Michael J. Waters: Architectural Copying and the Rise of Printing

The advent of printing has long been derided as enabling individuals with little capacity for invention to design buildings by means of copying. For some theorists, this seemingly unimaginative replication of mechanically reproduced images heralded the rise of a banal formalism. While scholars have challenged this simplistic understanding of architecture in the age of printing, little attention has been paid to the practices of copying at the heart of this belief. Confronting this paradigm, this talk explores the complex ways in which the remediation of printed images shaped architectural practice already in the Renaissance. It argues that commonplace acts of copying, processes of direct translation, and even seemingly mundane, monotonous activities such as the manual replication of printed treatises constitute an overlooked cultural technique, one that became integral to the dynamic practices of architectural design that developed in the sixteenth century. Specifically, by probing the use of Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola's Regola delli cinque ordini d'architettura (first published in 1562) and the graphic and built work of Giovan Battista Aleotti, this talk seeks to highlight how different modes of copying mutually conditioned architecture and print.


Michael J. Waters is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and, currently, the Hanna Kiel Fellow at I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He earned his PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and was previously the Scott Opler Research Fellow at Worcester College, University of Oxford. His work focuses on issues of materiality and objects of architectural transmission, and he has published on range of subjects including spolia in Renaissance Rome, the graphic reconstruction of antiquity in the fifteenth century, and the creation, use, and dissemination of early modern architectural prints. In 2011, he co-curated the exhibit "Variety, Archeology, and Ornament: Renaissance Architectural Prints from Column to Cornice," at the University of Virginia Art Museum.

03. April 2019, 18:00 Uhr

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


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