'Not manly enough': Berlusconi's verdict on Libeskind work

Perhaps, when the architect Daniel Libeskind produced his grand plans for an art museum and office tower designed to inspire civic pride in the heart of Milan, he should not have been surprised when Italy's gaffe-prone Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said the bent structure emanated a "sense of impotence" because it is not manly enough.

But Libeskind, an American born in Poland, was so outraged that he accused Mr Berlusconi of being a xenophobe who proffers "repugnant" politics, according to the The Art Newspaper. The war of words culminated in the premier's latest threat this month to withdraw planning permission for the museum.

The spat began when Mr Berlusconi made an off-the-cuff remark about Libeskind's design for the tower, part of the Fiera Milano site. The skyscraper, intended to be situated between buildings designed by the British architect Zaha Hadid and her Japanese colleague Arata Isozaki, curves dramatically, a feature that displeased Mr Berlusconi.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, he expressed his chagrin through a series of light-hearted, sexual allusions.

The writer Umberto Eco weighed in support of Berlusconi's words saying: "Milan is full of people with crooked members. There will simply be one more in need of Viagra."

Critics of the design hoped that the Italian Prime Minister's intervention might prompt Libeskind to straighten up his design a little. But the award-winning architect, who designed Manchester's Imperial War Museum, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and a new building in Manhattan at the site of the World Trade Centre, hit back in an interview with the same newspaper by comparing Mr Berlusconi's aversion with Fascist ideology.

"In Fascist Italy, everything that was not 'straight' was considered 'perverse art'," said Libeskind. "My tower is inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, and great Italian culture. [Mr Berlusconi] does not have the time or intellect to study these.

"As an American and Jew brought up in Poland, I find Berlusconi abominable. His concept of nationalism, of closing borders and denying what's different, is repugnant. He hates foreigners."

Some speculate that the Prime Minister might reconsider the planning permission.

Vittorio Sgarbi, a former culture adviser to the city of Milan, told the Italian periodical Il Giornale dell'Arte: "I don't think the Prime Minister will let him proceed with his skyscraper or his museum unless he apologises."

A spokeswoman for the Fiera Milano developers said she believed the project was still "on track".

It is not the first time hat Mr Berlusconi’s loose tongue has made him enemies. At the start of Italy’s EU presidency in 2003, he told a German MEP he would be perfect for a film role as a Nazi camp guard, while at the launch of his 2006 election campaign he angered Catholics by comparing himself to Jesus.

And in the wake of 9/11, he suggested Islam was a backward religion that might have to be “conquered” by the West.

...and other great works by the visionary American

JEWISH MUSEUM, BERLIN

Libeskind said the deaths of some of his relatives in the Holocaust made him an ideal candidate to design the Berlin museum, which opened in 2001. Its lightning bolt design was intended to “integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city”.

IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, MANCHESTER

Intended to represent a “globe shattered into fragments”, the museum opened in 2002 and is made up of three interlocking shards designed to embody earth, air and water. Libeskind says on his website that the structure constitutes “an iconic emblem of conflict”.

GROUND ZERO, NEW YORK

New York city planners turned to Libeskind to regenerate Ground Zero following the al-Qa’ida terror attacks of 11 September, 2001. Due to be completed by 2015, his designs include the 1,776ft Freedom Tower, a visitor centre, an underground museum and four office blocks in a spiral.

BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY, RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL

Drawing on his Jewish heritage, Libeskind designed the university’s Wohl Centre, which was completed in 2005. The building contains a 1,000-seat cantilevered auditorium and its jagged form is designed to resemble an open book. The exterior is mostly clad in lacquered golden aluminium sheets.

LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY

Inspired by the Orion constellation, the university’s new graduate centre was opened in 2004. Three dramatically intersecting blocks clad in stainless steel form a gateway to the campus on Holloway Road. Libeskind says the structure acts as a “magnet” to the university.

ALASTAIR BEACH

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor