Bernini and the Art of Architecture

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9780789201157: Bernini and the Art of Architecture

The work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) virtually defines the Baroque style in the visual arts. The best known example, his Cornaro Chapel of Saint Teresa, is famous for its masterly integration of painting, sculpture, and architecture. But previous discussions have tended to focus on Bernini's sculpture alone. This book is an extensive narrative considering all of his major architectural achievements and the complementary art at these sites. His colonnades at Piazza San Pietro, his huge Baldacchino within Saint Peter's basilica, and his provocative Scala Regia at the Vatican all pulse with visual energy, as does his Four Rivers Fountain in the heart of Rome. These works have become international symbols of the Eternal City and deserve serious attention as masterpieces on a par with Bernini's figural art.

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Review:

Nobody mixed sex and spirituality quite like the sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. The sensual young angel featured in what is arguably his most famous piece, the Coronaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria, leaves no doubt in the viewer's mind just what the source of St. Theresa's ecstasy was, while his rendering of Aeneas in the statue Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius would, in a later age, qualify as centerfold material in Playgirl. Bernini's over-the-top Baroque style earned him both accolades and catcalls during his own lifetime, and in the centuries after his death in 1680, his genius was downplayed and his works derided. With the approach of Bernini's 400th birthday, however, critics have started taking a second look at what the man accomplished.

Though mainly known for his sculpture, Bernini also enjoyed a career as an architect, and it is this aspect of his life that T.A. Marder explores in Bernini and the Art of Architecture. Unlike modern architects who concern themselves mainly with the technical aspects of planning and building, Bernini was an artist who believed the materials could and should be made to serve the concept. By organizing his book chronologically, Marder illuminates the artist's progress across decades, revealing his mind through sketches, plans, and documents from the period as well as photographs of Bernini's masterpieces. For anyone interested in architecture, the art of Bernini, or both, this book is scholarly, accessible, and insightful.

Review:

Bernini and the Art of Architecture is particularly welcome because it synthesizes a large body of scholarly material into an accessible format. -- The New York Times Book Review, Bruce Boucher

A coup for breathtaking scholarship and glorious photography. -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/20/98

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