NEW YORK.-Excavating Design: Eighteenth-century Drawings and Prints from the Permanent Collection, the inaugural exhibition in Cooper-Hewitts new 700-square-foot ground floor gallery, will be on view from Nov. 4 to Jan. 8, 2006. The exhibition will showcase a selection of works from the museums extensive collection of 18th-century European drawings, prints and sketches featuring fantastical, unrealized architectural designs and artifacts of ancient Rome.
Visitors will have the opportunity to view a select group of the museums holdings of works by French Academy artists, such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain (1715-1759) and Giovanni Panini (1691-1764), and trace the origins of the Western design vocabulary.
Inspired by reports of archaeological findings, 18th-century artists and writers traveled to Rome to see the excavated monuments, sculptures and relics of the past and capture their majesty on paper. In Cooper-Hewitts newly excavated space, drawings of the Roman monuments and ancient ruins by Panini and Le Lorrain will be presented alongside Piranesis extraordinary prints, featuring significant motifs used by artists and designers in all media, including architecture and the decorative arts. These prints and Giovanni Ottavianis (1735-1808) brightly colored etchings of the famous Loggia at the Vatican were purchased by tourists and inspired artists from all over Europe, cultivating a new fascination with images of antiquity.
A selection of objects from the museums product design and decorative arts department, such as a micro-mosaic suite of jewelry and commemorative tableware decorated with scenes of antique ruins, also will be included in the exhibition, offering a commercial perspective on the effects of tourism on design.
Excavating Design will provide visitors with the fundamentals of the Western design vocabulary to keep in mind as they tour the upper-level galleries of the museum, said Floramae McCarron-Cates, who co-organized the exhibition with Jordan Kim. The works on display will evoke 18th-century Europes obsession with the grandeur of Rome and create a visual resource that can be appreciated both for its beauty and its relevance for scholars and designers today.