The catalog describes a delightful exhibition inspired by Antiquity, but which does not claim to be a simple presentation of landscapes with ruins, in a museum where modern works of art, many of which on public display for the first time, or little-known, have been casually placed next to the permanent collections of Classical sculpture.
In the elaborately decorated rooms of a Renaissance palazzo, the association between ruins and archaeology is achieved in a historical and cultural context where many different themes intertwine such as literature, philosophy, music, painting, the theory of restoration, architecture and town-planning, psychoanalysis, sociology and other subjects, which also reaches out towards other cultures and civilizations. And so, for example, around the mighty torso of a Cyclops, it builds up an argument about the birth of esthetics in a fragment, alive even in the fascinating and enigmatic experiments of contemporary art. Numerous articles tackle the subject of ancient ruins themselves and the rediscovery of modern painting with a focus on Piranesi and on the alienating contaminations of the 20th century. In contrast with the enchanting landscapes, the section focusing on the devastation of the landscape with photographs of unfinished works, industrial archaeology and an extraordinary repertoire of contemporary catastrophes (the earthquake in L’Aquila, the destruction in Beirut) emanate tragic narrative strength. Finally, the book reflects at length on the fate of actual archaeological excavations which create ruins that then need to be restored, conserved and explained to the public.