Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection

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By Victoria C. Gardner Coates, Kenneth Lapatin, Jon L. Seydl with contributions by Mary Beard, Adrian Stähli, William St. Clair and Annika Bautz

Destroyed yet paradoxically preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Pompeii and other nearby sites are usually considered places where we can most directly experience the daily lives of ancient Romans. Rather than present these sites as windows to the past, however, the authors of The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection explore Pompeii as a modern obsession, in which the Vesuvian sites function as mirrors of the present. Through cultural appropriation and projection, outstanding visual and literary artists of the last three centuries have made the ancient catastrophe their own, expressing contemporary concerns in diverse media—from paintings, prints, and sculpture, to theatrical performances, photography, and film. This lavishly illustrated volume—featuring the works of artists such as Piranesi, Fragonard, Kaufmann, Ingres, Chassériau, and Alma-Tadema, as well as Duchamp, Dalí, Rothko, Rauschenberg, and Warhol—surveys the legacy of Pompeii in the modern imagination under the three overarching rubrics of decadence, apocalypse, and resurrection.

256 Pages

Published 2012