Exhibition: Piranesi at the Hermitage

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 3, 2012

From the Hermitage:

Ruins, Palaces and Prisons: Piranesi and Italian Eighteenth-Century Architectural Fantasies
State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 7 December 2011 — 25 March 2012

Curated by A.V. Ippolitov, M.F. Korshunova, and V.M. Uspenskiy

Piranesi, Title page of the 'Carceri' series, 1749-1750

On December 7th, 2011, Saint Catherine’s day, the State Hermitage Museum welcomed an exhibition entitled Ruins, Palaces and Prisons: Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Italian Eighteenth-Century Architectural Fantasies, dedicated to the early period of Piranesi’s work. This exhibit is being held as part of the Year of Italy in Russia and Year of Russia in Italy 2011 program, which continues tradition of partnership and cooperation between the two countries in the fields of art and culture.

This exhibition, presenting about 100 drawings and prints from the collection of the Hermitage, is divided into two parts: the first is dedicated to Piranesi and will present the series entitled Prima Parte (“Prima Parte “), Grotteschi (“Grotesques”) and Carceri (“Dungeons”) in their rare original condition, which have never been published in Russia before. All of them are from the 1750 album Opere Varie, which was acquired by the Empress Catherine the Great in 1768 as part of the collection of Count Bruhl and became the basis of the graphic arts collection of the Hermitage. The Carceri is presented in two conditions; the early one, from the Bruhl
collection, and a later one which was extensively revised. This is the first
time this sort of juxtaposition has been presented in Russia.

Piranesi, "Drawbridge," A page from the 'Carceri' series, 1749-1750

The second part consist of drawings by Italian artists of the 18th century who worked as scene decorators, designers and architects and created the unique genre of imaginative Veduta, which is important for understanding the style of the settecento, as the 18th century is called in Italian, a unique and complex phenomenon. Imaginative Veduta is represented by the work of the Galli Bibiena family, G. Valeriani, Pietro Gonzaga, G. Barbari, G. Mannocchi, many of which are being published for the first time. The phenomenon of Piranesi’ early fantasies is put in the context of a unique genre, and is examined at this exhibit as original sources, as is the influence of the Piranesi phenomenon on the later development of imaginative Veduta.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) has an enduring place in the history or art as an artist who defined European art in the mid 18th- early 19th century. Piranesi is acknowledged as a reformer of public taste and one of the progenitors of neoclassicism, which might be called the Avant Garde of the 18th century, and as such his name is associated with this movement. However, while the series of etching entitled Carceri (dungeons), a procession of frightening, inexplicable and obscure images was not well known in the artist’s life, was many decades ahead of its time. Carceri become of the works of art most beloved by modernism. This series, which was not particularly popular during Piranesi’s life, a rediscovery of Romanticism attracted writers, architects, directors then and continues to do so now not only with its unusual subject matter, but also with its unusual spatial construction, which reminds one not of real architecture, but of the unreal space of a dream or hallucination. (more…)

Exhibition: Herculaneum at the Hermitage

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 3, 2012

From the Hermitage:

Herculaneum Antiquities
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 16 December 2011 — 12 February 2012

Curated by Stefano de Caro, Anna Trofimova, and Elena Borisovna Ananich

"Architectural Landscape," fresco from the Augusteum in Herculaneum, 65-79 (National Archaeological Museum of Naples)

On 17 December 2011, as part of the Year of Italy in Russia and Year of Russia in Italy, an exhibit entitled Herculaneum Antiquities opened in the State Hermitage Museum in the General Staff Building; it was jointly organized by the State Hermitage Museum, the Ministry for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of Naples and Pompeii with the support of the Italian embassy in Moscow, and Consulate General in St. Petersburg. This is the first exhibit to give the Russian public a chance to view these world-famous works of classical sculpture, discovered at the ancient city of Herculaneum, which like Pompeii and Stabia, perished during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and was also well preserved.

All of these artifacts, which once decorated the so-called Basilica or Augusteum (a building for ceremonies of the Imperial cult), are now held in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. At this exhibit, they have been brought together in one place, as a united whole, with additional cartographic materials, reconstructions, data from archaeological and historical research, which make it possible to get a sense of how Augusteum might have looked two thousand years ago and in what sequence and part of the building the exhibit items were placed. (more…)

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