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Rome and the Classical Legacy
September 10 - December 18, 2004

Piranesi's 18th century etchings, classical architectural studies from 1910 and contemporary watercolors of baroque and ancient Rome by Gilbert Gorski and Elizabeth Ockwell.


Architecture's classical vocabulary has persisted ever since it fueled the Italian Renaissance. The legacy of Rome is still very much on view in the ancient cities of the world, many of which began their long lives as Roman outposts.

A fusion of Greek, Macedonian, Etruscan and Egyptian influences, classical Roman architecture has left civilization the grandest blueprint for how the world should look. Railroad stations have been constructed to duplicate the great Baths of Caracalla, banks were built to resemble temples and in creating Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, architects emulated a Rome inflated to an even grander scale.

Giambattista Piranesi's 18th Century etchings of Rome popularized the classical look for the construction of hundreds of Europe's stately mansions. Paris was reconstructed in the 19th Century to become a modern Rome as gigantic triumphal arches were built for the glorification of Napolean.

ArchiTech Gallery has assembled original etchings by Piranesi and other 18th Century artists. Contemporary artist, Gilbert Gorski, perhaps the finest precisionist renderer for architectural firms today, presents his studies of the Eternal City today and recreations of ancient Rome. His watercolors counterpoint those by impressionist, Elizabeth Ockwell, whose modern interpretations of Baroque and Neo-classical structures join her own take on the work of Piranesi.

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Notes on the Exhibition:
Rome and the Classical Legacy
September 10 - November 20, 2004

I've been wanting to visit Rome for years and have often thought it slightly embarrassing that I'd never been there. I have a number of books on Greek and Roman architecture I'd barely cracked. But since I opened the gallery, there's never been a two week stretch for a trip to Europe.

So since I couldn't make it in the foreseeable future, it seemed that the next best thing would be to use it as the subject of a show. I owned a few great 18th century Piranesi etchings as well as Ecole-type renderings of Roman building details. And since nearly all my preparation time leading up to exhibitions is filled with homework, why not kill two birds?

Elizabeth Ockwell had brought me a couple of recent watercolors she'd done of Bernini sculptures and Borromini's most spectacular church, St. Ivo's. And Alex Fradkin had sent me large photographs he took of the dome of the Pantheon. Certainly, I've seen other galleries produce shows with a lot less. Rome it was.

I wanted to mix it with Burnham buildings whose plans I own, so the show became "Rome and the Classical Legacy."

I called Gil Gorski, one of architecture's best contemporary renderers. He'd sent me a postcard with a painting he'd done of the Forum as he imagined it existed after the empire but before it became a ruin. He brought in that watercolor along with dozens he'd done when he studied there in the late eighties.

When everything was installed, all the modern watercolors by Gorski and Ockwell, the Ecole studies of 1910 and the Piranesis became so compelling and looked so good that I forgot about the Burnham & Company plans. The only thing of Burnham's that I showed was his bronze head of Caesar. He had kept it on his desk until he died in 1912. I don't plan to sell it.

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Water Tower photograph,  Chicago
Alex Fradkin
Pantheon, Rome

Gelatin-silver print, 1999
20 x 24 inches

Wrigley Building, drawing, Chicago
Harry Viehman
Roman Doric order

India ink on paper, 1910
20 x 15 inches

Gorski Domes, drawing, Chicago
Gilbert Gorski
S. Maria di Loreto, Rome

Watercolor and pen and ink, 1988
11 x 14 inches

Elizabeth Ockwell, drawing, Chicago Artist
Elizabeth Ockwell
St. Ivo, Rome

Watercolor and pen and ink, 2000
18 x 24 inches

Gilbert Gorski, drawing, Chicago Artist
Gilbert Gorski
Forum Romanum
Watercolor, 1988
18 x 24 inche
s

Polanzani portrait drawing of Giambiattista Piranesi
F. Polanzani
Giambattista Piranesi Portrait for Antichitta Romane
Etching, 1750
18 x 13 inches
s

Harry Viehman drawing of Classical Column
Harry Viehman
Palazzo Farnese
India ink and Japanese wash on paper, 1910
25 x 13 inche
s

 

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654
312-475-1290
ArchiTechGallery@earthlink.net


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