ERNESTO BASILE 1857-1932
Educated in Palermo at the Regia Scuola di Applicazione per Ingegneri e Architetti, where he began his university career as an assistant of his father, Giovan Battista Filippo Basile (Palermo 1825-1891) holder of the chair of Technical Architecture, Ernesto Basile, after a short assistantship (which started in 1882) at the University chair held by Enrico Guj in Rome, became a professor and later (in 1891) an academic of Technical Architecture first at Rome University (until 1890) and then at Palermo University (basically until his death on August 26, 1932). He was born in Palermo on January 31, 1857 the first of six children - three boys, Alceste and Edoardo were born later, and three girls, Benedetta, Marcella and Maria, born after their father's second marriage, to Alessandra Vasari, the sister of his first wife who died prematurely in 1867. A genuine interpreter, in the last two decades of the 19th century, of a problematic eclecticism, well anchored to a leading Sicilian tradition in search of "new architectural systems" (that he had inherited from his father), Ernesto Basile had been considerably motivated, since his debut, by innovative methodological aspirations and a will to meet the most advanced international cultures. An example is offered by the Roman projects of the 1880s and, the following decade, by Sicilian production (worthy of note, the Ossario di Calatafimi, the fabric complex for the IV National Exposition in Palermo, Villa Bordonaro, Palazzo Francavilla, for its interiors deco¬rations and the furnishings above all, and the kiosks Ribaudo and Vicari in Piazza Verdi).
His journalistic output during the years of his collaboration with the review Pensiero ed Arte within the column Letteratura, Arte e Critica was considerable. His articles ranged from theory and treatises to studies of art history and the history of architecture, and criticaI and technical essays. He used the pseudonym "Astragalo" for his serious writings and theoretical essays, which were already symptomatic of both his later scientific production and architectural modes and in which he delineated some of his explanatory variations on the arts. He used the pseudonym "Zambajon" for his social criticism articles, and used "Volando" for his essays. To this latter category belongs the article Arte Accademica e Arte Personale, an early manifesto of a program of the aesthetic reestablishment of a culture of architectural planning and artistic thinking. In 1882 he wrote, in the form of a treatise (not completed, and published in 1891), Architettura: dei suoi principi e del suo rinnovamento in which he rehandled made coherent his ideas on architectural planning and the history of "styles," providing it with numerous architectonic sketches, facade elements, and geometrical shapes that explain the optical relations between straight lines and systems of perspective constructions.
Of interest, also, are his dissertations on coeval architectural planning, such as Il Concorso per il Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele in Torino (1879), Sulla costruzione dei teatri: Le dimensioni e l'ordinamento dei palchi in rispondenza al costume italiano (1883), Sui mezzi atti a garantire la sicurez¬za dei teatri in caso d'incendio (1889), and Il Palazzo del Parlamento di Berlino. Notizie storiche, artistiche e tecniche (1889). Among his several memoirs of the bids projects he worked on, he published an article entitled Per il mio progetto del palazzo di Giustizia e per l'Arte (1884) as an answer to the observations on the style he had adopted. Lastly, his essay on Giacomo Serpotta (1656-1732) (in R. Lentini, Le sculture e gli stucchi di Giacomo Serpotta, Torino 1911) is remarkable, and one of the first critical and historic