From its beginnings in the seventeenth century, the Baroque embraced the whole of Catholic Europe and infiltrated Protestant England, Orthodox Russia and even Muslim Turkey. Architecture, paintings, poetry, music, natural science and new forms of piety all have their places on the Baroque map. In this surprising reinterpretation of the Baroque, Robert Harbison offers new readings that stress its eccentric and tumultuous forms, in which a destablized sense of reality is often projected onto the viewer. This strange, subjectively inclined world is manifested in such bizarre phenomena as the small stuccoed universes of Giacomo Serpotta, the Sacred Mounts of Piedmont and the grimacing heads of F. X. Messerschmidt. Harbison explores the Baroque's metamorphoses into later styles, particularly the Rococo, and, in an unexpected twist, pursues the Baroque idea into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, proposing provocative analyses of pastiches or imitations (in Der Rosenkavalier and the work of Aubrey Beardsley) or resemblances (deliberate or not) in Czech Cubism and Frank Gehry's architecture. Reflections on Baroque demonstrates that the Baroque impulse lives on in the twenty-first century imagination.
Reflections on Baroque
Robert Harbison University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress NX451.5.B3H37 2000 | Dewey Decimal 700.9032
From its beginnings in the seventeenth century, the eccentric and tumultuous forms of the Baroque spread across not only Europe but colonial Latin America and Asia as well. With Reflections on Baroque, Robert Harbison brings together discussions of aesthetics, science, mysticism, politics, religion, and culture to offer a surprising reinterpretations of the baroque style and its influences and echoes into the twentieth century.
What is it about ruins that are so alluring, so puzzling, that they can hold some of us in endless wonder over the half-erased story they tell? In this elegant book, Robert Harbison explores the captivating hold these remains and broken pieces—from architecture, art, and literature—have on us. Why are we, he asks, so suspicious of things that are too smooth, too continuous? What makes us feel, when we look upon a fragment, that its very incompletion has a kind of meaning in itself? Is it that our experience on earth is inherently discontinuous, or that we are simply unable to believe in anything whole?
Harbison guides us through ruins and fragments, both ancient and modern, visual and textual, showing us how they are crucial to understanding our current mindset and how we arrived here. First looking at ancient fragments, he examines the ways we have recovered, restored, and exhibited them as artworks. Then he moves on to modernist architecture and the ways that it seeks a fragmentary form, examining modern projects that have been designed into existing ruins, such as the Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy and the reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin. From there he explores literature and the works of T. S. Eliot, Montaigne, Coleridge, Joyce, and Sterne, and how they have used fragments as the foundation for creating new work. Likewise he examines the visual arts, from Schwitters’ collages to Ruskin’s drawings, as well as cinematic works from Sergei Eisenstein to Julien Temple, never shying from more deliberate creators of ruin, from Gordon Matta-Clark to countless graffiti artists.
From ancient to modern times and across every imaginable form of art, Harbison takes a poetic look at how ruins have offered us a way of understanding history and how they have enabled us to create the new.
Mies van der Rohe, master of modern architecture, declared that “Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together.” In Travels in the History of Architecture, renowned architectural writer Robert Harbison takes a closer look at these bricks, providing an engaging and concise companion to the great themes and aesthetic movements in architecture from antiquity to the present day.
Travels in the History of Architecture beings its journey with the great temples of the Egyptians and the shrines of Classical Greece and Rome and then provides a complete survey of architecture through the present day. Each chapter of this dynamic and approachable volume focuses on a movement in architectural history, including Byzantine, Baroque, Mannerism, Historicism, Functionalism, and Deconstruction. Unique to this work is Harbison’s wide-ranging approach, which draws on references and examples outside of architecture—from literature, art, sculpture, and history—to further illustrate and contextualize the themes and ideas of each period. For example, the travel writing of Pausanias illustrates the monuments of ancient Greece, a poem in praise of marble decoration reveals how the builders of the cathedral of Hagia Sophia viewed their creation, and a French rococo painting speaks to the meaning behind the design of the English landscape garden.
Original, yet authoritative, Travels in the History of Architecture will be in an indispensable guide for everyone curious to know more about the world’s most famous structures, as well as for students of art and architectural history seeking a definitive introduction.