Vincenzo de Cotiis Is Leaving His Mark on Venice

With the launch of his namesake foundation in a historic Venetian palazzo, the Italian architect continues to nurture his exploratory, era-spanning spirit.

Vincenzo de Cotiis at Palazzo Giustinian Lolin. Photography by Wichmann + Bendtsen

Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, a Baroque-style palace facing one of Venice’s most picturesque waterways, has weathered the mark of many characters. Built in the 15th century, reconstructed shortly after by Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena to use columns of all three classical orders, and now home to the European music foundation of Ugo and Olga Levi on the second floor, the palazzo has retained centuries-old details like Murano glass chandeliers and cyan silk panels. “It’s full of a material history with generations of architectural references built on top of each other,” says the architect Vincenzo de Cotiis, who found kinship between the palazzo’s history and his own practice, which involves layering disparate materials both in historical interiors and on sculptural objects to poetically explore the passage of time. 

That may explain why de Cotiis moved into the first floor—and inaugurated his foundation there, too. Coinciding with the Venice Art Biennale’s 60th edition, the Vincenzo de Cotiis Foundation aims to enhance the city’s creative sphere with exhibitions and publications that advance our understanding of contemporary art and design. It starts with “Archaeology of Consciousness Venice,” which features a trio of monumental arches installed within the palazzo’s courtyard. “I wanted to show something that connected back to the city,” de Cotiis tells Surface, explaining that arches symbolize the architectural development of La Serenissima. They feature recycled fiberglass, ancient stone such as Rhodonite, and elements of Murano glass, layered atop and around one another in an organic, seemingly effortless style. 

(FROM LEFT) “DC2312 Venice” (2023). Installation view of “Archaeology of Consciousness Venice.” Photography by Wichmann + Bendtsen

Visible through the palazzo’s main water door, the arches forge the appearance of gateways rising from the surrounding lagoon—dated relics imbued with histories expressed through marble and stone—while also nodding to the arches lining and supporting the palazzo’s famous facade. De Cotiis intends for them to be treated as portals to the past, present, and future, activated in our imagination by moving under them. “Art is often concerned with movement—the idea of bringing something static to life,” he says. “Arches inspire that movement in their audience, like a charisma that pulls you through them. It’s inherently exploratory.” 

A sense of exploration will also apply to his foundation, which will be run by his wife, Claudia Rose. When pressed for future plans, the couple demurred, though admitted that figuring out how to engage with contemporary music is on the docket. “We’re also looking forward to the Architecture Biennale next year, but can’t say any more about that yet,” she tells Surface. “Central to the foundation is the idea that Vincenzo and I have built a home here. The foundation has a very personal resonance for us. It has to be lived with.” 

Vincenzo de Cotiis Foundation. Photography by Wichmann + Bendtsen
Vincenzo de Cotiis Foundation. Photography by Wichmann + Bendtsen

“Archaeology of Consciousness Venice” will be on view at Palazzio Giustinian Lolin, Venice, until November 24.

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