Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Italian, 1720–1778

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Italian, 1720–1778

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Followers
Biography

Printmaker, engraver, and antiquarian Giovanni Battista Piranesi once said: “I need to produce great ideas, and I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it.” This would prove an apt description of the fantastical architectural prints he became famous for. An ardent lover of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture, Piranesi was the son of a stonemason and builder, and first studied drawing with his uncle, an engineer. (In fact, Piranesi considered himself an architect.) His drawings and etchings demonstrate a sophisticated ability in manipulating perspective and architectural elements for dramatic effect. Piranesi’s subjects not only included imaginings of ancient buildings, but also ominous prisons and mysterious ruins. His works were so popular that the prints were sold to Grand Tourists even after his death.

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Solo show at a major institution
Dallas Museum of Art, and 1 more
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Group show at a major institution
Tate Britain, and 5 more
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Collected by a major institution
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and 2 more
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Flash Art
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Manifesta
Biography

Printmaker, engraver, and antiquarian Giovanni Battista Piranesi once said: “I need to produce great ideas, and I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it.” This would prove an apt description of the fantastical architectural prints he became famous for. An ardent lover of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture, Piranesi was the son of a stonemason and builder, and first studied drawing with his uncle, an engineer. (In fact, Piranesi considered himself an architect.) His drawings and etchings demonstrate a sophisticated ability in manipulating perspective and architectural elements for dramatic effect. Piranesi’s subjects not only included imaginings of ancient buildings, but also ominous prisons and mysterious ruins. His works were so popular that the prints were sold to Grand Tourists even after his death.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
User
Solo show at a major institution
Dallas Museum of Art, and 1 more
Group
Group show at a major institution
Tate Britain, and 5 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Flash Art
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Manifesta
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