Battista Piranesi - A Modern Visionary
Giovanni Battista (also Giambattista Piranesi), 4 October 1720 –
9 November 1778, was an Italian artist, famous for his etchings of Rome and a series of 16 prints of "Imaginary Prisons" (Le Carceri d'Invenzione) that show enormous subterranean vaults with stairs and mighty machines.
His images greatly influenced Romanticism and Surrealism. While the Vedutisti (or "view makers") such as Canaletto and Bellotto, more often reveled in the beauty of the sunlit place, in Piranesi this vision takes on what from a modern perspective could be called a Kafkaesque distortion, seemingly erecting fantastic labyrinthine structures, epic in volume. They are capricci, whimsical aggregates of monumental architecture and ruin.