Giambattista Piranesi (1720-1778) was a printmaker, architect, antiquarian, art dealer, theorist, and designer—one of the foremost artistic personalities of the 18th century, whose views of Rome remain the city’s defining image. Fresh, thought-provoking, and innovative, Piranesi, Rome, and the Arts of Design sets out to show the range of the artist’s genius in a 21st-century approach to his creative endeavors. More than 300 original prints have been selected from the world renowned collection of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy. These prints are combined with modern-day interpretations in new technologies such as video, photography, and digital modeling. Utilizing the most advanced technologies, the exhibition enables Piranesi’s two-dimensional renderings of a monumental vase, a candelabrum, tripods, a teapot, an altar, and a fireplace to assume their rightful three-dimensional forms. These never-before-seen and never-before-crafted objects take center stage in the exhibition and attest to the creative intellect of Piranesi’s designs. In addition, the exhibition brings to life Piranesi’s most famous works, the Carceri (Prisons), in the form of a virtual reality 3-D installation. The legendary Caffè degli Inglesi is represented as a full scale evocation, and visitors may browse through Piranesi’s sketchbooks using a touchscreen monitor. Strikingly designed by world renowned architect Michele De Lucchi, the exhibition embodies the progressive spirit of Piranesi’s own eclectic visions and his modernity, emphasizing the popular appeal of his work and its continuing relevance to designers and architects. Having previously appeared at the Fondazione Cini in Venice and at the Caixa Forum in Madrid and Barcelona, the show makes its only U.S. stop at The San Diego Museum of Art.

Exhibition conceived by Michele De Lucchi, produced by Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Italy, together with Factum Arte, Spain, in collaboration with Exhibits Development Groups, USA.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri d’invenzione (prison), ca. 1761. Etching.