From Signs to Design: Environmental Process and Reform in Early Renaissance Rome
Applying the latest practices from critical theory and discourse to the builtenvironment of early Renaissance Rome, Charles Burroughs sees the city as a field of visualcommunication and rhetoric. He explores the symbolic dimension of the cultural landscape and theoperation of architectural and other visual signs in the urban environment. The result is a profoundreconceiving of the implications for the study of Renaissance Rome of the notion of the city as"text." Central to Burrough's project is the articulation of a model of cultural mediation andproduction that is distinct from the standard notion of patronage as a unilateral transaction.On onelevel From Signs to Design focuses on the production of social meaning in and through environmentalprocess during the pontificate of Nicholas V, celebrated for his intimate links to the new cultureof humanism and as an archetypal patron of the arts and literature. On another, it is an elucidationof the origins and the ideological impact of architectural and urbanistic motifs and conceptions ofspatial order that were central to the Western tradition of monumental city planning.Burroughsbrings an especially wide range of explanatory models - from social history, cultural anthropology,iconology and semiotics - to bear in his analysis of urban reform and the shifts in architecturaldesign that emerged in early Renaissance Rome. He focuses in particular on the material basis andcontext of these shifts, which he studies through the examination of contrasting neighborhoods,social milieus, and institutions, as well as of individuals prominently involved with importantbuilding projects or with the general maintenance and improvement of urban facilities andinfrastructure. Burroughs provides a concrete and differentiated picture of the intersection ofpapal/ecclesiastical and local interest and initiatives, placing this within the context of markedpolitical changes. And he devotes extensive discussions to the artistic expression of papal agendasand concerns in Nicholas's private chapel and in Alberti's Tempio Malatestiano.Charles Burroughs isAssociate Professor of Art History at the State University of New York at Binghamton.Contents: UrbanPattern and Symbolic Landscapes. Interior Architectures: Discordance and Resolution in the Frescoesof Nicholas's Private Chapel. Far and Near Perspectives: Urban Ordering and Neighborhood Change inNicholan Rome. Middlemen: Lines of Contact, Mutual Advantage, and Command. The Other Rome: Sacralityand Ideology in the Holy Quarter. Mirror and Frame: The Surrounding Region and the Long Road.Epilogue: The River, the Book, and the Basilica.