Monday, April 30, 2018

Those Big Hands Need a Home - #ClimateChange in Venice - "Support" by Lorenzo Quinn

Support by Lorenzo Quinn - Photo courtesy of Halcyon Gallery
(Venice, Italy) Lorenzo Quinn's technique is to first conceptualize his sculptures with written words. The text is then displayed along with the artwork as an integral part of the piece.

Two years ago, on his birthday, May 7, Lorenzo was with his friend, Lorenza Lain, the general manager of Ca' Sagredo Hotel, when he got the idea for Support -- two giant white hands of a child emerging from the water of the Grand Canal, supporting and protecting the historic palace.
Venice, the floating city of art and culture that has inspired
humanity for centuries, is threatened by climate change and
time decay and is in need of the support of our generation
and future ones.

As the young grow in hunger for knowledge and action, so
does their ability to spread ideas and inspire us all. The hands 
of a child, representing our present and future, supporting 
life and culture, hold the historic palazzo of Ca' Sagredo in
Venice -- the birthplace of my mother and my wife, a city to
which I feel deep connection, love and gratitude.

Sitting one day on Ca' Sagredo's terrace, viewing the scene
of the Grand Canal and reflecting on art, history and our
responsibilities, I was inspired by the vision of Support rising
from the waters, greeting and protecting us all.

The realisation of this artwork is a fulfillment of a dream and
a hope that we all share in our hearts.

---Lorenzo Quinn

Lorenza Lain & Lorenzo Quinn on Ca' Sagredo terrace - Photo: Cat Bauer
Lorenzo is one of Anthony Quinn's thirteen children (by three wives and two mistresses), and was at his father's side when he died on June 3, 2001. Lorenzo's mother was Quinn's second wife, Iolanda Addolori, a Venetian wardrobe mistress whom Anthony Quinn met on the Rome set of Barabbas in 1961. Lorenzo split his childhood between the United States and Italy, and feels deeply connected to Venice.

Support by Lorenzo Quinn - Photo: Cat Bauer
Support had been given permission to be exhibited as a temporary art installation during La Biennale di Venezia's 57th International Art Exhibition in 2017 until it closed on November 26, 2017. It was not an official collateral event selected by Christine Macel, the curator of Viva Arte Viva, and approved by La Biennale di Venezia.

Today, at a conference on the terrace of Ca' Sagredo, Lorenzo Quinn said that he was sad. He feels the artwork belongs to everyone, and has donated Support to Venice, but a public space to display the monumental work has yet to be found. Since it had been given permission to be exhibited as a temporary exhibition only during the La Biennale Art Exhibition, Support must leave Ca' Sagredo by next week, May 7th, Lorenzo's 52nd birthday -- it's already about six months overdue.

Right now, the plan is to move Support to Spain, where Lorenzo has his studio. Unfortunately, the hands must be cut in order to transport them. Someone asked that instead of the hands moving from Ca' Sagredo up the Grand Canal to Piazzale Roma, if they could instead go in the opposite direction so that the whole city of Venice could see them.

Lorenzo Quinn & Cat Bauer - Photo: Silvana Di Puorto "Support" at Ca' Sagredo in Venice
Lorenzo Quinn & Cat Bauer - Photo: Silvana Di Puorto
In my view, it seemed nonsensical to move the hands all the way to Spain, just to move them back to Venice when a permanent space was found. I thought that Support might also fit the theme of La Biennale's International Architecture Exhibition, FREESPACE, which previews on May 24, and focuses on "a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity." (While researching this post, after discovering Support on such sites like The Atlantic, I even found it featured on an architecture site, Archipanic, published during the 2017 Art Biennale as an architecture and design-related event; Archipanic's motto is: “Be respectful and keep a down to earth attitude, because humans must always be at the center“.)

I suggested that they reapply for permission as a temporary exhibition during the Architecture Exhibition, which would allow the hands to remain in place until November 25, and give them more time to find a permanent location in Venice. I have no idea if that's even possible, but the worst that can happen is that the answer is no.

Who knows what the future will bring. For sure, those big, powerful hands draw attention as you pass by on the Grand Canal. I wonder how many people know what they actually represent...

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Be the Flame, not the Moth: World's first Casanova Museum in Venice

Shadow installation at Casanova Museum & Experience
(Venice, Italy) The world's first Casanova Museum & Experience challenges what, exactly, constitutes a museum. The six-room museum housed in Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, a Gothic-style palace overlooking the Misericordia Canal, is crammed with the high-impact story of a complex man whose very name still seduces us nearly 300 years after his birth. It combines virtual reality, a shadow installation and an audio guide narrated in a potpourri of languages, together with 18th century fashion, gambling and much more.

"Be the flame, not the moth."
---Giacomo Casanova 

Giacomo Casanova was born on April 2, 1725 in Venice into a family of actors, the oldest of six brothers and sisters. He was sickly, and thought to be mentally deficit. His grandmother watched him while his parents were on tour; his mother gave birth to a second, more favored, son while in London. His father died when he was eight-years-old, but there is a question about his paternity -- rumor was that he was the illegitimate son of Michele Grimani, the aristocratic owner of the San Samuele Theatre where his parents worked.

Casanova was sent to a boardinghouse in Padua at age nine, where he finally kicked into gear and started to find his voice, and refused to accept his circumstances. He felt abandoned in the lice-ridden house, insisted on eating with his own silverware, and moved in with his primary instructor, a priest named Gozzi, who tutored him and taught him the violin.

It turned out that he was, in reality, supremely intelligent. Casanova obtained a law degree from the University of Padua at age seventeen, but would have preferred a career in medicine -- he also studied philosophy, mathematics and chemistry, and prescribed his own treatments for himself and his friends. Under the insistence of his guardian, he became an abbot, and began a career as an ecclesiastical attorney, which was was short-lived.

He bought a commission and became a military officer because he liked dressing up as a soldier, but found his duty boring, and lost most of his pay playing faro. He sold his commission and decided to become a professional gambler, but again lost all his money. To make ends meet, he next became a violinist who delighted in playing scandalous practical jokes with his fellow musicians. And he discovered women.

Casanova Museum & Experience
During Carnival, I highlighted one of Casanova's escapades in which he and his gang kidnapped a pretty young wife away from her husband, which gives you a taste of his personality in his own words:

Casanova & Friends - A Venice Carnival Seduction

In April 1746, at the age of 21, fate stepped in and flipped Casanova's life around. He was hired to play the violin during a three-day wedding celebration of two aristocratic families. On the third day, near the end of the festivities, just before dawn, he left to go home. He noticed a senator in a red robe reach into his pocket for a handkerchief and drop a letter. Casanova picked up the letter, caught up to the nobleman, and handed it to him just as he was about to get in his gondola. The senator thanked him, and offered him a ride home.

During the gondola ride, the senator suffered an apoplectic fit and seemed to be dying. Casanova stayed by his side when the senator was brought home to Palazzo Bragadin -- it turned out that the senator was the celebrated Matteo Bragadin, one of Venice's most eloquent statesmen. Two other patricians arrived; a doctor arrived and applied mercury to Bragadin's chest, and a priest was called to administer last rites.

The young Casanova, an obscure fiddler, refused to leave the senator because he felt that if he left Bragadin would die, but as long as he stayed, he would live. Around midnight, Bragadin could barely breathe. Casanova thought the doctor was a quack. He woke up the two other patricians, and washed the poisonous mercury ointment off Bragadin's chest. Immediately the senator improved.

Bragadin became convinced that Casanova had esoteric knowledge, and Casanova played the role to the hilt. The illustrious senator declared that he owed his life to Casanova, and offered to treat him as a son, giving him an apartment inside the palazzo, a servant and a stipend. And thus a legend was born.

Casanova Museum - Photo: Cat Bauer
Bragadin became his lifelong patron and introduced him to the aristocracy, a life that Casanova much preferred. He set off on his own Grand Tour, and joined the Freemasonry in Lyon, France, which provided him a network of connections. However, when he returned to Venice, his antics and escapades brought him to the attention of the Venetian inquisitors. He was arrested and thrown into the Piombi, or The Leads, the prison in Palazzo Ducale from which he made a daring escape.

He was not to return to Venice for eighteen years. During that time, he met everyone in Europe who was anyone, including Benjamin Franklin and Catherine the Great. He made and lost millions, and had numerous licentious and ardent love affairs. The affairs that fascinated him the most were the ones with intelligent women.

"Let anyone ask a beautiful woman without wit whether she would be willing to exchange a small portion of her beauty for a sufficient dose of wit. If she speaks the truth, she will say, 'No, I am satisfied to be as I am.' But why is she satisfied? Because she is not aware of her own deficiency. 

Let an ugly but witty woman be asked if she would change her wit against beauty, and she will not hesitate in saying no. Why? Because, knowing the value of her wit, she is well aware that it is sufficient by itself to make her a queen in any society."
---Giacomo Casanova 

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro & President Carlo Parodi
Carlo Parodi, President of the Casanova Foundation is passionate about his subject, and plans to invest a lot of time and money into further research of the seductive Venetian's life. Parodi said, "The museum is just the beginning. What we know about Casanova is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the information is still hidden beneath the surface."

The Casanova Museum & Experience opened on April 2, 2018, the 293rd anniversary of Casanova's birthday. The sun was shining for the inauguration on April 6th, which had the blessing of Luigi Brugnaro, the Mayor of Venice. 

Garden at Palazzo Pesaro Papafava - Photo: Cat Bauer
The museum pulses with sound and dramatic lighting. It is divided into six different rooms, with seven different categories -- "Gambling in Society" segues through a hall:

  1. Birth, Family, Youth
  2. Travels, Society, Europe
  3. His Return to Venice, Prison, Escape
  4. Gambling in Society
  5. Poet and Writer
  6. Cinema
  7. Eighteenth Century Fashion: The Bedroom

Casanova Museum & Experience
Casanova started his famous 3,700-page memoir and autobiography, Histoire de ma vie or Story of My Life by 1789, written in French, at age 64 while he was working as a librarian to Count Joseph Karl von Waldstein in the Castle of Dux, Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. The first complete and authentic edition was published between 1960 and 1962. Prior to that, censored and pirated editions existed; wars got in the way, and the manuscript was hidden.

The memoir was originally titled The Story of My Life until the year 1797, but stopped abruptly in the middle of the year 1794. Today, the last four chapters are still missing, and it is not known if Casanova didn't finish it, or whether he destroyed the chapters himself, or whether the pages were destroyed by others, or whether they still exist and are still hidden. In 2010, The Story of My Life was bought for the French government for a record-breaking $9.6 million by an anonymous donor and is now at the National Library of France in Paris. It has been digitized, and you can read it for free.

Giacomo Casanova died on June 4, 1798 at the Castle of Dux. The whereabouts of his grave are unknown. Even though centuries have passed, the freedom and passion with which he lived his life still fascinates us today. Thanks to his memoir, Casanova has left plenty of breadcrumbs that we can follow.

"I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent."
---Giacomo Casanova  

Go to the Casanova Museum & Experience for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent.
Read more at:
I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent.
Read more at:
I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent.
Read more at: