The Notion of the “Neo”
The Samek Art Gallery, while housing a great deal of modern and contemporary art, also boasts some historic treasures within its collection storage! Therefore, this month’s case is highlighting two etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Veduta Interna Della Basilica di S. Pietro in Vaticano and The Temple of Venus and Roma. Now referred to as Neoclassic, Piranesi’s style revived the geometric harmony of antiquity and drew inspiration from the sociopolitical climate of Europe during the eighteenth century, as well as from the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Let’s consider, what do Piranesi’s etchings reveal about Neoclassic ideals? How does the 18th Century notion of the new or “neo” compare to contemporary revival styles, i.e. Neo-Dada, Neo-Avant-Garde, Neo-Geo. Has art history in the broadest sense not come as far as we thought in the last 250 years?