11.13.2007

piranesi's continuing influence



Although Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) is best known today as the supreme master of the art of etching, his early training and lifelong concerns as an architect and designer were essential to his brilliance and versatility. His chosen profession as architect was the dominating factor throughout a highly productive career of nearly forty years, which included not only the graphic arts, archaeology, and polemical debate, but also interior design, decorative arts and the restoration of classical antiquities.


Piranesi as Designer (on view at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum through January 20, 2008) examines the artist's role in the reform of architecture and design from the 18th century to the present. This is the first museum exhibition to show Piranesi's full range and influence as a designer of architecture, elaborate interiors and exquisite furnishings. On view are etchings, original drawings and prints by Piranesi, as well as a selection of three-dimensional objects. In addition to his better-known architectural projects, Piranesi also designed fantastic chimneypieces, carriage works, furniture, light fixtures and other decorative pieces.


The impact he had on subsequent generations of architects and designers was profound. His manifold influence continued throughout the nineteenth century, evident in both architecture and stage design, and then reemerged in twentieth-century film-set design. Today, Piranesi’s ideas have surfaced in the work of leading architects such as the Postmodernists Michael Graves, Robert A. M. Stern, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, as well as in the Deconstructivist work of Peter Eisenman and Daniel Libeskind.




Piranesi as Designer is the first museum exhibition to present Piranesi’s full range and significance as a designer, by means of etchings, original drawings and objects. The core of this exhibition has been drawn from the riches of the Smithsonian Institution and from New York City public collections, most notably from the Cooper-Hewitt, Morgan, and Avery Libraries.




Featured alongside these drawings is an unprecedented display of objects gathered from prestigious collections around the world, especially the magnificent chimneypiece and pier table from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Together, this testament to Piranesi’s continuing influence eloquently conveys the impact of historic design on the present (italicized for extra-super emphasis - consider it a virtual hit over the head).



Pier table designed for Cardinal Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, ca. 1768. This carved and gilt wood table, together with its pendant (in the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts), were integral elements of the lost state rooms of Monsignor Giambattista Rezzonico in the Quirinal Palace. Ornamented by stylized natural forms from antiquity.







Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is located on Museum Mile, at the corner of 91st Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City.

:Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; check out the stunning exhibition website here

4 comments:

studio wellspring said...

thank you so much for the great info lesson on piranesi. i love to learn such interesting new things and your perspective is so thoughtful.

ALL THE BEST said...

Great post and information! Thank you!!

patricia gray said...

What a great post, so informative and well written. Thanks, I learnt something new.

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