As a writer I enjoy art that records inner emotion. Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s PRISONS from 1745 focused on a mental state of turmoil. The dungeon where there is no way in and no way out is a metaphor for the dark twisted side of a human mind. What could be more gloomy than a mind stuck? These are architectural fantasies, “capricious inventions” as they are described on the title page. Their monumental size, grand design and defiance of architectural realities are a far cry from the shabby dungeons that were the actual prisons of the day.
Loosely based on stage set designs, they show Piranesi indulging in his fascination with monumental Roman architecture; creating a fanciful series of structures and interiors in which he gets to play with perspective, geometry, scale, lighting and shadow effects.