James S. Ackerman
Penguin Books, London, 1991; originally published 1966, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
ISBN: 9780140135008

From the Publisher. Palladio (1508-80) combined classical restraint with constant inventiveness to produce one of the most beautiful, and easily the most influential, series of buildings in the history of art. In this brilliantly incisive study, Professor Ackerman sets Palladio in the context of his age - the great Humanist era of Michelangelo and Raphael, Titian and Veronese - examines each of the wonderful villas, churches and palaces in turn, and tries to penetrate to the heart of the Palladian miracle. Palladio's theoretical writings are important and illuminating, he suggests, yet they can never do justice to the intense intuitive skills of “a magician of light and color.” Indeed, as the fine photographs in this book reveal, Palladio was “as sensual, as skilled in visual alchemy as any Venetian painter of his time,” and his countless imitators have usually captured the details, but not the essence, of his supreme style. There are buildings all the way from Philadelphia to St. Petersburg that bear witness to Palladio’s “permanent place in the making of architecture,” yet he richly deserves also to be seen on his own terms; this masterly introduction to a master architect does just that.

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Phyllis Lambert

James Ackerman’s Palladio, and Joseph Rykwert’s The Idea of a Town: the Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World, were revolutionary when written and exciting for me, in their consideration of the contexts of buildings and city. Ackerman looks beyond buildings to the larger environment of history, society, landscape, and the city; Rykwert looks beyond the instrumental to myth and ritual that shape and even create the man-made environment. When architectural history was mostly concerned, like art history, with connoisseurship, reading Ackerman’s Palladio was a huge relief to me in 1974 when it was first published, confirming my own interest on architecture in the city.

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