Tuesday, April 26, 2016

IMAGINE! Italian Art in the 1960s at Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Roof Terrace at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Imagine sipping prosecco and munching elegant nibbles while gazing at the Grand Canal. Imagine Italy back in the 1960s, after the war and during the economic boom. Imagine what the art world would be like today if Peggy Guggenheim had not scooped up the work of some of the best contemporary artists and sheltered them in her home. Imagine...

When the weather is fine, one of the most beautiful spots for a press conference in Venice is on the roof terrace of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, once home to Peggy Guggenheim, and now home to her collection of modern art. That is where Luca Massimo Barberto, curator of IMAGINE, presented the Guggenheim's latest exhibition to the press.

Drive-In House by Fabio Mauri (1960)
IMAGINE. New Imagery in Italian Art 1960-1969 focuses on some of the leading avant-garde Italian artists of the 60s, and examines the origins and development of new kinds of figurative imagery in Italian art.

In Italy, the 60s were a time of the "boom," when the country transformed into an industrial power, and the art and culture scene radically shifted to reflect the changing times. Without categorizing the period into labels or movements, the exhibition presents a highly selective sampling of Italian artists working during this critical time.

Papal Crest by Franco Angeli (1964)
Each gallery of the exhibition presents different techniques the avant-garde artists experimented with. The first section is entitled "Matter and Screen," and features the use of a screen, where things could both appear and be hidden, and where images were fleeting.

Venus, after Botticelli by Giosetta Fioroni (1965)
Unlike British or American Pop Art, the Italian avant-garde artists bucked the international trend and looked, instead, to art history, creating a "New Mythology," featuring works by Tano Festa, Giosetta Fioroni and Mario Ceroli..

Body in Motion by Mario Schifano (1963)
Two rooms are dedicated to enfant terrible Mario Schifano, one of the greatest Italian painters of the post-war era and a central figure in the return to the image, featuring work he created in reaction to his stay in New York. Body in Motion and in Equilibrium was a key work, going against the world's stampede towards mechanization in media and photography, and instead celebrating the value of humanity.

In the early 60s, Schifano got a studio at 791 Broadway where Jasper Johns and the poet Frank O'Hara also lived. He caroused through the city with O'Hara. One of the results: Words and Drawings, words from the poet and drawings from the artist in a portfolio.

Schifano was part of the groundbreaking International Exhibition of the New Realists show organized by Sidney Janis in 1962, together with such artists as Lichtenstein, Warhol, Oldenburg and Jasper Johns.

Red Dress Collar by Domenico Gnoli (1969)
The next gallery contains samples of Domenico Gnoli's "strange universe:"

"I like America, but my ties are all to Italy. I am metaphysical insofar as I seek painting which is non-eloquent, still and atmospheric, fulled by static sensations. I am not metaphysical because I have never sought to stage, to construct an image. I always use simple and given elements, I want neither to add nor subtract anything. I have never even wanted to distort: I isolate and I represent. My themes are derived from actuality, from the familiar situations of daily life; since I never intervene actively against the object, I can sense the magic of its presence."

Self-portrait by Giulio Paolini (1968)
"Image, Photograph, Current Affairs" is a gallery that examines the relation of the Italian pictorial image to the world of photography and the media. Mimo Rotella experimented with photo-mechanical processes; Giulio Paolini was interested in the photographed image in relationship to the concept of time, asserting "Each of my works, by extension, is a photograph... it is from the experience of photography that the meaning of drawing is acquired, for that which is drawn to be true and thus, for ever, intact."

Burnt Rose by Michelangelo Pistoletto (1965)
The last rooms contain works by Pino Pascali, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Jannis Kounelli in "The Form of the Metaphor, The Forms of Nature," where the idea morphs into an object.

IMAGINE. NEW IMAGERY IN ITALIAN ART 1960-1969 runs through September 19, 2016 at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Images courtesy the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Viennese Architects Wow at Rooms of Glass in Venice

Glass of the Architects - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Human beings love glass, a magical substance created when sand meets fire. Blown glass has been a long Venetian tradition, which has famously produced exquisite objects both beautiful to behold and practical to use over the centuries.

But glass is not limited to Venice. Pasquale Gagliardi, Secretary General of the Giorgio Cini Foundation, said that although the project LE STANZE DEL VETRO was originally intended to showcase twentieth-century Venetian glass, he realized that exhibitions from other countries could be usefully compared with the art of glass in Venice.

THE GLASS OF THE ARCHITECTS. VIENNA 1900-1937 does just that. At the dawn of the 20th century, a group of young architects -- students of Otto Wagner at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna -- developed a special interest in glass, which, at the time, was also considered to be the most modernist medium in architecture.

In the first half of the twentieth century, in three different places: Austria, Finland and Italy -- especially Venice and Milan -- glass played a prominent part in the renewal of the decorative arts and the creation of modern taste, although similar developments were taking place in Britain, France and Belgium.

The Viennese architects worked with designers and radically transformed the industry, even working at the glass factories themselves.

The result was a treasure trove of fantastic glass objects, over 300 of which are on display here in Venice at Le Stanze del Vetro on the Island of San Giorgio. Most of the works come from the collection of the MAK (the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art) in Vienna and private collections.

The exhibition celebrates the birth of modern Austrian glassmaking in the period between the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Republic of Austria, and contains some truly remarkable works of art and craft.

I don't know if it's because my last name is Bauer, but I felt a special affinity to the glass from Vienna.

The Glass of the Architects. Vienna 1900-1937 runs through July 31, 2016, and is free to the public.

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Helmut Newton - Erotic and Provocative Photo Exhibit at Tre Oci in Venice

Bergstrom over Paris
from the series Sleepless Nights
© Helmut Newton Estate
(Venice, Italy) Helmut Newton was a naughty boy who became a legend when he published his first photography book White Women in 1976, paving the way for the visual eroticism of fashion. Newton was 56-years-old when the book came out, which shocked and seduced the world by revolutionizing the standard of how the female image was viewed.

Rue Aubriot
from the series White Women
Paris 1975
© Helmut Newton Estate
Newton was born Helmut Neustädter on October 31, 1920 in Weimer Republic Berlin into a wealthy Jewish family. He bought his first camera at age 12, and started working with German theatrical photographer Yva in 1936. As the sultry world of the Weimer Republic morphed into Nazi Germany, and Jews became increasingly restricted, his father lost his business, and was briefly interred in a concentration camp. His parents fled to South America; Newton went to Singapore in 1938. When Germany invaded France, German Jews were considered enemy aliens, and Newton was sent to an internment camp in Australia in 1940.

Tied Up Torso
from the series Big Nudes
Ramatuelle 1980
© Helmut Newton Estate
Newton became a naturalized Australian, served in the army and, in 1948, married the actress June Brunell, who used the nom de plume Alice Springs as a photographer. June was constantly by his side and shared his social and professional life, enjoying such antics as posing for him nude while doing household chores. Newton would remain married to her for the rest of his life.

Self-Portrait with Wife and Models
from the series Big Nudes
Vogue Studio, Paris 1981
© Helmut Newton Estate
We can only imagine how it was to grow up with a background like that, but Newton chose to respond with an ironic sense of humor, crossing fashion with transgression, and worked with professional models and friends who were in on the joke. At the time Newton arrived on the fashion scene, the image of the female in magazines was compliant and subservient. He flipped that image on its head. Newton's models were bold, strong and in charge of their own sexuality.

Dummy and human III, Paris, 1977
Over the course of his career, he worked for such fashion designers as Chanel,Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent; celebrities like Ava Gardner, Charlotte Rampling, Sigourney Weaver and Raquel Welch; and major fashion magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Marie Claire.

Charlotte Rampling, Hotel Nord-Pinus I Arles, 1973
On view at Tre Oci are images from White Women, Sleepless Nights and Big Nudes, the first three legendary books that Newton published in the late 1970s, and the only ones Newton himself curated. Newton juxtaposed pictures he had been commissioned to take with kinkier ones he took for himself, like Sie kommen, where he had four models dressed in fashion, then had them strike the same pose completely nude except for shoes.

Sie kommen
(dressed & undressed)
from the series Big Nudes
Paris 1981
Though his photos pushed the edge, Newton's personality was said to be warm and sweet, open and generous. Helmut and June were known as a fun couple who deeply loved life, and each other.

Helmut Newton died in Los Angeles at age 83 when he lost control of his car while leaving the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Sunset Boulevard -- the Newtons wintered there when not in Monte Carlo. He had suffered a heart attack. June was in the car with him, but is still going strong in her nineties. 

Garden of Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa - Photo by Cat Bauer
Garden of Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa - Photo: Cat Bauer
After viewing the photos with Matthias Harder, the Curator of the exhibition and chief Curator at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, and Denis Curti, Co-curator of the exhibition and Artistic Director of Casa dei Tre Oci on Friday, we enjoyed a Venetian lunch with pizzazz in the enchanted garden of the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, a collaborator of the project, surrounded by spring flowers.

Helmut Newton Fotografie runs through August 7, 2016.

White Women
Sleepless Nights
Big Nudes
April 7 to August 7
Casa dei Tre Oci
Fondamenta delle Zitelle, 43
30133 Giudecca - Venice
Zitelle boat stop, lines 4.1, 4.2, or 2
Daily 10am to 7pm, closed Tuesday
+39 041 241-2332
Full price tickets €12; reductions for students and over 65
#newtonvenezia #treoci

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Villa Barbaro - Paradise on Earth - Palladio & Veronese in the Veneto

Villa Barbaro - Photo Cat Bauer
Villa Barbaro in Maser
(Venice, Italy) On Monday, I visited Paradise on Earth when I went to Villa Barbaro, also known as Villa di Maser, a masterpiece designed by the great architect, Andrea Palladio, in about 1560. Villa Barbaro is a magical estate that was conceived to link the secular to the sacred -- to connect the human to the divine. It is Alice in Wonderland come to life.

Room of the Little Dog Photo Cat Bauer
Room of the Little Dog
Inside, the walls are decorated with astonishing optical illusions by another one of my favorites, the feisty artist, Paolo Veronese. Motifs of everyday life are connected to images of a sacred nature. What is real? What is illusion?

Veronese fresco at Villa Barbaro
This marriage of Palladio and Veronese came about because of the brothers Daniele and Marcantonio Barbaro, the two wise owners of the property, humanists who had a profound influence on art, literature and architecture in Venice and the Veneto during the Renaissance.

The Barbaro brothers were international representatives of Venice. Daniele, the older brother, was a diplomat and scholar; he translated and commented on Vitruvius, and was prominent in the Church, achieving the rank of Cardinal. Marcantonio was Venice's ambassador to France, Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire, and also used his position as a powerful Senator to influence public architecture.

Veronese ceiling fresco
If you are a regular reader of Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog, you will know I have become obsessed by the Renaissance in general, Venice in particular. It blows my mind that the Renaissance was actually orchestrated by a group of enlightened people. .

Veronese fresco at Villa Barbaro, Maser
Maser, Conversations in Villa will be an ongoing project presented by Villa Barbaro, the Veneto Region, and the village of Maser, just north of Treviso.

The first conversation was Paolo Veronese - The Triumph of Light with Irina Artemieva of The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Giuseppe Pavanello of the University of Trieste, and Denis Ton, of the Museum of Belluno, and it took place inside the villa with fantastic images by Veronese dancing all around us.

Elaborate frescoes depicting gods, time, justice, fame and fortune dazzled the senses. Frescoed people peered down upon real people from the ceiling: frescoed figures opened frescoed doors painted on real walls that led to whatever one could dream of lying beyond.

Diamante Luling Buschetti (in turquoise)
Can you imagine living in such a place? Well, Diamante Luling Boschetti and Vittorio Dalle Ore actually do. Diamante is the granddaughter of the wealthy industrialist Count Giuseppe Volpi, who bought the villa in 1934, and brought the neglected estate back to its current prime condition. Diamante -- which means Diamond -- was born there, and later inherited the treasured property.

Inside Villa Barbaro
During the Venetian Republic, Villa Barbaro was a working farm, complete with vineyard. Under the care of Diamante and Vittorio, the villa continues to flourish, producing high-quality wines created with strictly-regulated grapes grown for the ancient winery. The visit to the villa also included a sampling of cheeses and meats, washed down with the Nectar of the Gods.

Nymphaeum at Villa Barbero
Villa Barbaro is also remarkable for the Nymphaeum in its garden. The Archaic Greeks worshiped waterways as gods and goddesses that gave life. Rushing rivers were masculine; gentle springs were feminine; two rivers of equal size that flowed together were man and wife. Nymphs were divine spirits that animated nature, and a nymphaeum was sort of like a shrine to a nymph.

In other words, there was a spring. Next to the spring was a cave. The cave, or grotto, became a shrine to the particular nymph who protected the spring.

Grotto at Villa Barbaro - Photo by Cat Bauer
Grotto inside the Nymphaeum at Villa Barbero - Photo: Cat Bauer
There was a natural spring on the Barbaro property when the brothers inherited the country estate, which was believed to have been a place of worship in earlier times, and it was decided to create the Nymphaeum, complete with grotto, in the design. With true synchronicity, it turned out that the current owner, Diamante, is the cousin of a friend of mine, and I was given the rare opportunity to snap a photo of the inside of the grotto.

Tempietto Barbaro
Tradition says that Palladio died in Maser in 1580 while working on the building of the tempietto, the last structure he designed (along with the Teatro Olimpico, a Renaissance theatre in Vicenza), and the first religious structure to be attached to a Palladian villa. Designing the tempietto was a dream come true for Palladio, allowing him to combine a circle and a Greek cross, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The Temple served the Villa Barbaro, and was also the church of Maser, located at the foot of the hill where the villa stands.

The Little Dog at Villa Barbaro
To get to Villa Barbaro without a car from Venice is a matter of coordinating public transportation. I took a train to Treviso, then transferred to a train to Montebelluno. I got off and asked the station how to get to the villa, then took the #162 bus that passed through Maser; it was about a 10 minute walk to the villa. (You could also take a taxi from the Belluna train station.) It took just under two hours to get there from Venice.

More synchronicity: after the lecture, I ran into a friend from Treviso, who drove me straight to the station, and got back to Venice in about an hour.

Villa di Maser, Villa Barbaro, is a Unesco World Heritage site, and is open to the public. Check the website for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog