Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RENAISSANCE - Bill Viola Confronts Carpaccio at Espace Louis Vuitton, Venice

Emergence by Bill Viola (2002)
(Venice, Italy) A quiet Renaissance is taking place between two artists who were born almost five hundred years apart. The pioneer video artist, Bill Viola (1951-), shares the same space with Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1465/70-1525/26) in the second exhibition presented at Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia. Designed by the art historian Adrien Goetz and the exhibition curator Hervé Mikaeloff, Renaissance is an inspirational gem tucked away on the top floor of the new Maison Louis Vuitton just off Piazza San Marco.

Two "little masterpieces" by a young Carpaccio were recently attributed after sitting for nearly two centuries in storage.

Madonna and Child by Vittore Carpaccio (1487 ca.)
The Madonna and Child had been part of the original Teodoro Correr collection bequeathed to the city upon his death in 1830, but no one knew it was by Carpaccio. A couple of years ago, in 2012, Andrea Bellieni, the Scientific Director of the Museo Correr pondered the painting as it hung in storage. It was cataloged as a work by a 16th century Venetian painter, but something about it stood out. On a hunch, Bellieni gave the painting to the restorer, Antonio Bigolin. After removing a recent over-painting, the inscription VETOR(E) SCHARPAÇO OPV[S] appeared on the short bottom ledge. There was no doubt it was the work of a young Carpaccio before he had Latinised his name to "Carpathio," and whom we know today as the great master Carpaccio.

Pietà by Vittore Carpaccio (1488-90 ca.)
Incredibly, the same thing happened again when Professor Giorgio Fossaluzza was in the storerooms of the Correr to conduct a comparative analysis between a small panel recently acquired from an American collection with a old picture from Federico Zeriì's photo archive. He came face to face with the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ on her lap (Pieta) in a very poor state of preservation, and proposed that it might be another Carpaccio. Again the restorer, Antonio Bigolin, performed his magic, and again another work by a twenty-year-old Carpaccio was uncovered.

Eternal Return by Bill Viola (2000)
Louis Vuitton has partnered with the Fondazione Musei Civici a Venezia, Venice's Civic Museums, to sponsor the restoration of classic artworks, which are then loaned to the new space on the top floor -- the funding for Madonna and Child came from the Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia and the Regione del Veneto; the funding to restore the Pietà came from Louis Vuitton.

Then, a contemporary artist is invited to exhibit, inspired by the classic work. To complement Carpaccio, the invited artist was the American contemporary video artist, Bill Viola.

Bill Viola happens to be my absolute-most-favorite-male-contemporary-artist-ever -- I think he is a genius -- and Carpaccio is, well, Carpaccio, so it was an enormous thrill to sit and enjoy these two artists who are separated by the centuries in the here and now... in the same space and time...

Hervé Mikaeloff: You refer to the theme of the Pietà in your video called Emergence. What are your sources of inspiration? Can we see it as a reminiscence of the Pietà by Carpaccio?

Bill Viola: Emergence came from my fascination with the early Renaissance, and artists like Paolo Uccello, Luca Signorelli, Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale. At that time, I was especially taken by Masolin's Pieta in Empoli. Christ's figure is half risen out of his tomb, supported by his mother Mary and John the Evangelist.

My idea for Emergence was to create an extended vigil for the two women waiting by the tomb. I wanted the scene to transform from their vigil, to a Resurrection, then to an Ascension, which soon becomes a Birth as water flows out onto the ground, and finally takes the form of a Pietà and Lamentation as the two Marys grieve their loss. But I feel that this is not the end of the story.

In Emergence, I tried to express that when we think all is lost and empty, the Christ figure, or someone like him, rises up seeming to ascend to Heaven, but, in fact, he deliberately falls back to earth in order to help relieve the suffering of all human beings and creatures. This is the time for us to re-connect with the earth, with nature, and the people who we care about most. I think Emergence relates very well to Carpaccio's Pietà.

Hervé Mikaeloff: Why did you use slow motion in your works?

Bill Viola: I use slow motion so that I can see more deeply into the fabric of space and time, and especially our Souls.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Bill Viola

January 24 to May 25, 2014
Mon to Sat 10-7:30
Sunday 10:30-7:30
Free entrance

Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia
Calle del Ridotto 1353
30124 Venezia
+39 041 88 44 318

All photos of the work of Bill Viola: 2014©Bill Viola and Kira Pervo
All photos of the paintings of Carpaccio © Fondazione Mu.Ve.-Venezia/Antonio Bigolin restauratore-Quinto di Treviso


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Civic Museums of Venice Announce Dynamic Program for 2014

Fernand Léger, La Ville, 1919 - olio su tela / A.E. Gallatin Collection, 1952/ © Ferna
(Venice, Italy) MANET. RETURN TO VENICE was the Really Big Show last year, 2013, for the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Venice's Civic Museums. Educated travelers from all over the globe came to Venice specifically to see the Manet exhibition, resulting, of course, in fine dining reservations and hotel bookings, which always makes the City Fathers happy.

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo
Ca' Venier dei Leoni. Festa in costume. La marchesa Casati con Giovanni Boldini e un altro ospite, 1913
Yesterday, Venice's Civic Museums presented its jam-packed program for 2014. Right now I am only going to touch upon January and February (though I will squeal that I am really looking forward to Fortuny's Autumn at the Fortuny exhibit in October, which will star the Diva of all Divas, La Marchesa Luisa Casati Stampa, who was obsessed with being a "living work of art," and who lived in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni before the next diva, Peggy Guggenheim, arrived on the scene).

Fernand Léger, Trois Femmes à la Table Rouge 1921
In collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this year, the Museo Civici crew is hoping to have another success with LEGER. VISION OF THE CONTEMPORARY CITY, which will center around Fernand Léger's extraordinary work, La Ville. Painted in 1919 after Léger served at the Front during the First World War and returned to Paris with a head injury, La Ville, or The City would go on to influence an entire generation of artists, "becoming the manifesto of painting dedicated to the subject of the contemporary city."

Léger is all the fashion these days -- in 2008, Study for the Woman in Blue, a four feet tall Cubist canvas was sold by Sotheby's for $39.2 million, beating the French painter's previous record of $22.4 million set five years before. Last year, pop star Madonna sold her Léger, Trois Femmes à la Table Rouge, for $7.2 million to benefit her charity, the Ray of Light Foundation.

Piet Mondrian, No. VI / Composition No. II, 1920

Tate, Liverpool © Tate, London 2013
© 2013 o 2014 Mondrian / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Washington, D.C.
Over 100 works, more than 60 by Léger himself, will spotlight Paris during the decades between 1910 and 1930 when it was the world's capital for art, culture, trade and society.

LEGER. 1910-1930 La visione della città contemporanea
Museo Correr
February 8 to June 2, 2014

Peter Tillemans
London from Greenwich Park, 1718
It's always fun to look at a city the way it was centuries ago before transforming into a "contemporary city" -- here in Venice, we do our best to resist every attempt to impose the modern upon the ancient, but contemporary life does occasionally slip through. Taking place at the same time as the Fernand Léger exhibition, THE IMAGE OF THE EUROPEAN CITY from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, offers visitors the opportunity to contemplate how towns change over the centuries, from the Renaissance vision to the dynamic concepts of the early 20th century avant-garde movements -- all under the same roof, at the Correr.

L'immagine della città europea dal Rinascimento al Secolo dei Lumi
Museo Correr
February 8 to May 18, 2014 

Roy Lichtenstein - Man with Folded Arms, 1962
Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Panza Collection inv. 84.4
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein, photo credit Brian Forrest
Giuseppe Pana di Biumo was one of the greatest collectors of American post-war art whose treasures included major examples of abstract expressionism, pop art, minimal and conceptual art, as well as pieces from the "third collection," built up since the 1980s. For the Giuseppe Panza di Biumo. American Dialogues exhibition, approximately 40 works by 27 artists will be loaned to Venice's modern art museum, Ca' Pesaro, from the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the MOCA in Los Angeles, two powerhouse American art institutions that hold the most important parts of the Panza di Biumo collection.

On display in Italy for the first time, the collection includes some of the finest works by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Franz Kline, Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, Dan Flavin, Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Joseph Kosuth, Richard Serra and many more. There will also be a group of significant works from the family's private collection.

Giuseppe Panza di Biumo
Dialoghi americani
Ca' Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna Venezia
February 2 to May 4, 2014

Leone marciano andante by Vittore Carpaccio (1516)
During the Republic, Venice was ruled by a Doge, an official elected by the aristocracy -- not an inherited position like most other rulers of Europe. Nor was Venice ruled by the clergy. The Venetian aristocrats were merchants, and tried to create -- and maintain -- a truly enlightened Republic. One hundred and twenty doges -- warriors, politicians, scholars and even a saint -- succeeded each other, transforming themselves into the Republic's "emblem." Il Serenissimo Principe - Storia e storie di dogi e dogaresse or The Most Serene Prince - History and Stories of the Doges and Dogaressas takes us on a trip through the Doge's Apartment inside the Doge's Palace, delving into the lives of the men -- and their wives -- who ruled over one of the most unique civilizations the world has ever known.

The Most Serene Prince 
History and Stories of the Doges and Dogaressas
Palazzo Ducale - Apartment of the Doge
January 26 to June 30, 2014

Keiichi Nagasawa
The best EROS creations from the international Miniartextil exhibition are on display at the lushly restored and exotically scented Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice's museum of fashion and fabrics -- and now, perfume.Thanks to the collaboration with the Associazione Arte&Arte di Como, little evocative works of EROS, this year's theme, are over at San Stae, dangling from the ceiling. 'Miniartextil' is an annual international exhibition of contemporary art showing the best in Textile Art, an art sector with a revolutionary approach to the textile heritage and its materials.

EROS at Palazzo Mocenigo
Miniartextil EROS
Palazzo Mocenigo
January 11 to February 14, 2014

There are eleven civic museums in Venice -- the Palazzo Ducale, the Correr, the Fortuny, Carlo Goldoni's House, Palazzo Mocenigo, Ca' Rezzonico, the Glass Museum of Murano, the Lace Museum of Burano, the Museum of Natural History, Ca' Pesaro and the Clock Tower. It was refreshing to see a panel of mostly female faces at the press conference instead of the usual line-up of grey-haired men. It's a passionate team, full of enthusiasm, manifested in the high quality of the exhibitions.

Press conference panel under the protective power of the Madonna, from left to right: Daniela Ferretti, Director of the Fortuny Museum; Walter Hartsarich, President of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Angela Vettese, President della Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa di Venezia and collaborator with the Villa Panza di Biumo; Gabriella Belli, Director of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia; Chiara Squarcina, Director of Palazzo Mocenigo and Carlo Goldoni's House.

After the conference I wandered around the Correr, which, too, has been all spruced up, including a new cafe where you can lunch reasonably with a view overlooking Piazza San Marco. And I always love to walk through the newly-restored rooms of my favorite empress, the rebellious Sissi, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, in the Palazzo Reale, and imagine the times when she woke up and looked out upon the gardens here in Venice.

Sissy's bedchamber - Photo: Contessanally
For more information, please visit the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia website.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog