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On 20 June 2020Piranesi Rome Basilico will open to the public. In the year of the Architecture Biennale, the exhibition celebrates the fascination of Rome by comparing the ancient city in Piranesi’s etchings and the contemporary capital captured in Gabriele Basilico’s photographs.

To mark the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giambattista Piranesi (Venice, 1720 – Rome, 1778), the Fondazione Giorgio Cini is paying tribute to the great Venetian artist in the exhibition Piranesi Rome Basilico, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, director of the Institute of Art History, in collaboration with the Archivio Gabriele Basilico. From 20 June  to 23 November 2020, the second floor of the Palazzo Cini Gallery at San Vio will host a comparison of lyrical cityscapes of Rome featuring the historic etchings of Giambattista Piranesi and the modern photography of Gabriele Basilico. Visitors will thus have the chance to see a previously unseen selection of the work of the great landscape photographer, commissioned by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in 2010.

Thanks to Assicurazioni Generali, the Gallery’s main partner since it reopened in 2014 and for many years a patron of the Fondazione Cini, the exhibition season will continue until 23 November 2020.

Piranesi Rome Basilico returns to the figure of Piranesi as vedutista, explored in the exhibition The Arts of Piranesi, conceived by the Fondazione Cini in 2010, with an original interpretation of his views of Rome set beside the work of the contemporary landscape photographer Gabriele Basilico.

Visitors will be able to admire some of the great symbolic landmarks of the eternal city in twenty-five original prints made in the 18th century by the Venetian engraver, selected from the complete corpus preserved in the Cini graphic art collections,  and in twenty-six views of Rome by the Milanese photographer, taken from the same viewpoint as the Piranesi etchings, including twelve not shown in the exhibition The Arts of Piranesi. Architect, Etcher, Vedutista, Designer, staged at the Fondazione Cini in 2010.

Inspired by writer Marguerite Yourcenar’s wonderful description of Giambattista Piranesi in the early 1960s, Basilico took his camera to all the sites of Piranesi’s views to capture their extraordinary modernity.

The corpus of Piranesi etchings is one of the largest graphic art collections by the Venetian artist kept in a private institution. It has been preserved intact thanks to Vittorio Cini’s far-sighted, generous decision in the 1970s to acquire it as a whole for the Institute of Art History, where it is still the subject of study today.

Piranesi Rome Basilico will not only be an enthralling exhibition for the general public. It will also provide an opportunity to visit the Palazzo Cini and explore a hitherto partly unknown aspect of the large Fondazione Cini collections in the fascinating, lively setting of a house museum.

Published by Contrasto in 2019, the catalogue is edited by the Institute of Art History and is conceived as a homage by the Fondazione Cini to the great photographer who died in 2013. It brings together all the photos taken by Basilico for The Arts of Piranesi project and includes writings by Luca Massimo Barbero, Mario Bevilacqua, Michele De Lucchi, Pasquale Gagliardi, Alessandro Martoni and Roberta Valtorta, plus a conversation between Gabriele Basilico and film director Amos Gitai.

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini and its Institute of Art History are also taking part in the Piranesi celebrations by lending sixteen precious prints of Piranesi’s Prisons of Invention, an integral part of the Foundation’s graphic art collections. The prints will be shown from 4 April to 27 July 2020 in the exhibition Giambattista Piranesi. Visions of a Timeless Architect, curated by Chiara Casarin and Pierluigi Panza at the Palazzo Sturm in Bassano del Grappa.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini Onlus

Palazzo Cini,

Campo San Vio,

Dorsoduro 864 Venice, Italy


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