The project Piranesi and the Modern Age explores the impact of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) on literature, film, photography, art, architecture and urban planning in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It evolves around the idea that Piranesi’s etchings more than influenced the modern age, as the idea of the modern as such hinged on continuous re-interpretations of them.
Pioneers and movements of modernism and of modern culture at large, from cubism to deconstructivism, fell victim to the old master’s influence, challenging emerging technologies and expressions’ claim to novelty. In one field after the other Piranesi left an impact, but in slightly different ways, as if his oeuvre were a slowly turning kaleidoscope reflecting modernism’s own changing realities. Transcending the period they were made, print volumes such as Carceri (1750/61) and Campo Marzio (1762) appeared cutting-edge, even avant-garde, seemingly placing Piranesi more firmly in a twentieth-century development than in an eighteenth-century one. Tracing Piranesi’s many modern-age debuts, the historiography of our own times takes a slightly new and surprising path.
Led by Victor Plahte Tschudi, Piranesi and the Modern Age is a collaboration with several institutionsand individuals, including the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Designin Oslo. The exhibition Piranesi and the Modern Age, curated by Victor Plahte Tschudi and Wenche Volle, will inaugurate the new museum in 2022. A monograph with the same title is published by Tschudi on Princeton University Press in 2022. The project has also run the OCCAS elective course Piranesi and the Modern Age and produced seminars, lectures, and essays.