Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Piranesi prints

I am pleased, finally to present a Piranesi image in a large size. If you click on this you should get an idea of what they really look like. In the time before reproductions were common, things looked like, well, they looked like what they looked like. But now there is a phenomenon to be aware of, that things are often quite different in the flesh that you might think. I have been surprised to see a painting in a museum that I thought I knew and discovered it was very small. or large. There are painters whose work I like shrunk in reproduction and when I see them in real life I am disappointed by their looseness. Gruppe is an example of that
(for me, maybe not for you, its a matter of taste). Either way reproducing this etching large gives a better idea of what the thing really looks like. Please do click on that and see the thing in more like actual size. The others on this page will not be as large.

I want to make a few remarks on the etching above. Below you see a version on which I have drawn a few lines. As you can see Piranesi has "blocked" off his corners. Entrance to each corner is discouraged by a curving arc that redirects your gaze around and into the center part of the image. They are also each different enough from the other that they don't look really repetitive. They also bear a rhythmic relationship to each other. They impart a sort of spin or acceleration .
Within that outer group of enclosing arcs, I might call them curbs, is an inner decorative group of semicircular arcs that run across the picture plane rather than around its edges. Here they are.The whole assembly is very formal and very rhythmic, there is a love of geometry for its abstract appearance as much as for anything it describes. I can imagine a contemporary abstract painting built around those same arcing lines.Above is another that has a different pattern of arching lines. Notice how the line of the rope swagged to the left of the painting counters the ached doorway to the lower right of the image. I am reminded of the call and response motif that goes on in blues. One voice will sing something and another will echo it with a contrasting variant.There is a dialogue between those two shapes. The idea was common when I was in art school that design was solely the province of "modern" painting and the old ones were simply about what they represented. That is certainly not the case with Piranesi. Here is another with a nice big image when clicked upon;

There is a big arc placed asymmetrically across the top and the same swagged rope design going on here too. It is another variant on the same design game, opposing arcs that echo each other in opposite. There are a few unhappy wretches chained to the woodwork in this one. You can't hear it in the print but they are being subjected to a medley of Bobby Goldsboro hits including both "Honey" and "Wildfire" which while similar, are actually separate tunes.

Piranesi made thousands of etchings, he was a workaholic and died in his studio. When you look through the folios of his work they seem endless and most are very intricate. Many are pictures of ornamental vases and architectural embellishments And of course there are lots of Roman ruins.I will return tomorrow with more.


Mary Bullock said...

I always loved the song "Honey".

Philip Koch said...

Courage is my middle name- yes, I clicked on the Bobby Goldsboro link and listened ALL the way through. Others turn away, but I face the demon head on....

Stapleton Kearns said...

I just don't know what to say, I am so sorry,I try to be nice and now I have upset you. I will walk on one foot for a week, I promise.

Stapleton Kearns said...

but what the heck?

Unknown said...

I hope my private detective fares better than those wretches. Philip, you are braver than me. I just couldn't bear to open that video.

Unknown said...

Though, that hairdo is pretty cool.

Knitting Out Loud said...

Piranesi is great! Have always loved him, the ruins of Rome series in particular. There was a fashion for ruins. Loved your comment on not being solitary as an artist - but you forgot to recommend going to museums?

Deborah Paris said...

I'm not as brave as Philip- had to click off at 1:39. Oh, the hair! said...

Piranesi seems to have developed a rhythm, design and geometry in te Carceri series. He also puts a strong visual element in the lower left hand corners of his work, a mass of dark details,an arch of an area of high contrast.

Did I miss something because the last engraving on the December 11th post does not look like his work. Is it? Is it from an earlier student time? It doesn't have the design quality nor is it commanding in any way and does not have a full range of values. What was the story on that ruin engraving.We all do things that don't quite fit into our manner but this seems so off to me.

Stapleton, I wanted to touch briefly on "paint handling" again. It's true that paint handling alone does not make the painting art. However, subject after subject matter has already been handled by the great historic painters. So it seems to me that it becomes more difficult to establish one's reputation on subject matter (or the subject or the narrative or the picture) alone. In the end,isn't it their paint handling that distinguishes one artist from one another especially if they capturing the same subject or image, say something like Mt. Washington. No?

billspaintingmn said...

As a kid I spent some times out on the farm.
Cliff,(the farmer) would not allow
the radio to play "wildfire" during
milking,as the cows wouldn't give (produce) as much milk.
Not joking, this is true!
I didn't know a cow could control
the milk flow!?
So I think of that when I see Bobby!( Because I don't hear him;)

Stapleton Kearns said...

I seem to have misplaced the detective.Can't find him anywhere.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I should have included going to museums, in groups!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have some problems with my own hair.

Stapleton Kearns said...

No that's a real Pirnesi, I pulled it from one of his folios. Its is of the temple of Vesta.
I will write a post in reply to your question. Might be tonight , maybe this week. It is a good provocative question.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You were probably listening to WDGY weren't you.