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Archive for March 8th, 2012

I consider my landscapes to be internal, which is to say imaginary. Places that represent a place where I wish to be or at least have the feeling of it in my real world.  Places that act as refuge from the sometime harshness of the real world.  Giovanni Bauttista Piranesi had a much different sort of internal world.  Piranesi (1720-1778) was an Italian artist who gained fame for his engravings of the views and architecture of Ancient Rome.  He meticulously measured the ruins of Rome and would recreate them as they had once stood.  Beautiful work.

But he is also well known for a series of engravings issued  in 1745 and reworked and reissued in 1761.  These were his Carceri  d’invenzione, or Imaginary Prisons.  They were dark and foreboding visions of cavernous subterranean prisons with twisted , strange stairways that foretell the work of the M.C. Escher and ominous machines of torture.  Over the centuries they were cited as being very influential on the writers and artists of the Romantic and Surrealist movements. 

They’re very intriguing and they are filled with layers of detail, the result of his time spent among the architectural wonders and ruins of Rome.  There is a site, CGFA, which has the entire series of prints online.  Below is a wonderful video created by Gregoire Dupond that takes you on an animated  journey though the details of these internal  prisons. It’s really interesting and worth a look.  It’s in high-definition so you can put it up full screen to capture all the details.  

Piranesi Carceri d’Invenzione from Grégoire Dupond on Vimeo.

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