The artist, architect, designer and poet Riccardo Dalisi was an original figure in the Italian art scene of the latter half of the 20th century. Close to the radical movement of the 1970s, he played an active role in the debate about “anti-design”, rejecting consumerist and functionalist values in the definition of space, and advocating a return to imagination as the driving principle of creation. In the early 1960s, he embarked on a theoretical research project about “generative geometry” , inspired by structuralism and Chomsky’s generative grammar. In his study of spatial structures, Dalisi sought the definition of an “evolving geometric matrix”, based on principles at work in nature. Like plants, which, based on a seed, follow different directions, depending on context and light, the architectural project develops at the pace of the user, his perception, and his “own” geometry. These principles laid the foundations for experimental work on an “architecture of unpredictability”. Between 1970 and 1975, with children in working-class neighbourhoods of Naples, Dalisi created several hundred street workshops: using small wooden models made by students, the children re-appropriated these “models” and gave free rein to the unfettered creation of forms through drawing, embroidery, and design. The set of works acquired by the FRAC Centre is the first historical re-creation of those sociological experiments, whose influence was considerable for a whole generation of artists and architects, and in particular for Global Tools, a counter-school of architecture and design founded in Florence in 1973.
Riccardo Dalisi graduated in 1957 from the University of Architecture in Naples, where he himself subsequently taught. Since the 1960s he has published several theoretical books about architecture and design (L’Architettura della Imprevedibilità, 1969; Architettura d’Animazione, 1974, etc.). His art praxis, associating drawing, painting and sculpture, and invariably imbued with popular culture and poetry, has been shown in numerous exhibitions and described in many publications in Italy and abroad. Dalisi has also worked as a designer for Zanotta, Alessi (Caffettiera napoletana, 1979), Fiat, Rosenthal and Bisazza.