Spotlight on Giovanni Piranesi: Visual Invention in the 18th Century with Alexander McCargar

Spotlight on Giovanni Piranesi: Visual Invention in the 18th Century with Alexander McCargar


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi has fascinated architects, artists, designers, writers, and all kinds of creative thinkers for over two centuries. While he stands out as a singular genius, he did not exist in a vacuum. Many historians and art critics have used him as a jumping point for discussions of style, form, and architectural discourse and such intellectual circles were not foreign to Piranesi himself. Many aspects of his world and the other artists and architects who inhabited it had an instrumental impact on his development and ideas. 

In this seminar, we will explore the basic facts of Piranesi's life and development and the worlds in which he lived. One heavy source of inspiration for Piranesi we will dive into is that of stage designers such as the Bibiena family who wrote treatises on perspective and designed fantasy prisons for scenes foreshadowing Piranesi's own Carceri series. Also of great interest, and often pushed aside in favor of his etchings, are his incredible drawings which served not merely as studies for his prints but were his way of documenting and processing the world around him. 

Led by an expert on Scenography and Baroque Architecture, Alexander McCargar, this Conversation will introduce participants to the life and times of Piranesi. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how Piranesi fits into the culture of his time.

Alexander grew up in the greater Boston area and now lives in Vienna, Austria. He earned a MFA from Yale School of Drama and previously studied Architecture and Art History at Rhode Island School of Design. He has been awarded numerous grants to study the history of visual culture including a Fulbright Scholarship and a Beinecke Library Research Fellowship. He enjoys traveling and is always eager to learn new things.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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