Italian design. To encounter it is to be instantly engaged. Visit Piranesi, Rome, and the Arts of Design and stand in awe of Piranesi’s prodigious output and attention to detail. To call this exhibition “expansive” is to greatly understate the scope of the show. The subject is Giovanni Battista Piranesi, a Venetian artist who was a printmaker, architect, designer, antiquarian, theorist, and art dealer — all of those and more. Though formed in the 18th century, Piranesi’s views of Rome continue, even now, to define that great city. In the exhibit, there are 300 original prints, a 3-D video projection of Piranesi’s Carceri d’Invenzione, and, in an interesting twist, seven original objects he designed but never executed.
The multi-faceted Piranesi continues to influence artists. The modernity of his work is particularly relevant to contemporary designers and architects. The collaboration of the Giorgio Cini Foundation of Venice, Factum Arte of Madrid, and architect Michele De Lucchi of Milan resulted in this cutting-edge exhibition, which will close July 7. (619.232.7931, www.sdmart.org) DARLENE G. DAVIES