ROMAN SPACES:PUBLIC DESIGN AND PRIVATE DECORATION
In this weeks material, we study mostly the workscommissioned by powerful leaders to support theirpolitical agendas. But how do common peoplesupport the arts? Lets look at how non-imperialpeople live.
Roman Urban Design• Based on a grid for greater ease of traffic and greater efficiency of travel (we see this plan throughout the Roman Empire, from Syria to Northern Africa to England)• Speaks to a strong, central leadership who can dictate a unified vision that transcends regional customs and styles• Organization centered around a Temple and Forum (public gathering space and political center) and basilica (Courthouse)• Tells us that religious practice is obligatory, as opposed to the more private, intimate worship of the Greeks
Residential Spaces• Insula where businesses occupy the ground level and apartments filler the upper levels• Large courtyard in center of complex• Apartments lack private kitchens as most time is spent outside of the domestic space• Bathrooms are communal• Private Homes serve the purpose of entertaining and business (rather than solely for shelter). NOTE: Romans spend little time at home (unlike we do today).• Very small cubicula surround an atrium and a peristyle courtyard all decorated with frescos
Mosaics• Made up of small tesserae-- small stones or cut tiles arranged so as to create a legible iconography• Generally used to decorate floor space• Often revealed flat, black and white scenes of mythological narratives, but more wealthy patrons could commission great displays of realism
Murals• Painted with the buon fresco technique, in which pigment is applied to wet plaster and then allowed to dry• An appropriate technique for a hot, Mediterranean climate• Categorized by four styles
First Style• Academics may call this the incrustation, structural, or masonry style• Gives the illusion of more expensive materials• Preferred as it was less expensive and more easily installed than actual marble or stone
Second Style• Academics may call this the architectural style• Uses linear and atmospheric perspective to give the illusion of a three dimensional space• Dissolves the wall• Preferred as it brings the outside and inside together (you can still enjoy the outdoors during inclement weather)
Third Style• Academics may call this the ornate style• Reinforces the wall with floating images "framed" by fine, delicate architectural elements (stylobates, columns, pediments) on a monochromatic background
Fourth Style• Incorporates all three previous styles but adds portrait images, garish colors, irrational architectural elements (walls that do not meet up in the corners or spaces that do not match in dimensional illusion)
We are influenced by these styles today. Can you recognize which style of Roman painting is most influential in the contemporary decorations below?
ROMAN SPACESPublic Design and Private Decoration