Thursday, May 18, 2017

Art World Jolts Venice - Viva Arte Viva! Biennale 2017

Korean Pavilion - Venice Biennale - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) When the World of Art arrives in Venice for Biennale's International Festival of Art every two years, it jolts the system with creative energy. During the opening press conference, President Paolo Baratta said that Biennale wanted the trust of the world "for the work that we do," and to induce the desire for art and architecture in the general public.

Baratta said that we are complex creatures, and that art can restore human beings. Through art we can find out about us. There is a silent battle the World of Art carries on with courage, not indulging in banalities or in ordinary life. It is an examination of the human condition.

If there is a crisis, it is in our minds. The drama is already here, and we should not fall into the trap of over-simplification. We ask artists to help us rejoin our selves with ourselves. Being human means accepting the complexity and dealing with it. We cannot be reduced to a single reality, and must reconcile ourselves to a complex reality. There is a tendency to over-simplify the world; the modern world is a complex thing we must understand.

Everything is being reduced to very few truths and very few words. We are being asked to reduce ourselves to symbols. If you deny complexity you will fall into frustration and inaction.

Baratta said that visiting the Biennale can change one's perspective on life, art, and what you think about human beings.

Ernesto Neto, Um Sagrado Lugar (A Sacred Place) Photo: Cat Bauer
Curator Christine Macel said that art has been her passion, if not obsession, forever. It is important to put the voice of the artist in the center. She embraces the artist's right to ozio, or free time -- the right to do nothing at all, the moment in which you are yourself, creating.

Much has been written about the 57th Venice Art Biennale; here's a review I like by Laura Cumming at The Guardian:

"The main international exhibition, curated by Christine Macel, director of the Pompidou Centre, steers clear of the political propaganda that dominated the last Biennale; indeed you could be forgiven for thinking it’s all rather comfortable and picturesque. Artists hang about, making music, chatting, sleeping (real and depicted beds predominate). There are tapestries, embroideries and quilted hangings everywhere; you can stitch mementoes into David Medalla’s sail or run your fingers through cascading gold mesh. So many threads can only lead straight to Ernesto Neto, another Biennale fixture, and sure enough here is another of his voluminous dangling nets. Inside sit actual members of the Brazilian rainforest tribe to which his installation is dedicated. This shocks somewhat – art as ethnographic zoo?"

Laboratory of Dilemmas - Photo: Neon
My favorite pavilion was the Greek Pavilion, and George Drivas' Laboratory of Dilemmas, a winding dark labyrinth with bits and pieces of sound installations and video clips along the way that eventually leads to the main show, a riveting video starring the fabulous Charlotte Rampling. Drivas was inspired by a piece of classical Greek theater, The Suppliants by Aeschylus (c. 470 BC), which posed the dilemma: Do we save the Foreigner or maintain the safety of the Native? And if you're thinking, Oh, not another refugee crisis installation, it is absolutely not that.

Freesa from the Tunisian Pavilion - Photo: Cat Bauer
I became surprisingly emotional after standing in line at the kiosk and applying to receive my Freesa during The Absence of Paths at the Tunisian Pavilion. A Freesa is a Universal Travel Document that allows me to go anywhere I want on the entire planet. It's Tunisia's first appearance at the Biennale since 1958; they are also issuing Freesas at Marco Polo Airport.

The document opens with a poem by Maulana Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, Muslim and Sufi mystic whose influence "transcended national borders and ethnic divisions," and whose wise words written 1000 years ago sums up the 57th Venice Biennale International Festival of Art:
Whoever Brought Me Here

All day I think about it, then
at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what
am I supposed to be doing?

My soul is from elsewhere,
I'm sure of that, and I intend to
end up there.
This drunkenness began in some
other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from anther
continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who
hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes?
What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an
answer, I could break out of this
prison for drunks.

I didn't come here of my own accord,
and I can't leve that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have
to take me home.

Maulana Rumi
Go to La Biennale for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fabulous! Philip Guston & the Poets at Accademia in Venice - To Ernest, with Love

The Line by Philip Guston (1977)
(Venice, Italy) I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Philip Guston and the Poets. When I lived in the hills of Los Feliz, a section of Los Angeles, one of my dearest friends and neighbors was Ernest Lieblich, a wealthy German Jew who was a great supporter of the arts. One day, Ernest insisted that we dash to the City of Hope hospital to see a mural he had discovered. He drove, speeding down the freeway at age 82, to a decrepit building. After we entered the doorway, Ernest demanded, "Now turn around!" On the wall surrounding the door was a dramatic mural in poor condition.

From Ernest's 2009 obituary in the Los Angeles Times (which I recommend reading so you can see the fabulous life Ernest led):

"Ernest Lieblich, a businessman and philanthropist with a passion for the arts who financed the painstaking restoration of a valuable 1930s-era mural and helped uncover the true identity of one of its creators, died April 4 at his Los Feliz home. He was 94.

One of his most notable efforts was the recovery of a faded floor-to-ceiling mural at the City of Hope medical center in Duarte. The experts he assembled to restore the mural by Reuben Kadish and Phillip Goldstein found that Goldstein was actually Philip Guston, a leading Abstract Expressionist painter who achieved prominence after leaving Los Angeles for New York in the late 1930s.
Philip Guston - Reuben Kadish mural City of Hope
The mural, painted in 1935-36, depicts 30 draped and nude figures representing vigorous youth to frail old age. Although cracked and grimy from decades of neglect, its beauty made Lieblich gasp when he saw it for the first time in 1996.

"He used his famous word, which was 'Fabulous!' " recalled Robert J. Reid, who was then City of Hope's vice president for donor relations. "He said, 'We must do something about this.'"
Lieblich was so buoyed by the discovery of a forgotten piece of local art history that he agreed to finance the renovation of the entire Spanish revival building that housed the mural and is now a visitors center."
Kosme de Baranano, Curator and Paola Marini, Director of Accademia - Photo Cat Bauer
Now, here in Venice, Philip Guston has a major exhibition at the renowned Galleria dell'Accademia, a city and museum which left a deep impression on the artist -- Guston loved the Italian Renaissance painters, but, with a few exceptions, didn't care much for the work of his contemporaries.

Philip Guston and the Poets was born in an unusual way. The curator, Professor Dr. Kosme de Baranano, is a Guston scholar who wrote a rich essay about the artist's work through the lens of five poets of the 20th century: D.H. Lawrence, William Butler Yeats, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot and Eugenio Montale. So, the essay is the inspiration for the exhibition, and the poets the foundation of the essay -- though the words of the poets were not always the inspiration for Philip Guston.

In the press notes, Dr. Baranano writes:

"...His images are carriers of desire and of memory, but they are also a treasury of previously unformulated ideas. Guston's pictorial work may be understood in relation to the poetic thought of five great literary figures of the twentieth century, poets who also sought to express ideas not previously formulated. Perhaps they may, like artificial light, precisely illuminate his paintings so as to draw us into them."

East Coker - T.S.E. by Philip Guston (1979)
In one particular case, however, there is a direct connection between the poet and the artist, and that is in the haunting painting East Coker - T.S.E., an homage to T.S. Elliot and a meditation on death. East Coker, a poem in Elliot's The Four Quartets, was written in 1943. Guston painted his East Coker in 1979 after suffering from a near-fatal heart attack. "I wanted to paint a man dying."

Now that's courage.

Philip Guston died the next year.

At the end of the exhibition is the Pantheon, and some thoughts from Guston's daughter, Musa, from her memoir, Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston:
"...In this painting, the names of five artists hover in the anxious air of the studio: Masaccio, Piero, Giotto, Tiepolo and de Chirico. My father would sometimes tell a story, his half-joking, half-serious fantasy of meeting the great masters in heaven, when he had gained acceptance into the confraternity, of one of them patting him on the back and saying, 'Not bad, sonny. Pas mal.'"
Pantheon by Philip Guston - Photo: Cat Bauer
I hope the whole group is up there together in heaven, including Ernest Lieblich, smiling down on Philip Guston and the Poets here on earth.

Philip Guston and the Poets at the Galleria dell'Accademia opens to the public on May 10 and runs through September 3, 2017. Go to the Accademia for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Whose Flag is it Anyway? Drama in Piazza San Marco on April 25 ends with Music

April 25 - Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
April 25 - Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) In Italy, April 25 is a national holiday, Liberation Day, commemorating the end of the Italian civil war, and honoring the Italian troops that fought against Mussolini and the Fascists (Italy) and the Nazis (Germany), during World War II, putting it very simply. In Venice, it is something more: it is also the Feast of Saint Mark, Venice's patron saint. It is a politically charged day in Venice because many people in the Veneto region wish to be autonomous, which has been labeled a "Venexit." Others are more moderate, and simply wish to preserve the Venetian culture and language. So all sorts of elements get tangled up together.

On Saint Mark's day, men give a single rose to women they love. This tradition, the Festa del Bocolo, originated in the eighth century -- long, long before Liberation Day -- when the daughter of the Doge fell in love with a troubadour. Seeking to overcome the class difference and prove his worth, the troubadour went off to war. He was mortally wounded, but plucked a rosebud before he died, entrusting it to his comrade to give to his beloved. I wrote a detailed post about it in 2014, when a thousand Venetian residents formed a human rose in Piazza San Marco, which you can read here:

More Venetians than Tourists in Piazza San Marco and Open Arsenale

The flag that you see fluttering from balconies all over Venice -- the flag that waves in Piazza San Marco itself -- is the red and gold flag with the winged lion of San Marco holding an open book. The words say: "Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus," or "Peace be with you Mark, my evangelist." The winged lion is a symbol of St. Mark, and the open book signifies that Venice is at peace. 

There is another red and gold flag, one with the winged lion holding a sword. This supposedly signifies that Venice is at war. (Or that it is angry:-)

Every year on April 25, Venetians, most from the Veneto, make the journey to Piazza San Marco to wave their flags. The local press labeled them the "nostalgic" group. This year when I arrived in Piazza San Marco, there was a new blue and gold flag on the scene with the winged lion holding an open book. I asked some Venetians what it signified. They said it was the flag of the land, whereas the red flag was the flag of the sea.

None of those interpretations are official. 

April 25 - Piazza San Marco2 - Photo: Cat Bauer
April 25 - Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
Everything was peaceful in the piazza, with people milling around as some musicians from La Fenice on stage cranked into Vivaldi. Then, from the distance, shouting was heard and a new group waving more portentous flags poured into Piazza San Marco from the XXII Marzo entrance. Their flags portrayed the winged lion wearing a black hood and holding a sword. They took over the center of the piazza, causing all sorts of commotion.

By this time, I was completely bewildered as to what was going on, and which flag signified what (I am on the Festa del Bocolo team:-). The blue and red flags seemed to get along, but this new hooded flag was greeted with shouts of "Fuori! Fuori!" "Out! Out!" I asked a man holding a red flag what the hooded flag meant, and he called them communists. Later, one local paper called them the "no-global" group; another paper described the lion as wearing a Zapatista, a symbol of resistance. Shouting ensued, but no one was violent. A handful of riot police arrived wearing blue helmets and jackets; they weren't those scary all-in-black police; they almost seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Police in Piazza San Marco - April 25 - Photo: Cat Bauer
Next, drums could be heard in the distance. This time, through the XXII Marzo entrance came soldiers wearing old-fashioned uniforms and carrying rifles with bayonets. Here comes the Cavalry! The soldiers marched around Piazza San Marco, then straight through the center of the hooded flags, who parted peacefully.

Here is a YouTube clip I made that captures a bit of the excitement:

Then the Consigliere alle Tradizioni Giusto, which translates to something like the "Advisor of Correct Traditions" and Luigi Brugnaro, the Mayor of Venice, came on the stage to address the crowd. The basic message was that classic music speaks the language of everyone. That Venice was a great city open to everyone, liberated for everyone. At that point, the crowd was no longer agitated, but enthusiastic. 

Then, the musicians from La Fenice kicked again into Vivaldi, and the band played on.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Did you know there are Royal Gardens in Venice? You will soon!

Cynthia Pre݁fointaine, Vista aerea dell'Area Marciana, Venezia, 2015
(Venice, Italy) The Royal Gardens of Venice are hidden in plain sight. If you start at Harry's Bar and walk along the water of the Bacino di San Marco to Piazza San Marco, the gardens are on the left. But many people pass them by because they are in such a state of disrepair -- there is not much greenery beckoning you to come inside and enjoy a bit of nature. All of that is about to change.

I was privileged to be invited to the press conference for the Restoration Project of the Giardini Reali on April 7, which was attended by many prominent local individuals, including the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, as well as the heads of various organizations. Thanks to a partnership between the Venice Gardens Foundation, a new non-profit organization headed by the dynamic art curator, Adele Re Rebaudengo, and Assicurazioni Generali, the venerable Italian insurance company whose symbol is the Lion of San Marco, the gardens will be brought back to life.

Anna Regge, acquerello 2017, Veduta dei Giardini Reali dalle finestre del Museo Correr
Adele Re Rebaudengo said:

"When restored, the Royal Gardens will be formal and precise, in keeping with its historic nineteenth-century design, but at the same time filled with the unexpected. It will be a garden where visitors will walk in the shade of its long, centuries-old wisteria covered pergola, and, hidden from view by dense screens of evergreens, will discover the vast, intimate, timeless path that crosses the rebuilt drawbridge and leads to the Correr Museum, in a renewed dialogue with Piazza San Marco and the Marciana area. It will be a meeting place open to the profound qualities of the arts, where nature and artistic languages unite to safeguard the garden and all its living elements. ...A place for thought; silent entry into a world in which there is space for harmony, contemplation and productivity."

Piazza San Marco (from the Campanile)
Let's get our bearings. That is Piazza San Marco. On the right side, the Caffè Quadri side, is the Procuratie Vecchie, or "Old Procurators,"originally built in 12th century, then rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire. On the left side, the Caffè Florian side, is the Procuratie Nuove, which means "New Procurators," which were completed in 1640. In the center wing there used to be a church, which Napoleon demolished in about 1810, and built the Napoleonic Wing of the Procuraties.

What is the office of the Procurator of San Marco? During the Venetian Republic, the procurators were nine powerful legal officers whose duties were so complex it would take a book, not a blog post, to examine. Their lifetime appointment was the most prestigious office after the Doge. A fascinating tidbit is that even after the fall of the Venetian Republic the office of the Procurator of San Marco was not abolished, and still exists today.

Royal Gardens seen through Empress Sissi's window in Museo Correr - Photo: Cat Bauer
After Napoleon invaded Venice, he decided that the Procuratie Nuove was going to be the site of the Royal Palace, and began construction in 1808. When Venice came under Austrian rule, that is where Empress Sissi stayed, a woman who has fascinated the world for centuries.

These days the Correr Museum inhabits the Procuratie Nuove, which is entered through the Napoleonic Wing. The Royal Gardens are overlooked by the Correr Museum, the imperial chambers of the Royal Palace, the Archaeological Museum and the Marciana Library

The Generali Group was founded in Trieste in 1832. The next year, they opened an office in Venice across the Piazza in the Procuratie Vecchie building, which is where they are still located today. Generali is a major player in the global insurance market. According to the press notes: "In 1848, leading individuals in the company embraced the cause of the Republic of Daniele Manin, a hero of Italian unification. In the midst of the struggle for unification, the company chose to use the lion of Saint Mark as its symbol, rather than the Hapsburg eagle." Generali has decided to rediscover their roots and revitalize their presence in Venice. By restoring the Royal Gardens, Generali is beginning a journey to honor the past of Piazza San Marco and safeguard its future.

Paolo Pejrone - Photo: Cat Bauer
The architect of the garden is the internationally renowned Paolo Pejrone. When I heard this, an idea popped into my mind.

I have recently become obsessed with Rosa Moceniga, an ancient rose that the writer, Andrea di Robilant, had discovered growing wild on his ancestor's property, Alvisopoli, a little town created during the Venetian Republic by his great-great-great-great grandfather, Alvise Mocenigo. Andrea had found a silvery pink rose with a strong, sweet fragrance growing in the wilderness while researching his book, Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon. He was determined to find out how the rose had gotten there, and traced it back to the time that his great-great-great-great grandmother, Lucia, had spent with Empress Josephine Bonaparte in France, which had inspired another book, Chasing the Rose, which I found to be surprisingly compelling.

I thought: The perfect circle for Rosa Moceniga would be for the rose to be part of the Royal Gardens. I sent Andrea a text message: "I am at a press conference. Generali is restoring Giardini Reali. Wouldn't it be PERFECT to include Rosa Moceniga?" Andrea responded: "Yes, it would! Ask them!"

During lunch, I found Paolo Pejrone sitting in the corner. I said, "Do you know Andrea di Robilant?" He smiled. "Yes." "Do you know Rosa Moceniga?" "Yes..." "Don't you think it would be PERFECT if Rosa Moceniga was in the Giardini Reali?" Pejrone burst out laughing. "Yes! Yes!"

Now, you are going to have to read Chasing the Rose to find out why it is so perfect, but once you do, I am sure that you will agree. Rosa Moceniga is such a strong and powerful rose that she has survived for centuries unattended, growing in the wilderness all on her own. But Rosa Moceniga's real home is in the Royal Gardens. In fact, I recommend reading the book to better appreciate how important the reawakening of the Royal Gardens in Venice is -- to have a magical, formal garden in the heart of Venice will bring nature, grace and elegance back to the soul of the city.

Francesco Neri, La Coffee House - Il Padiglione del Caffe݀ dei Giardini Reali, Venezia, 2016
The Coffee House of the Royal Gardens, where the press conference was held, and where we had lunch, will also be restored. What is astonishing is that after living here for all this time, I never knew it had ever been a coffee house!

I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Erla Zwingle, a writer and blogger who has lived in Venice even longer than I have, and whose clever blog, I am not making this up, I highly recommend. Read what she has to say about Regrowing a Garden.

The restored Royal Gardens are set to open towards the end of 2018.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fallen Angels Unite! Celeb Photographer David LaChapelle Comes out of the Forest - Lost+Found at Tre Oci in Venice

David LaChapelle and Pamela Anderson at Tre Oci - Photo: Cat Bauer
David LaChapelle & Pamela Anderson at Tre Oci - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) When David LaChapelle was a toddler, his glamorous, free-thinking mother dressed him up with paper angel wings. A Lithuanian immigrant, she worked as a waitress and factory employee, but had the soul of an artist, and saw God in Nature. His father was a man of the Church. Put those two together, and you get David LaChapelle, the brilliant photographer who has emerged from the forest in Maui to bring his New World to Venice.

News of Joy, 2017 ©David LaChapelle
Before the opening yesterday at Casa dei Tre Oci, LaChapelle spoke to a packed auditorium of enraptured art and photography students at Ca' Foscari University on Monday about the journey his life has taken. He started painting and drawing as a child. He dropped out of school at age 15 and moved to New York City, went to art school in North Carolina, became hooked on photography, and never went back to painting and drawing. He told the students that he had limited means in the beginning, and used what he could afford: a small camera and natural lighting, with friends who posed as subjects.

David LaChapelle at Ca' Foscari - Photo: Cat Bauer
David LaChapelle at Ca' Foscari - Photo: Cat Bauer
He moved back to New York City and lived in the East Village in the early 80s, which he said was Paradise. At that time, I lived in the West Village, and I can attest that it was Paradise, too. The Village was pulsing with exciting energy, crammed full of artists, actors, musicians, poets -- every color of sexuality and nationality -- everyone was there, and free to create. It was a magical time.

Then AIDS struck and Paradise became the Inferno. Many vibrant friends withered and died. LaChapelle's boyfriend died, and he thought he would die, too. So he turned toward metaphysics to make sense of it, and started creating images to share before he died -- not for money, but to leave something behind. Then Andy Warhol asked him to work for Interview, and flipped his life around. Since people weren't buying his photos, it allowed him to earn money doing something he loved. 

Archangel Michael: And No Message Could Have Been Clearer by David LaChapelle (2009) Photo: Cat Bauer
After working for 30 years with different magazines and photographing some of the most important celebrities on the planet, LaChapelle began to question consumerism and capitalism. He moved to a forest in Maui, and went back to doing analog photography and painting on negatives; he did not use a computer.

He told the students that he always followed his intuition, and that artists are unplanned, not like, say, lawyers, who go to school, get a degree, and practice law, with set rules. He said photography stops time. These days, the world feels faster with all our technical devices, and that it is important to make a place to find your own voice, and listen to your own heart and intuition away from the world that drowns it out.

He said, "To this day, if I do an ad, I use that money to fund myself. I am not a slave to the Art World, I am free. I am my own benefactor. I don't worry about getting hired. I want to say something that matters."

The First Supper, 2017 ©David LaChapelle
I was incredibly moved by the new photos. There is such a feeling of joy, hope, and spirituality mixed with humor, sexuality and love. LaChapelle came to Venice with his friend, Pamela Anderson, who has become more fascinating as she approaches her 50th birthday on July 1st, toning down her look, and cultivating a relationship with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

LaChapelle said he was trying to bring some real beauty to the world, and touch people much like music does. With Lost+Found at the Casa dei Tre Oci, David LaChapelle has achieved his goal.

Lost+Found is at the Casa dei Tre Oci from April 12 to September 10, 2017.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Jon Steinbacher, an angel that left this planet far too soon.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Unbelievable! Damien Hirst in Venice: Best Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) What is most interesting about Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is that Damien Hirst has hit upon on a creative principle innate to novelists: you can create a fictional story; you can create characters -- you can create an entire world -- and bring that world to life.

The wonderful thing about books is that each reader uses their own imagination to interpret the story and the characters with the words the author provides. There is a magical transformation that happens in the mind of a human being that can turn the novelist's words into vivid images, allowing us to enter into another world that sometimes feels as real as the one in which we actually live. Reading a book is different from watching a movie or a play. When we read, the story is not outside, but inside one's mind.

Will viewers step into a fictional world populated with physical objects that an artist has created?

Damien Hirst has invented a story that goes something like this: In 2008, a wreck was discovered off the coast of East Africa, full of precious works of art. It was the ancient ship called the Apistos, or the "Unbelievable," of the great collector, Amotan, who had once been a slave from Antioch, and lived around the year 200 AD. The Unbelievable was on its way to a temple built by Amotan, now a freed slave "bloated with excess wealth" to house his fabled treasures, when it sank. The immense wealth of the great collector was submerged in the Indian Ocean for about 2,000 years, heavily encrusted in corals and other marine life.

Proteus with Three Divers by Damien Hirst - Photo: Cat Bauer
The shows inside the Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi exhibit the sculptures and artifacts in three different stages: some in the condition in which they were found, some after restoration, and some contemporary museum copies which imagine the works in their original, undamaged forms. In addition, there are also underwater photos, which illustrate how the works looked when they were in the Indian Ocean. There is also a booklet that explains the myths and origins behind the works. The Shield of Achilles is there; the Severed Head of Medusa; the Skull of a Unicorn. There is also Mickey Mouse, and characters from The Jungle Book and Transformers.

Got that?

Proteus by Damien Hirst - Photo: Cat Bauer
That Damien Hirst believes the story he invented is without a doubt. As he told Will Gompert of the BBC: "For me, the show is totally about belief. You can believe whatever you want to believe. I believe the story of the collector from 2,000 years ago. I've spent so much time on it that it's not a lie. ... I just believe it. You have to believe it... If I close my eyes, I can see this guy. And you're going to tell me that's not real?"

As John Lennon famously said, "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together becomes reality."

The Collector with a Friend by Damien Hirst - Photo: Cat Bauer
Since the works were obviously done by a contemporary hand when seen through adult eyes, I imagined how the story would look through the eyes of a child, wandering through the cavernous halls of the Punta della Dogana and the immense Venetian palace, Palazzo Grassi. Luckily, I stumbled upon a couple of kids, and asked them their opinions. The girl, around six, with red hair and blue eyes was shy, and said that she liked it. However, her brother, about eight, was more enthusiastic; he thought it was great.

"Do you think that the objects are real, or do you think that the artist created them?" I asked.

He laughed. "I don't care!"

If you'd like to know more, Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark "a top art blog for artists and art lovers" has compiled an excellent round-up of the exhibition with links to reviews, including this one.

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. Damien Hirst, curated by Elena Geuna at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi runs from April 9 to December 3, 2017.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
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