Friday, 13 July 2012

In Search of Venetian Art

While the city of Venice has traditionally provided wonderful subject matter for artists throughout the centuries, it also shares the distinction (with Florence) as being a major centre for Italian renaissance. In those days, it’s buoyant trading economy provided much needed support for artists that enabled painters, sculptors, glassmakers, ceramicists, woodworkers and lace makers to make a comfortable living. Today there are several major galleries and museums, while there still remains hundreds of smaller studios/galleries to be viewed. To this end, Jules and I tended to spend most of the daylight hours wandering the canals and laneways searching them out.

If you are into renaissance art and architecture, there is plenty to see with the Academia Gallery (that includes Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous drawing of ‘Vitruvian Man‘), Scoula Grande di San Rocco, Doges Palace and more. However, our tastes tend to lean to the more modern so we begun our tour with Ca’ Pesaro - International gallery of Modern Art, which features many notable works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The birth of modernism is certainly not lost in this beautiful city and with the Museo Correr hosting a major touring exhibition of the works of Gustav Klimt, that just had to be viewed. The exhibition would also provide a nice introduction to Viennese Secessionist art that we were set to fully experience in a few weeks time.

However, the most impressive collection of modernist works to be found in Venice were certainly on display in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is situated in the former home of this art collector, bohemian and socialite. While I knew a little bit about Solomon Guggenheim (her uncle) and had visited the Guggenheim museum in New York, I did not know too much about this extraordinary lady and the amazing collection of modern art she amassed in Europe during her lifetime. While many private collections often include minor work by significant artists, we were amazed at the quality of her collection that included many major works from the who’s who of twentieth century art. Jules and I realty enjoyed wandering around the rooms in which she had lived, which was brought to life even more vividly by photos taken of her in these very spaces back in the day. As we sat on her patio facing the Grand Canal, we thought what a life she must have led in the company of some of the greatest artists of the time in one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

For the really contemporary stuff we just had to visit Palazzo Grassi and Punta Della Dogana. These galleries were situated in different parts of Venice, but they appeared intrinsically linked by their representation of the very latest in conceptual art. We viewed a very thought provoking show by Urs Fischer at the Palazzo Grazzi and a variety of other challenging pieces (although less to our taste) in the Punta Della Dogana (which has a Japanese connection with the building being recently redesigned by noted architect Tadeo Ando). With the Venice Biennale established in 1895, this city has built a strong reputation over the years as arguably the most significant forum for innovative art held in the world. Today, with representatives from over 30 countries establishing their own ‘art pavilions’, it continues to attract the worlds leading contemporary artists and of course, thousands of art lovers every second year in celebration of the visual arts. For your work to be represented here is to know that you have truly made it in the art world!

While the big galleries were outstanding, many of the smaller ones also impressed us and we could sense that a real art community existed here which would be the envy of most other cities. As we wandered around the picturesque laneways and canals, Jules and I could quite easily imagine ourselves eking out an existence in a tiny studio in Dorsoduro (the arty part of town); living on pasta and wine and being inspired daily by these wonderful surroundings, as artists have done here for centuries.

No comments:

Post a Comment