cover image Baroque Age

Baroque Age

Rizzoli, Giulio Carlo Argan. Rizzoli International Publications, $25 (137pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1061-1

First published in Switzerland in 1964, this survey retains its freshness in expounding the thesis that the character of the Baroque culture in 17th-century Europe was ``consciously irrational, always controlled and deliberate.'' Further countering standard interpretations of Baroque excess and sensuality as either primitive or artificial, Argan, a professor of art history at the University of Rome, explains the overblown quality of the Baroque by relating it to philosophical shifts that placed a premium on the imagination, replacing the 16th century's emphasis on concrete reality. To document the relative freedom of Baroque rhetoric, which markedly departed from the Renaissance emphasis on geometry and perspective, Argan includes 96 color and black-and-white illustrations of art and architecture manifesting the Baroque spirit, from Guido Reni's exaggeratedly emotional painting, The Massacre of the Innocents , to Jose de Churriguera's intricately ornate High Altar of the church of San Esteban to the facade of the church in Apulia's Santa Croce. (Aug.)