Rome after Rome

Sternfeld, Joel


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In his 1992 book Cam­pa­gna Roma­na. The Coun­try­si­de of Anci­ent Rome Joel Stern­feld focu­sed on the ruins of grand struc­tures with a clear warning: gre­at civi­liz­a­ti­ons fall, ours may too. Now in Rome after Rome, con­tai­ning images from the pre­vious book as well as nume­rous unpu­blis­hed pic­tures, Sternfeld’s ques­ti­ons mul­ti­ply: who are the­se modern Romans? What is their rela­ti­ons­hip to the sple­ndor that was? What is the natu­re of sul­lied moder­ni­ty in rela­ti­on to the Arca­di­an ide­al? Is the­re, at this late moment, any chan­ce for Utopia?The Cam­pa­gna, the coun­try­si­de south and east of Rome occu­p­ies a spe­cial place in Roman-and human histo­ry. With the rise of Anci­ent Rome, this once pol­lu­t­ed, mala­ri­al land­s­cape was res­to­red by emperors and thri­ved with some 20 towns and nume­rous wealt­hy vil­las on the rol­ling plains among the migh­ty aque­ducts that fed water to Rome. After the city fell, the Cam­pa­gna once again beca­me deso­la­te and dan­ge­rous. The gloo­my tombs, bro­ken homes and aque­ducts sat in a kind of no man’s land for over 1,000 years. To this land­s­cape came the pain­ters: Dürer, Lor­rain, Pous­sin, and later, Corot, Tur­ner, and Ame­ri­cans such as Tho­mas Cole. In the ruins they sought the ori­gins of Rome’s great­ness and the mea­ning of her fall. Later they depic­ted a place whe­re Roman gods cavor­ted and man­kind lived in a gol­den age, an Arca­dia. Cen­tral Rome was rebuilt with Baro­que apart­ments hiding the past: in the Cam­pa­gna the past was visi­ble and all ima­gi­nings possible.














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