Since last week was mainly orientation, this week was our first actual week of school here in Venice. Although there are five of us Carleton students here, three of us are in the ‘Art in Venice and Northern Italy 1100-1600’ class, while the other two are in the ‘Exhibiting the Contemporary’ class. Therefore, our weeks are a bit different, as our lectures and seminars (and occasional day trips) take place at different times and locations. For us ‘1100-1600’ students, our week consisted of two lectures at the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava (the Warwick University headquarters here in Venice) on Monday and Friday, as well as a seminar at Piazza San Marco on Wednesday. Our Italian course also began this week, with classes on Monday and Friday evenings. We are finding that we have quite a bit of free time, both on weekends and also during the week, but that will probably change soon. However, for the time being, there is not much to report on classes, so instead I will tell you about what I’ve been doing with my free time.
On the first Sunday of the month, a few of the galleries and museums in Venice are free. I decided to take advantage of this, and headed over to the Gallerie dell’ Accademia (http://www.gallerieaccademia.org), which is in my neighborhood, Dorsoduro. Here I saw some impressive works, such as The Tempest by Giorgione (c. 1508) and The Feast in the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese (1573) (which was massive, see photo). The Accademia also features many beautiful Byzantine works, as well as works by Venetian Renaissance artists such as Bellini, Carpaccio, and Tintoretto, among others.
Across the Accademia bridge over the Grand Canal is the Lisson Gallery (http://www.lissongallery.com), which I also checked out on Sunday. In front of the Lisson Gallery is Forever by Ai Weiwei, a huge sculpture made of intertwined stainless steel bicycles.
I really enjoyed the Lisson Gallery, which I had never heard of and really just stumbled upon. The current exhibition is entitled Genius Loci – Spirit of the Place. This excerpt is taken from their website:
“On the occasion of the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, curated this year by Rem Koolhaas, the Lisson Gallery and Berengo Studio present an exhibition of sculpture and installation that goes beyond the museum or gallery space, addressing instead the complex spheres of the public realm and the built environment.”
The exhibition not only features an array of interesting works by Ai Weiwei, Julian Opie, Anish Kapoor, and others, but it takes place in the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, which has some of the most beautiful Murano glass chandeliers I’ve ever seen.
Afterwards, I took the vaporetto (boat bus) to the Biennale Architettura 2014 (http://www.labiennale.org), where I walked around the Giardini location, where the Central Pavilion and a few National Pavilions are located (including Canada’s). It turned out to be a very art-filled day, with destinations that I would highly recommend.
On Monday night, it was my birthday and we took the courtesy boat from San Marco to Hotel Cipriani (http://www.belmond.com/hotel-cipriani-venice/), which is on the island of Giudecca. There we had dinner at Cip’s Club, which overlooks San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. Anyone is free to catch the boat and look around the historic hotel and its gardens, and have a Bellini cocktail while you’re at it (the inventor of the drink opened the hotel).
On Tuesday, a few of us went to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by Andrea Palladio in the sixteenth century. Afterwards, I used my Biennale Architettura 2014 ticket from Sunday to go to the accompanying exhibition at the Arsenale building. The exhibition in the Arsenale building is entitled Monditalia, and features film, dance, theatre, and music from the Venice biennales as a way of “participat[ing] in a scan of Italy, using the Arsenale as a stage dedicated to a single theme: the current state of Italy as an emblematic condition for a global situation where many countries are balancing between chaos and a realization of their full potential.” (excerpt from the Biennale Architettura 2014 ‘Fundamentals’ catalogue)
On Thursday, I spent the day at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (http://www.guggenheim-venice.it), which houses a very impressive selection of modern art by artists such as Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Mondrian, Chagall, Miró, Klee, Kandinsky, Magritte, Dalí, Pollock, and more. It also has a beautiful sculpture garden with works by Sol LeWitt, Marino Marini, Henry Moore, Yoko Ono, Ellsworth Kelly, and my personal favourite, Fritz Koenig’s Chariot (1957). Visiting the museums and galleries in Venice is often accompanied by a meal at their cute cafés, a visit to their gift shops, and/or amazing views of the Grand Canal, making for some very memorable outings.
Finally, on Saturday I made my way to Ca’ Rezzonico (http://carezzonico.visitmuve.it), a museum of eighteenth century Venice which is filled to the brim with paintings, ceiling frescoes, furniture, porcelain figures, and more, placed to give a sense of what the palace may have looked like when it was lived in by its inhabitants.
Afterwards, I visited the Punta della Dogana (http://www.palazzograssi.it/en/museum/punta-della-dogana), a contemporary art museum housed in an impressive building at the tip of the island of Dorsoduro (the bottom half of Venice) that used to be a salt warehouse and then a customs house for incoming passengers from the sea. The current exhibition is entitled Prima Materia:
“If the goal of most of nineteenth century art was truth through beauty and balance, the art of the late twentieth and our own century tends toward a coexistence of extremes—of abstraction and surrealism, emptiness and chaos, negation and spectacle, high and low. Artistically, we live in an age of global pluralism. Four basic elements of painting, sculpture, installation, and performance are all alchemized by the prima materia of media, not only the substance of film or video or the Internet, but the means by which it is disseminated and discussed globally.” (excerpt from website)
All of this was done in just one week, in between lectures and seminars! There really is so much to see and do in Venice, and I have found getting around so easy, either on foot or hopping on the vaporetto boat. If you’re interested, you can see more of my pictures on my instagram feed: www.instagram.com/ktkndl.