The Architecture of Modern Italy: Volume 1, The Challenge of Tradition, 1750-1900 by Terry Kirk (Volume 2)
Princeton Architectural Press, 2005
Hardcover, 280 pages
The first volume of Terry Kirk's extensive, though not exhaustive, history on the architecture of modern Italy (not to be confused as a history of modern architecture in Italy) begins with the Enlightenment -- when architects eschewed the dominant style, Baroque, in favor of a rediscovered Classicism -- and ends at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries -- when architecture was called upon to create a visual identity for a unified Italy. In between, the author paints short but highly descriptive and informative vignettes of well- and lesser-known buildings, landscapes, and projects created or completed in the 150-year timeframe. The variety of works presented is one of the books best assets, from the theatrical spectacles of Giuseppe Jappelli to the late 19th-century design of Florence's cathedral. The well-known Giovanni Battista Piranesi is obviously present, his influence permeating the book, even though the architect/draftsman/engraver only created one building, Santa Maria del Priorato in Rome. Through Napoleon's brief reign, 19th-century Romanticism, and the aforementioned unification, we see reinterpretations of the historical elements and assemblages of architecture spurred by this unique personality's take on Italy's past and its potential future. What comes across is that in this period of Italy's history the physical expression of political power, via a fusing of the country's classical past with its new ideals, is of the utmost importance.