’s Museo Poldi Pezzoli until June 24, 2024.

Image courtesy of Marco Beck Peccoz