The City Rehearsed offers an entirely new perspective on printed architecture in early modern Europe through the lens of Hans Vredeman de Vries. It probes the geographical encounters of dozens of engravings with contemporary texts on architecture, theatre, urbanism, art collecting, even ethnography.
The Netherlandish polymath Hans Vredeman de Vries (1526-1609) devoted his entire career to the production of imaginary architecture. Painter, architect, rhetorician, perspective theorist, festival designer, and draughtsman, Vredeman was active in Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Prague, where he designed a mysterious body of architectural prints, works which by the seventeenth century had influenced buildings from Tallinn to Peru. Including Scenographiae (1560), and Perspective (1604-5), Vredeman’s strange publications were among the most widely-distributed "Renaissance" books on building and vision, shipped to England, Spain and even Mexico by 1600.
This book, the first sustained study of Vredeman in English, shifts the focus of inquiry to look at the active role his prints played in the life of urban readers outside of a narrowly-defined "Flemish" architectural history. This is a study with clear interest for historians of art and the built environment, and one with broader contemporary resonances for changing definitions of "European" culture and identity in the present day.
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About the Author:
"Alongside a highly accomplished scholarly account of Vredeman de Vries's life and work, Heuer's book offers a fascinating probe of topics and themes that reshaped culture and technology, art and faith at the dawn of modernity. Like many at his time, Vredeman de Vries had to come to terms with the practice and theory of a new class of images that were being redefined by the power of identical copies (both as perspectival constructions and as mechanical prints), while at the same time some traditional forms of visual communication were mistrusted, and were being demoted by the tenets of the new faith. Heuer demonstrates brilliantly how Vredeman de Vries's patently dysfunctional visual "inventions" were often designed as functional tools: forms for making new forms, destined for replication in drawing, in print, and in building. Beneath and beyond Vredeman de Vries's "grotesque" excesses and distortions stood, as many knew at the time, a dual strategy of apparent dissolution, and of hidden, recombinant transmutation of what was understood as 'art.'"
Yale School of Architecture & Ecole d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette, Paris
Christopher P. Heuer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.
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