Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Fasolo, Vincenzo


Fasolo, Vincenzo

Fasolo, Vincenzo; architectural historian; b. July 5, 1885; d. November 6, 1969.

At the Sapienza University of Rome, where Tafuri studied, Vincenzo Fasolo (1885-1969) was a prominent architectural historian. He was the director of the Istituto di Storia dell'architettura of the Sapienza University and instigated the so-called 'Roman School of Architectural History'. Fasolo was an advocate of the conservative academic circles in Rome which were marked by a proverbial aversion to modernity. For example, the first Italian translations of the historical surveys composed by Pevsner and Giedion were con- sidered inappropriate reading material by most professors of architecture in Rome. However, while his teaching methods were severely criticized by Bruno Zevi, for example, Fasolo paradoxically saw himself as an innovator and a prophet of the modern. He did not stand for the 'false' modernity advocated by Giedion, Pevsner and some of his students, but for the truly modern presented in the great buildings of antiquity. For Fasolo, these buildings set the standard for a meta-historical canon. Every now and then, architects recognized the value of this and designed their buildings in accordance with the meta-historical canon. Fasolo claimed that only these exceptional buildings deserved the label 'modern'.

"The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi" by Vincenzo Fasolo first appeared in Quaderni dell'Instituto di Storia dell'Architecttura, n.15 - 1956, published by the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Rome.

Fasolo's essay on Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio is relatively rare among Campo Marzio literature in that it presents a straightforward description and analysis of Piranesi's urban design, yet it nonetheless harbors factual errors and misinterpretations. This essay also formed the groundwork of Tafuri's later interpretation of Piranesi's large plan. This essay is here translated from Italian into English by Anthony D'Aulerio, and accompanied with corrections and critical annotations by Stephen Lauf. (1997.04.15)

The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi
Vincenzo Fasolo

The passage from the Baroque era to the Romantic era is, maybe, the most studied historical moment, in the literary, musical, philosophical, political, and economic fields. In the history of architecture there is no corresponding interest in this point in time, and the passage that occurs in the second half of the eighteenth century is indicated by conventional formulas ("neoclassicism", etc.) which cover up the real problem without at all resolving it. If on Goethe, on Mozart, on Kant, on Adam Smith have been written entire libraries, on the architects of this same period critical studies are lacking, and, in some cases, even philological base information.

We are then compelled to judge all the architectural experiences of the eighteenth century by examining their results in the nineteenth: the Napoleonic neoclassicism, and the stylistic "revivals." But this is a simplistic view, and in the eighteenth century (particularly from 1730 to 1760) other currents were operating which we would do well to study with devoted attention.

By publishing this study on the "Campomarzio" of Piranesi--which has never been considered under this light--our publication wants to also signal the necessity for a revision of current judgments on this period and intends to return as soon as possible to this argument.



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