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Magnificent Architectural Space - Essay Example

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Magnificent Architectural Space, the eighteenth-century print by Giovanni Battista Piranesi depicts a rhythmic progression of columns leading toward a center rotunda. The grandeur of perspective is emphasized by the light and shadow effects and the height of arcs comparative to the miniature figures of people.
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Download file to see previous pages Its significance can be assessed as two-fold, first from the standpoint of this particular work in the Piranese artistic development, and second - from a stance of considering the role of Piranese in the etching movement, and his influence on contemporary environment.
This print belongs to the early works of Piranesi, when he was concentrating on revealing the beauty of architectural forms and his desire to create impossible spaces was just emerging. Being an aspiring architect putting together a living as an engraver in Rome, Piranesi was inspired by his early encounter with the ancient city. It was an experience that significantly shaped his highly personal work as an architect, etcher, and designer.
The series the Prima Parte di Architteture e Prospettive, which includes Magnificent Architectural Space, was first published in 1743. Modern editors, Andrew Robison and John Wilton-Ely, agree that it is a truly extraordinary collection of prints, a publication that demonstrates how quickly and deeply the young artist had absorbed, and in many ways transcended, the graphic and architectural models available to him during the early 1740s (Giovanni Battista Piranesi 1972 p.117).
According to scholar John Wilton-Ely, the distinguishing characteristics of Piranesi's early works were "the unorthodox combination of classical motifs, the manipulation of superhuman scale, the organization of powerfully receding perspectives upon diagonal axes, and the modulation of space by means of skilful lighting"(Wilton-Ely 1994 p.23). John Wilton-Ely also highlights that Piranesi was the first to convey the "layering of historical change" within a single image, normally by inserting letters of the alphabet against relevant parts of a building's structure; the letters, in turn, refer to extended captions within or outside of the print block.
Colin F. Madigan emphasizes the impact of Piranesi's early works on the contemporary environment by pointing out that the prints "expressing the chaotic richness of the classical world were displayed in gentlemen's houses in Europe and their influence on the design of buildings and furniture at that time was significant" (Madigan 1982 n/p).
Moreover, the artistic value of the Magnificent Architectural Space should be assessed from the standpoint of the corresponding stage of the etching historical development. If we stop at eighteen hundred and look back at the prints that have been made up to that time, one of the outstanding characteristics of the movement represented in them seems to have been a gradual withdrawal from print making by the more important artists (Ivins 1969 p.96). The number of masters making prints with their own hands dropped significantly and Piranesi was one of the few representatives of this movement in the eighteen hundred.
Piranesi etched and published numerous folio print sets of art, architecture and archaeology of Rome that served as source material for other architects and designers. After the artist's death, his son Francesco took the plates to Paris and continued publishing his father's work between ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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