The Pantheon, Palladio, and Pittsburgh
Architecture / Behind the Scenes / Education /
A few weeks ago, my colleague Marilyn Russell, CMA’s curator of education, and I were in Rome to participate in a conference. Of course, like cultural tourists from the world over, we visited the Pantheon—the domed, porticoed monument built c. 118–128 CE that has inspired architects for literally centuries. Despite—or probably because of—its decrepitude, the Pantheon took our breath away. From my first glimpse of it from the Sanita dei Crescenzi (a street presumably named for the Crescenzi family of artists and patrons in Rome), I could almost visualize the swirl of events, the transformations, and, sometimes, the degradations the building has experienced in its nearly 2000 years of existence.
For Marilyn and me, the visit to the Pantheon was something of a pilgrimage: only three days before we left for Rome, the museum had opened the exhibition Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey. Andrea Palladio was a 16th-century Italian architect who went to Rome several times to study its antiquities. He was drawn to Rome for the same reason that Marilyn and I, and surely millions before us, have fallen under its spell: its remarkable collection of antiquities reminds us of the roots of Western culture and the standard of harmony and perfection to which the ancients aspired. Palladio turned his careful study of ancient Rome to good effect, creating an architectural language of clarity, simplicity, and proportion that made him a professional success in Italy and had a major impact on western architecture. His greatest influence was in America, and the “transatlantic journey” of Palladio’s architectural ideas is one of the big messages of Palladio and His Legacy. The exhibition features original drawings by Palladio that, to me, are almost as astonishing and inspiring as the Pantheon. Don’t miss this chance to see Palladio’s truly remarkable work.