In Vitro - Totipotent Architecture

Date: 2004
Ref: 1201
Materials: Antique cradle, Steel, hand blown crystal, fragment of oil painting (Laminated Lambda photograph)
Dimensions: 190 x 510 x 510 cm
Catalogued: pp159-177 Arte all' Arte catalogue 2005
Exhibition history: 2013 TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth, UK; 2005 University of Brighton Art Gallery, UK; 2003 Arte All'Arte, Italy
Courtesy: The Artists

For Arte all’ Arte, a project in the Tuscan town of Buonconvento, Lucy + Jorge Orta installed a series of specially made sculptures in crystal and steel in the Sacred Art Museum. The works were made in collaboration with local artisans and celebrate Colle di Val d’Elsa’s crystal-blowing tradition. In Vitro is a modified antique cradle containing organic crystal-blown forms, whose placement juxtaposes a Renaissance painting of the Annunciation by Girolamo di Benvenuto. Orta have also created a series titled Totipotent Architecture, presented on metal and glass tables installed along the length of the gallery. These curious constructions consist of cut metal architectural silhouettes and armatures with organic blown-crystal extensions.

This new series was inspired by Orta’s recent research into the microstructure of human cells in their earliest stages—the transformation of the embryonic cell into defined, “architectural” structures, which the artists refer to as “cells of habitation.” In the context of Buonconvento, and in juxtaposition to Girolamo’s Annunciation painting, these imaginary architectural models express a “vision” or a birth of new architectural forms as organic extensions of the historic Tuscan buildings. 

James Putnam, “The Shape of the Clouds and the Shape of Space and Time,” in Arte all’arte. La forma delle nuvole. Arte, architettura, paesaggio, eds. James Putnam, Achille Bonito Oliva, and Mario Cristiani (Pistoia: Gli Ori, 2004).

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