Giovanni Battista Piranesi created an amazing series of prints called Le Carceri (the Prisons). I recently found out that the Saint Louis Public Library has an edition of the prints, so I’ll be over there to see them soon.
The Prisons, Plate VII: The Drawbridge.
In these works the master deftly shows the ability for etchings – and really all of printmaking – to transcend the sense of a single, locked image that is a stereotype of the discipline. Using an inventive, intuitive action, Piranesi works the various states of the prison plates in dramatic fashion, transforming their contents, scale, and mood. The Dover publication of the first and second states of the plates is well worth the price.
I picked that book up in 2004 and it has inspired a great deal of my perspective on line work and current interest in printmaking as a malleable medium – as seen in the image above, titled The Weight (etching and mezzotint, 2008). Click on the image for a larger view.