Sans humour?

Mario Sironi, Study for exhibition entrance Mostra dell'Architettura Moderna alla V Triennale di Milano, 1933. DM 2072 – Drawing Matter

Mario Sironi (1855–1961), Study for exhibition entrance Mostra dell'Architettura Moderna alla V Triennale di Milano, 1933. Pencil and bodycolour on buff paper, 364 × 460 mm.

Ennemondo Alessandro Petitot. Etching from ‘Mascarade a la Grecque', 1771. DM 2127 – Drawing Matter

Ennemondo Alessandro Petitot (1727–1801), Mascarade a la Grecque, 1771. Etching, 415 × 290 mm.

Giuseppe Roberto Martinenghi. Magister Caementariorum G. Botta, Aedificare, c.1930. DM 2216 – Drawing Matter

Giuseppe Roberto Martinenghi (1894–1970), Magister Caementariorum G. Botta, Aedificare, c. 1930. Print, 248 × 170 mm.

It seems that architects are too self-conscious – or perhaps in need of being seen as permanently on duty – to portray themselves or what they do with much humour, let alone self-critical caricature. Edwin Lutyens is an honourable exception, even if his self-mockery ultimately becomes a public performance – a narrow genre of which Petitot is ever the master. Sironi and Botta seem at least to suggest that such things are sometimes a little easier in Italy, but each of them here still carefully allows himself some ironic distance.

–Niall Hobhouse

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For artists who do see themselves with a bit or humour and levity see Deanna Petherbridge's piece on Artists at Work, a recent exhibition she curated at the Courtauld Gallery from the Katrin Bellinger collection; and on the pretext of politics in Sironi.