Meet the Professor – Prof. Paolo Alei
Roman Baroque architecture can be synthesized in the rivalry between Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and Francesco Borromini (1599-1667). Initially they worked together at Saint Peter’s and Palazzo Barberini. Then professional competitions and divergent approaches led to a certain rivalry, but above all to the creation of different, astonishing achievements. While Bernini elaborated his emotional theatrum sacrum in the Cornaro Chapel and Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Borromini manifested his neoplatonic thought in the complex designs of San Carlino and Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. Although the course focuses mainly on these two architects-artists, attention will be also given to other protagonists of the Baroque such as Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Domenichino, Cortona, etc. In the seventeenth century, Rome was a leading center of the arts in Europe. Popes, cardinals, nobles, intellectuals and Church officials continued to sponsor the Renaissance project of Renovatio Urbis, the restoration and embellishment of the city. While analyzing urbanism, architecture, sculpture, and painting by some of the major artists of the period, we will consider the artistic trends that characterize the patterns of patronage in Counter-Reformation and Baroque Rome.
Special attention will be given not only to the literary sources that shaped art theory, practice and criticism, but also to important issues such as propaganda, the viewer’s emotional engagement, and the artist’s social status. The unity of the visual arts, rhetorical effects, artistic rivalry, scenic urbanism, the relation between art and poetry, the use of classical and “bizarre” vocabulary, the concept of the pastoral, the representation of ecstasy, and the idealization of death will be some of the themes explored in this course. Each art work, building, or urban plan will be studied as a document to understand broader concepts related to politics, religion, music, science, theater, and philosophy.