Rome: Piranesi’s vision, the largest Australian exhibition of work from one of Europe’s best known and respected printmakers, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, opens at the State Library of Victoria on 22 February 2014.

Rome: Piranesi's vision

This major exhibition showcases Piranesi’s unforgettable images of classical and baroque Rome, revealing his deep passion for Roman classical architecture and his unsurpassed printmaking skills.

Drawing on the rich collections of the State Library and the University of Melbourne, together with loans from the National Gallery of Victoria and private lenders, Rome shows how Piranesi’s work captures the essence of Rome and the era of the Grand Tour with his elaborate images revealing a city of extreme contrasts: grand churches, imposing palaces and monumental ruins peopled by aristocrats, tourists, priests and beggars.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 78) is widely regarded as the most important engraver and printmaker of the 18th century and the greatest architectural artist of all time. His extraordinary prints are treasured by artists, galleries, libraries and collectors throughout the world, in particular his Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) series of 135 oversized prints which have become iconic images. Many of these significant works will be on display in the exhibition. It will also feature his rare early works and his dramatic, surreal prisons.

Sue Roberts, CEO and State Librarian said this is a landmark exhibition revealing globally significant collections held in Melbourne.

‘This is the largest exhibition of Piranesi’s work ever seen in Australia and many will be surprised to learn it is built from our own collections. The numerous bound volumes of his work held by the State Library of Victoria and the Baillieu Library of the University of Melbourne constitute one of the most important combined collections of eighteenth-century works in Australia.

Our partnership with the Library of University of Melbourne has allowed us to create an exhibition of global importance and one that will fire the imaginations of all who see it.’

Rome: Piranesi’s vision is curated by Dr Colin Holden, whose research as the 2010 Redmond Barry Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and the University Library led to the creation of this exhibition. Dr Holden is a Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne.

Rome: Piranesi’s vision will open to the public during White Night Melbourne 2014, Melbourne’s hugely popular night-time cultural festival.

Sue Roberts said White Night is a great time to unveil the exhibition.

‘Piranesi’s influence in the art world is as strong today as it ever has been – his legacy is enormous.  I’m very excited that people coming to White Night will have the chance to view this wonderful exhibition. It will be a highlight for art lovers.’

Rome: Piranesi’s vision will be complemented by a full events program, sumptuous publication and satellite exhibitions.

ROME: Piranesi’s vision is presented by the State Library of Victoria in partnership with the Library of University of Melbourne. The exhibition is sponsored by CO.AS.IT, the Italian Institute of Culture and ASA Cultural Tours.

Rome: Piranesi’s vision
Saturday 22 February 2014 – Sunday 22 June 2014
Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St. Melbourne

Rome: Piranesi’s vision
associated events:

Exhibition floor talks

Piranesi and the Grand Tour: curator’s view
Thursday 6 March 2014, 1:00pm – 1:45pm

What is it like to be an 18th-century aristocrat on the Grand Tour? Join the Marquis de Marigny, Madame de Pompadour’s brother (a regular at the court of Louis XV) for an introduction to Rome: Piranesi’s vision. Featuring curator Colin Holden (in character!).

Piranesi: artist and printmaker
Friday 7 March 2014, 1:00pm – 1:45pm

Join curator Colin Holden for a tour of Piranesi’s majestic works of Roman ruins, baroque cityscapes and fantastical prisons.

ASA Grand Tour Lecture Series

Thursday 27 March 2014, 6pm – 7pm

Thursday 10 April 2014, 6pm – 7pm

Thursday 1 May 2014, 6pm – 7pm

On the Library forecourt

Roman piazza
Friday 28 February 2014, 12:00pm – 2:00pm

Inspired by our Rome: Piranesi’s vision exhibition, the Library forecourt becomes a Roman piazza. Come and enjoy pizza and gelato, and even play some bocce!

Join curator Colin Holden for a tour of Piranesi’s majestic works of Roman ruins, baroque cityscapes and fantastical prisons.

Viva L’Italia (Italian Cultural Day)
Sunday 13 April 2014, 11.00am -4.00pm

Inspired by Scampagnata (the picnic) which has been a popular Italian activity for centuries, a day of free activities where families can relax amongst the olive trees and listen to strolling accordion players, play a game of Bocce and enjoy the traditional Italian picnic food. Children can learn how to say their name in Italian and learn the names of the different shaped pasta as well as decorating masks, making mosaics and building the Colosseum out of Lego.

Associated exhibitions and conferences

The Piranesi effect
18 February – 24 May 2014
Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne

This exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art explores the ongoing role of Piranesi’s work in the practice of Australian contemporary artists such as Constanze Zikos and Rick Amor.  More information.

A traveller’s dream: Piranesi and Rome
26 February – 26 April 2014
Italian Cultural Institute. 233 Domain Road, South Yarra.

Be inspired by contemporary photographs of sites depicted in Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma. This exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute, featuring work by leading Italian photographer Graziano Panfili, will demonstrate the wondrous transformation of the city from ancient capital to modern metropolis.

Guerra e Amore
Friday 31 January 2014 – Sunday 15 June 2014
State Library of Victoria

These two remarkable large-scale print works by artist Angela Cavalieri are inspired by the artist’s love of the Italian language and the architectural drawings and prints of Piranesi. Melbourne-based artist Angela Cavalieri was a 2012-13 State Library of Victoria Creative Fellow.

Free Conference: Piranesi and the impact of the late baroque
27–28 February 2014
Australian Institute of Australian History, University of Melbourne

Join key Australian and international speakers as they explore the work and influence of Piranesi and his studio on visual arts, architecture and culture from the 18th century until the present day.  More information.

Exhibition book

Piranesi’s grandest tour: from Europe to Australia
Colin Holden, NewSouth Publishing in association with the State Library of Victoria $59.99

Piranesi is famous for his etchings of real and imaginary buildings – Roman ruins, baroque cityscapes and fantastical prisons. More than a history, this book weaves a fascinating story about an artist, his work, and the influence he continues to have across the world, centuries after his death. The book also reveals the story of the Australian collectors of Piranesi’s work and his influence on our artists, from Russell Drysdale to Rick Amor and Marco Luccio.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Nothing has excited my imagination more than viewing Piranesi prints in the Saturday Age. Looking forward to the exhibition.

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