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Piranesi: Complete Etchings Paperback – 26 May 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 799 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen GmbH; 01 edition (26 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3822866202
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822866207
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 4.7 x 25.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,593,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Piranesi was as savage as Salvator Rosa, fierce as Michelangelo, and exuberant as Rubens... he has imagined scenes that would startle geometry and exhaust the Indies to realize." --Horace Walpole" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Luigi Ficacci studied Art History in Rome under Guilio Carlo Argan. He is curator at the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome and lectures at different Italian universities. The focal points of his research work are the issues raised by 17th and 18th century and contemporary Italian art. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I happened to see some Piranesi prints as part of a Turner exhibition in Edinburgh this year. I thought they were amazing & wanted to know & see more. I am not an art expert so I didnt want anything too in depth and really wanted to centre on the etchings themselves, particularly as my second love is anything Roman. This book gives a wonderful introduction & background. The only slight disappointment is that I hoped the etchings would be slightly larger so you could see the detail better. That said, its a wonderful collection for both enthusiaists and passer bys such as myself
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Format: Hardcover
It's important to review one's failures, as well as the books one likes; I bought this in hope and confident of the Taschen brand, and sadly it is now on the way to the charity shop. So what is so wrong with it?

Piranesi's etchings (which I love) are moody and atmospheric. I was hoping for a book which captured the force of the originals. Here, Taschen have printed as many of the etchings as humanly possible in a book which is, though thick, not very large. The result is that the prints are crammed in, too small, and one can neither see the detail nor appreciate the impact of the whole. I am short-sighted and don't have any difficulties with fine print; anyone with the long sight of age would probably want a magnifying glass.

There is nothing wrong with the scholarly text, but the fact that each page is printed in three languages (as is each caption) means there is not as much of it as there first seems, and again the print is small and rather faint. In all honesty it never claims to be more than an introduction.

If you are a student or scholar, looking for a reference collection of the etchings at a modest price, then this is the book for you. As an artist, I found it unsatisfactory and, ultimately, too frustrating.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Piranesi book on the artist are very rare and they might be only a couple that really around and what I am really saying about any books on Piranesi any one is worth while purchase because they at time so little published on the great artist however this should not be the case they should me way more.
With previous reviewers posts are a bit harsh the book I have is more than worth the money paid for and excellent value especially for it contents rarely do you get a book that has a volume of Piranesi work and how refreshing seeing the works again after a year ago seeing the work up close I seen them at Edinbrugh National Gallery so it the reasion I gave full stairs the book should be one the books that all artist should be proud to be on the bookselves along with there other influnces
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the difference between the two editions 9 Nov. 2007
By Pimm - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is just a warning to those of you purchasing the in-print $11 version of this book, which Amazon carelessly has listed as the same as the out-of-print paperback version. The in-print version is NOT the complete etchings, and the only reason the reviews here suggest that it is is because Amazon has, as I have already said, linked the two editions, which are totally different. The in-print version is HIGHLY abridged, and is less than half as long as the older version. I was hoping the images were simply smaller, but this is indeed NOT the case. This edition has less than half the number of images as the older edition.
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taschen Bücher has done it again ! 9 Aug. 2000
By Danny De Raymaeker - Published on
Format: Paperback
Yes, Taschen Bücher has done it again : a marvelous art book at an unbelievable price !
The Venetian Piranesi (1720-1778) prided himself on being an architect attributing to his profession the power to revolutionize the world, but oddly he never got the opportunity to build anything. Instead he developed an almost unparalleled mastery of the art of engraving and became an active archaeologist, a zealot defending the claim of Roman antiquity's architectural superiority to that of (a.o.) ancient Greece. He never realized his artistic ambitons : restoring Rome with architecture worthy of its ancient glory. Instead he had to economically support himself by publishing and selling an amazing amount of etchings.
The series he is most known for in our time are on the one hand the "Carceri", a set of darkly haunting fantastic prison scenes that plays with perspective in a way that preludes the work of Escher. On the other hand there are the "Vedute di Roma" : breathtakingly executed sights of Rome that exemplify Piranesi's vision of a dilapidated Rome at the same time in awe of and suffocated by its architectural heritage.
There is however far more to Piranesi's art, as is abundantly shown in these "Complete Etchings". Over a thousand etchings are grouped in this delightful book and they show the staggering breadth and depth of the artist's interests and ambitions. The reproductions are simply marvelous : shown on a cream coloured background the artwork is reproduced with a stunning clarity and sharpness. No postage stamp size plates in this edition (as in so many other ghastly illustrated "Complete Works" endeavours) : maximum two etchings are reproduced per page allowing the reader to fully savour the manic detail of these graphic jewels.
Moreover this publication offers, apart from a short biography, a delightful index of all of Piranesi's subject matters. This allows the reader to easily look up the different treatments of a single building throughout the artist's career. This provides some fascinating insights. Take for instance the Roman Pantheon - a subject that Piranesi has treated no less than nine times : seven times he gives a fairly accurate contemporary picture of the building, once he shows it in its full original splendour and once - in the "Vedute" series - the stage set designer completely takes over from the conscientious documentalist and we get a view of the building's pronaos that is such an exuberant exaggeration of the temple's actual proportions that the human figures seem like ants dwarfed by the dark and looming columns of the building. Fascinating...
Is there nothing negative to be said about this edition ? Well, yes, of course, but given the splendid value for money this book provides you with, all criticism looks a bit like nitpicking. Still, here goes.
I would have liked a bit more detail in the biography written by L.Ficacci, especially about the nature of the intellectual debate Piranesi was so involved in and how he was perceived by his conteporaries - not just his competitors in the engraving business, but by the different factions of scholars participating in the debate. The reason why he never got a real architect's commission is also something that is tantalizingly avoided in this text (although I can imagine that patrons would have shied away after one look at the architectrual fantasies he put on paper : they make the stage sets of Cecil B.DeMille look subdued...).
Another point of criticism is that this book lets us see the eye of the artist, but fails to let us hear his voice. The author points out that the etchings were often not separate works of art but were published together with texts that intensively referred to the prints. However, not a single example of Piranesi's writings is offered in the entire book and that is a pity.
Finally, leafing through this book one often wonders which of the buildings in the etchings have survived to this day and which ones have not, when have they disappeared, where was their exact location and what have they been replaced with ? No answers are offered here. We'll just have to wait for somebody else to make an architectural guide for Rome based on Piranesi's artwork.
Forget the last three alineas and rush out to buy this book. It offers a unique opportunity to get to an in-depth knowledge of the work of one of the most fascinating 18th century Italian artists. The plates, with their seemingly endless detail will provide you with hours of visual delight.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive catalogue raisonne of Piranesi 4 July 2002
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Paperback
Despite the minimal written information, translated from Italian into both English and German, this very generous book does indeed live up to its title of The Complete Etchings. Giovanni Battista Piranesi lived and worked in the mid 18th century, dreaming of architecturally recreating Ancient Rome. Thwarted from his grandiose dreams by practical matters of living, he found a viable outlet for communicating at least his visions by means of making some of the finest etchings the printing world has known. Concepts he could not translate into edifices became grand, eloquent and very personal prints which even today influence artists and stage designers, so atmospheric and rich are the renderings. Piranesi thought on the grand scale, and these many etchings demonstrate how his sense of space, of dark interiors with penetrating shafts of light, of temples, of prisons and prisoners, and even details of architectural elements of decor could become fine art. Though the amount of information about the man as written here is minimal, I doubt that there was much more to this man's biography, so absorbed he was with markings on copper plates. But the lack of biographical data is more than compensated for in the accompanying information on the pages with each etching. This is a fine addition to the libraries of artists, printmakers, architects, and yes, Dreamers! Well worth the price.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DON'T BOTHER 2 Jun. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book may have all of Piranesi's work, but the pictures are ridiculously small. I returned it the day it came in the mail.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete survey 28 Aug. 2001
By Bruce Frier - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book contains all the output of Piranesi, which is what accounts for its thickness. The display is almost purely visual, with only the most minimal of text. The illustrations are clear but fairly small for the most part. I use the book all the time in identifying Piranesis, and I suppose that any serious collector will want to own it. But for any further purpose it's not useful. The index, unfortunately, is totally inadequate and hard to use. The source of this problem (and it is a major one) is that the book is aiming for a readership that also includes Italian, French, and German readers, which means that text has to be minimal.
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