Geometries of Silence

Three Approaches to Neoclassical Art

Anna Ottani Cavina

Columbia University Press

Geometries of Silence

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Pub Date: December 2004

ISBN: 9780231132084

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£47.00

Geometries of Silence

Three Approaches to Neoclassical Art

Anna Ottani Cavina

Columbia University Press

Based on little-known or hitherto unpublished material and enhanced by a wealth of rarely seen illustrations, this book offers access to the aesthetics of neoclassical Europe from a new perspective: landscape painting and interior decoration. The source documents, together with the nexus of relationships they helped to establish, reveal a world shaken by a series of epochal changes. This study of paintings, drawings, and documents touches on such themes as the rediscovery of the ancient world, aristocratic homes in the neoclassical period, and the birth of the rationalist landscape. While the most important artists are French, the chosen vantage point is Rome, because of the impact of antiquity on aesthetic perceptions toward the end of the century. The book insightfully analyzes the last years of the eighteenth century through the visual representation of that world, a world that has been handed down to us through the response of contemporary artists to momentous changes.

This book portrays drawing as an instrument of knowledge: an absolute experience, not merely an intermediate phase in the production of a painting. Anna Ottani Cavina leads us to modernity, which through the rarefaction of the image, silence, and emptiness attained heights of emotional and intellectual intensity that drawing was able to capture with extraordinary immediacy.
Many years ago, Emil Kauffman illuminated the topic of the architects of the Age of Reason; Anna Ottani Cavina's [title] is a new episode of the very same history, the history of modernity. Enrico Castelnuovo, L'Indice
The success of Anna Ottani Cavina's enterprise, allowing us henceforth to look differently at some luminous drawings and paintings, makes one yearn all the more to be able one day to look at the ambitious history paintings of the late eighteenth-century with the same penetration and sympathy. Philippe Bordes, Burlington Magazine
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Antiquity as Future: The Past as a Model for Aesthetic Renewal
2. Living in the "Ancient Style": European Residences and the Italian Model
3. Landscapes of Reason: The Quest for Basic Geometric Forms in Landscape Painting from David to Corot
Notes
Index

About the Author

Anna Ottani Cavina heads the Fondazione Federico Zeri, a center for advanced studies in art history at the University of Bologna, and teaches at The Johns Hopkins University (Bologna Center). Awarded the Légion d'honneur in 2001, she has published books and curated exhibitions on Caravaggio and on the Neoclassical and Romantic periods. She also writes for the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. Under the direction of Umberto Eco, she created the visual arts program for a series of CD ROMs.