Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas in Venice 2015 - Cat Bauer's Favorite Jesus Christ Quotes

Basilica of San Marco
Basilica of San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Year after year, Christmas in Venice continues to be magical. The few weeks leading up to the holiday are void of tourists, and residents can actually see each other on the street, like a cozy village. In Venice, Christmas feels simple and pure, a holiday celebrated with friends and family. It is a time to remember what life was like before the tidal wave of commercial tourism hit the town.

While much of the planet is experiencing extreme weather for the holidays, Venice has been cloaked in a mystical mist, setting the scene for enchantment.

Venice Mist

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was flogged and crucified for his dangerous message -- for preaching that the old ""eye for an eye" was out, and the new "love thy neighbor as thyself" was in. Since the point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of this radical Jew who founded Christianity, here are some of my Jesus Christ favorite quotes:

Midnight Mass in Venice
Midnight Mass Basilica of San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

"All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbor as yourself."

Basilica of San Marco
Basilica of San Marco Dome - Photo: Cat Bauer
"I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

"So when you give to someone in need, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others."

"Don't be afraid; just believe."

"A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family."

Madonna Nicopeia Venice Italy
Madonna Nicopeia - Photo: Cat Bauer
"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today has enough trouble of its own."

"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"

Happy Holidays from Venice

Happy Holidays from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Four Women Who Dared to Be Different - Winter 2015 at Palazzo Fortuny in Venice

Henriette and the Delphos gown - Photo: Elisa Gagliardi Mangilli
(Venice, Italy) The 13th century Gothic palace, Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, which Mariano and Henriette Fortuny transformed into their own fantastic stage set, is the perfect backdrop for the stories of four women who dared to be different:

Henriette Fortuny, the inspirational wife of Mariano Fortuny;  

Romaine Brooks, the bold American artist;  

Sarah Moon, the groundbreaking French photographer;

Ida Barbarigo, the compelling Venetian artist.
Portrait of Henriette by Mariano Fortuny (1915)

HENRIETTE FORTUNY - Portrait of a Muse

Adèle Henriette Nigrin, born in Fontainebleau in 1877, was Mariano Fortuny's wife, lover, muse, partner and co-creator. Fortuny was already a well-known artist when they met in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. Mariano and Henriette spent 47 years together, living and working inside Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, their home and atelier, filled with those fabulous Fortuny lamps and chandeliers, fabrics, photography and paintings. Today, Palazzo Fortuny is one of the most intriguing palaces in Venice.

Henriette thought up the idea for the iconic Delphos silk gown, a must-have for fashionable women at the turn of the last century. In 1896, the 478 BC statue of a chariot driver was found at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi, clad in a pleated robe. About 10 years later, that statue inspired the Fortunys to create the Delphos gown, which has become a work of art in its own right.

After the death of Mariano in 1949, Henriette dedicated her life to keeping the memory of the great artist alive. She donated Palazzo Fortuny to the city of Venice in 1956.

The Weeping Venus by Romain Brooks (1916-17) - Courtesy Museo Fortuny

ROMAINE BROOKS - Paintings, drawing, photographs

Romaine Brooks was born Beatrice Romaine Goddard in Rome in 1874 to wealthy American parents, whose father deserted the family. After an early life in a foster home in New York City as a "child martyr," and near-starvation as a struggling artist in Paris, Rome and Capri, Romaine inherited a fortune in 1902 after her emotionally abusive mother and mentally ill brother died.

Romaine married the pianist John Ellington Brooks, a gay man who had fled England after the trial of Oscar Wilde. She became part of the non-conformist, cosmopolitan community that jumped from the Belle Epoque in Paris, to the island of Capri, and to Venice, challenging the established order.

Romaine had a simultaneous love affair with two heavy-duty women -- the dancer, Ida Rubinstein and the writer, Natalie Clifford Barney -- as well as a romantic affair with Gabriele D'Annunzio that evolved into a strong friendship.

Influenced by Whistler, Romaine was drawn to the color gray, and was the go-to portrait painter for celebrities and aristocrats.

A Tribute to Mariano Fortuny by Sara Moon - Courtesy Museo Fortuny

SARAH MOON - A Tribute to Mariano Fortuny

Sarah Moon started life as Marielle Warin, born into to a Jewish family in occupied France in 1941. Initially a model in the swinging sixties under the name "Marielle Hadengue," Marielle Warin next changed her name to Sarah Moon and transformed into one of the major fashion photographers of all time -- in 1972 she was the first female photographer for the legendary Pirelli calendar.

In 1985, she morphed into a fine art photographer, concentrating on gallery and film work, winning awards like the Grand Prix National del Photographie in 1995, and the Prix Nadar in 2008.

Inspired by the soft light of the Venetian lagoon in the winter, and the swirls and patterns of Fortuny fabrics, Sara Moon's photos capture the mystical grandeur that permeates Palazzo Fortuny.

Erme e Saturni - Ida Barbarigo - Courtesy Museo Fortuny

 IDA BARBARIGO - Herms and Saturns

The Venetian artist, Ida Barbarigo, was born in Venice in 1920. Her husband was the artist, Zoran Music; her mother was the painter and poet, Livia Tivoli; her father was the painter, Guido Cadorin. Erme e Saturni is the result of the last two decades of a lifetime of labor and love. 

An herm is an ancient Greek sculpture for warding off evil, composed of a head, some kind of torso, and strategically-placed male genitals. Herms were often found at crossroads, inscribed with distances-- sort of like well-endowed signposts with magical powers that protected merchants and travelers.

Hermes was an Olympian god in Greek mythology, who morphed into the Roman god Mercury. Hermes was a phallic god who could move freely between the worlds of the mortals and the divine. The impish Hermes was the messenger of the gods, who liked to play practical jokes on god and man alike.

Saturn was an ancient Roman god, supposedly morphed from the Greek god, Cronus. Saturn and Cronus are both associated with time and the harvest, along with other more gruesome things, but one thing they both had in common is that during their "Golden Age" rule, humans enjoyed the beauty of the earth without labor. Imagine!

Saturnalia, the festival in honor of Saturn, was held from December 17 of the Julian calendar until December 23, which is about the end of December, beginning of January these days -- in other words, just about now. Saturnalia was a time to celebrate free speech, role reversals, gift-giving and lots of partying.

It was also the time of the Winter Solstice, which is on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5:49 Rome time this year. Get your candles ready!

December 19. 2015 to March 13, 2016

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Happy holidays from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

SPLENDORS OF THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE - Andrea Schiavone between Parmigianino, Tintoretto and Titian

Schiavone - Holy Family with St. Catherine
Andrea Schiavone Holy Family with St. Catherine & St. John (1552 c.)
(Venice, Italy) There has never been an exhibition dedicated to Andrea Schiavone before, and after 500 years, the artist is finally getting his due here in Venice at the Museo Correr. In addition to 80 works by the Dalmatian artist, some of his more famous contemporaries -- like Titian and Tintoretto -- are also on loan from museums worldwide, including the Louvre, Queen Elizabeth's Royal Collection, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Born in Zara about 1510, Andrea Meldolla was called "Schiavone," which means "Slav," a term the Venetian Republic used to call their Dalmatian subjects. One of the four historical regions of Croatia, Dalmatia is a narrow coastline region which was under Venetian control for centuries. Dalmatia's strategic location was important to the Queen of the Adriatic.

Not many ordinary people know who Andrea Schiovane was, but he is a big deal in the world of art history. Inspired by the alchemist artist, Parmigianino, and criticized by the father of art history, Giorgio Vasari, Schiavone was an associate of Titian's good buddy, Pietro Aretino, who Wikipedia describes as "an Italian author, playwright, poet, satirist and blackmailer who wielded immense influence on contemporary art and politics and invented modern literate pornography." Schiavone was new and unconventional, and divided the opinion of both the critics and the public.

Titian The Aldobrandini Madonna
Titian The Aldobrandini Madonna (1532 c.)
Schiovane's background is full of mystery. There are only two dates in the life of Andrea Meldolla that can be confirmed: that he died in Venice in 1563, and that he painted the Abduction of Helen in 1547, the only work that he signed and dated. But he associated with the most important artists in Venice at the time, and his work was in the homes of the aristocracy, so he was appreciated in high circles. "Furious with his brush and quick as an arrow," Schiavone was an experimental artist, combining different mediums like drypoint and etching to create his works. Francis L. Richardson, in the Oxford Studies in the History of Art and Architecture, wrote, "Schiavone's role in the development of Titian's ultima maniera perhaps constitutes his greatest contribution to the history of Art." .

Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo, Luigi Brugnaro, Gabriella Belli, Lionello Puppi
Luigi Brugnaro, Venice's controversial new mayor, chose the press conference for Schiavone to announce a major revival of the Civic Museums, saying that few people were aware of the extraordinary quality of art work that was inside the 11 individual museums that are safeguarded by Venice. Brugnaro, who is a wealthy businessman, said that art, if marketed properly, can become an economic resource for the city. The art campaign is to include a massive advertising blitz, as well as educational programs because "art education has to start with the young," and a radical change to the opening hours for the public, including evenings and nights.

I happen to agree with Brugnaro on many of those points, and have been saying the same thing for years -- the museums of Venice have incredible treasures that most people do not know about, and are absolutely in need of a marketing campaign. If another city had just one of Venice's masterpieces, say a Titian, travelers would make a trip just to see it. Venice is bursting with works by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, to name a few -- and I'd wager that 99% of Americans have no idea who Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese are.

Judith II (Salome) by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt Judith II (Salome) (1909)
If you are a regular reader of Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog, you know that I have strongly criticized Brugnaro after being personally attacked by him on Twitter, and after he has done things like threaten to sell Gustav Klimt's Judith II (Salome) because it could raise €70 million, and it has "no relation to the artists and cultural history of Venice." Now, that is a flippant thing to say because the reason why the Klimt is here in the first place is because the Venice Biennale made a wise investment and bought it back in 1910 when it was on show during the Venice Biennale, the first Biennale in all the world. But I do agree that we should let people know it is here because just that one Klimt would be enough to draw people into Ca' Pesaro, Venice's International Gallery of Modern Art. When I took that photo of Judith II, there was only one other person in the room. (I do think that many Americans know who Klimt is -- at least they know the images, if not the name.) 

Luigi Brugnaro, Mayor of Venice and Cat Bauer
Luigi Brugnaro and Cat Bauer (iPad)
As I walked around the Schiavone exhibition, I decided that things could not get much worse between me and Luigi Brugnaro, and it was better to make peace. He readily agreed -- he was actually quite charming. We asked someone to snap a few photos with my iPad. The mayor said they were too dark and took a couple of selfies with his cellphone. I am sure he thinks he can change my mind about certain things, and I am just as sure I can change his. So, who knows what will happen in the future, but at least it is start.

Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro and Cat Bauer
Luigi Brugnaro and Cat Bauer (selfie)
To me, the biggest problem is that Brugnaro does not live here, and does not truly understand the passion the people inside the historic center of Venice feel for their city. The biggest controversy is over the cruise ships. If Brugnaro could understand that the Venetians are trying to protect the lagoon, which has protected Venice for centuries -- that the lagoon is Venice as much as the churches and palazzi, the calli and the campi are -- that would be a step in the right direction. People say the problem with Brugnaro is that he does not listen, and surrounds himself with sycophants who tell him what he wants to hear, rather than listen to people qualified to give opinions. (On Twitter, he also called me, and others, "intellectual hacks.") Venice is like no other city in the world, and the few remaining people who actually live here do so because they truly, deeply love her, and that must be respected.

Schiavone Meeting Between a Man and a Woman
Andrea Schiavone Meeting Between a Man and a Woman (1550 c.)
Brugnaro seemed to enjoy the Schiavone exhibition, and said that the Venice City Council would continue to support similar exhibitions of high caliber, which required detailed research. Splendors of the Renaissance in Venice - Andrea Schiavone between Parmigianino, Tintoretto and Titian runs through April 10, 2016.

Museo Correr
November 28, 2015 - April 10, 2016
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Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog