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Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s unforgettable images of Rome on show in Melbourne

The largest Australian exhibition of Piranesi opens at the State Library of Victoria on February 22nd

Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s unforgettable images of Rome on show in Melbourne

Claudia Astarita

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Rome: Piranesi's vision is a stunning exhibition showcasing Piranesi's unforgettable images of classical and baroque Rome, revealing his deep passion for Roman classical architecture and his unsurpassed printmaking skills.

This unique event 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.

The Italian artist 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, describes the event as "the largest exhibition of Piranesi's work ever seen in Australia [...] Piranesi's influence in the art world is as strong today as it ever has been - his legacy is enormous".

It is surprising to learn that this exhibition draws 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.

Curated by Dr Colin Holden, Rome: Piranesi's vision will open to the public during White Night Melbourne 2014, Melbourne's hugely popular night-time cultural festival. Beyond that, the exhibition has been complemented by a full events program, sumptuous publication and satellite exhibitions. Among them, the Viva L'Italia initiative (Italian Cultural Day), on April 13th, a day during which families will be welcomed to 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.

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