Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Venice, Tuesday morning, June 18, 2013

September 20, 2013

venice 572Breakfast outside on the top floor of the hotel.  I’m used to the small birds watching carefully for crumbs, but this seagull swooped in on a table that had just been vacated.  Seagulls are pretty big!  (But at the Serengeti Sopa Lodge in Tanzania – where I was on safari four years ago – monkeys waited for you to leave your breakfast table so they could grab packages of sugar and butter, and any of the delicious small bananas left over.)

After breakfast we walked to Giardini della Biennale for Il Palazzo Enciclopedico.

The Venice giardini is an area of parkland in the historic city of Venice which hosts the Venice Biennale Art Festival, a major part of the city’s cultural biennale. The gardens were created by Napoleon Bonaparte who drained an area of marshland in order to create a public garden on the banks of the Bacino di San Marco which is a narrow stretch of water dividing the gardens from St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace.

The gardens contain 30 permanent pavilions. Each pavilion is allocated to a particular nation and displays works of art by its nationals during the Venice Biennale. Several of the pavilions were designed by leading architects of the 20th century, including Carlo Scarpa and Alvar Aalto.

From Google maps (the quote above from Wikipedia), here is most of the triangle of the park, sprinkled with the pavilions.  The large one in the upper right is the Central Pavilion.


push cartA bit of a walk along the Grand Canal, up and down stairs crossing minor canals.  But if we thought there were a lot of stairs, consider that the only way to get merchandise around a city of canals includes bouncing a cart up and down the stairs.

Realized, as we were walking 15 minutes from our hotel to the Giardini della Biennale, that there are 12 steps up a bridge over each minor canal, 12 steps down, hard on my knees.  But half of those in our group have bad feet, knees, hips, back.   At least there was a ramp over the highest flight of steps.

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Note: visiting Venice in June one should bring an attractive umbrella or a good fan.  Our group was starting to look like an Asian tour group, the women holding umbrellas, except that we had brought our umbrellas expecting rain and were now using them to venice 574combat the heat!

There were people dressed in cheesy carnival costumes posing along the canal.  (Notice the Asian group behind with umbrellas.)



The Encyclopedic Palace (Il Palazzo Enciclopedico) is the title of the Venice Biennale’s 55th International Art Exhibition.venice 654

The Exhibition draws inspiration from the model of a utopian dream by Marino Auriti who filed a design with the U.S. Patent office in 1955, depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico, a museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge. Auriti created a model of a 136-story building to be built in Washington D.C., which would stand seven hundred meters tall and take up over sixteen square city blocks.

(We saw the huge model later in the day but I’ll insert it here.)

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First the American Pavilion.   New Yorker Sarah Sze (her father is Chinese, hence the last name) uses ordinary objects to create sculptures and site-specific installations.  Called “Triple Point,” her exhibition is about “orientation and disorientation.”  The New York Times has an interesting review (just the first page).  sarah-szes

Her art is totally weird and ambitious.  Imagine fixing these fake rocks to the roof of the pavilion.  The inside is even weirder!  I kinda stood there gap-mouthed.  Here are just a few of my photos to give you an idea of her montage, which takes up all of the rooms of the pavilion as well as the outside.  And I know my mother’s first comment would have been, How would you dust it?



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venice 580Then the Dutch Pavilion with Mark Manders’ Room with Broken Sentence, which starts with Window with Fake Newspapers, newspapers as vitrines (glass display cases), no word repeated, our relationship with words via newspapers.  Inside Working Table.  The head an important element – compare self with artwork.  And Mind Study.  Notice that the table is held up by the chairs, and the clay figure is supported by tension cables.  The sculpture and the woodwork are beautifully done.  A joke – what we expect to see v. art.  (Our guide, Francesca, who has pre-looked at everything, and culled for our “short” schedule, gives us insights into the artworks.)

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My favorite, however, is his Fox/Mouse/Belt.  My photo of it here, and a photo of it in a Via Garibaldi mini-mart:

since 1991 I always test a work that I’ve just finished in a supermarket. I just imagine a new work there and I check if it can survive where it doesn’t have the label of an artwork. It is just a thing that someone placed in a supermarket. Now I am sure that all of my works can stand in that environment.1

venice 585Venice: Fox/Mouse/Belt by Mark Manders, in a Via Garibaldi mini-mart

finland1findland2Next Finlandia with Falling Trees.  Outside Antii Laitinen has  done Tree Reconstruction, an installation/ performance.   (These two construction venice 587photos from the web site2.)

True to its title, the exhibition concept revisits a dramatic event at the 2011 biennale: the abrupt falling of a large tree that left the Finnish pavilion severely damaged and effectively closed the exhibition ahead of time. With this singular event as its starting point, Falling Trees reassesses our relationship with nature through multiple means of re-enactment and repetition. 3

venice 588Inside is his second work, It’s My Island, a 3-channel video projection in which Laitinen builds an island for himself.

venice 508Francesca talked about the microcosm, change of scale, an untidy world, ellipses, spheres, the environment – an unstable world.

venice 603On to the Belgian pavilion which

… featured the work of artist Berlinde de Bruyckere titled Cripplewood. This large scale wax installation that accurately reproduces a vast fallen tree trunk, with a disturbing resemblance to the bones, muscles and tendons of the human form. 4

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Notice how some of the branches are bandaged, and bleeding, as though cut.  Bruyckere has made the tree, an elm tree cast in wax, which took her a year and a half to complete, human.  There are no electric lights, just the large skylight covered with gunny sacks.

If you inspect other works of hers, they’re all pretty gruesome.   She alludes to the dark, pain, suffering, death around the corner.  Her human-sized pieces go for about €300K.

venice 579venice 696Now the Central Pavilion: The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, is meant to house all worldly art, encompassing over 150 artists from 37 different countries. at least a representation for the last maybe two hundred years (?)  We are bombarded by information, newspaper, TV, computer, and so on, under attack by images. So Massimiliano assembled thousands of drawings, sculptures from central Africa, stones from gem and mineral museums.  No one in the world knows everything, so walk through and build up your own story.

Interesting comment from the Huffington Postil-palazzo-enciclopedico

There was Carl Gustav Jung’s The Red Book, a vision of god, drawn monsters, fears (plus awesome calligraphy).

venice 611The central space, a tall dome.  These figures by architect Walter Pichler.  The New York Times mentioned in his recent obituary,

His architectural drawings were not just plans; they were also works of art in and of themselves. Other images — “dream drawings,” as he called them — were dark and psychologically loaded. His figures were often skeletal or robotic.5  

venice 609From Germany the performance of two people (at other times three), moving about almost in dance, singing in what sounded like the Bantu click language, Tino Sehgal’s untitled new work.  (Sehgal was awarded this year’s Golden Lion for Best Artist for his bizarre, kinetic performance piece.  (!)

Tino Sehgal is a British-German artist of partly Indian origin, based in Berlin. His works, which he calls “constructed situations”, involve one or more people carrying out instructions conceived by the artist.

Check out Wikipedia for descriptions of his varied works, such as:

In 1999, Sehgal worked with a dance collective in Belgium and developed a piece, a series of movements performed in twenty different dance styles, from Nijinsky to Balanchine to Cunningham, and so forth. The piece last 55 minutes as the artist danced completely naked on an empty stage.

For Polish visual artist, filmmaker and photographer Artur Żmijewski’s video Blindly, he asked a group of blind people to make paintings.  Is this art?  A number of his works have been controversial.  Read this article: Artur Żmijewski. And The Daily Beast comments:

If Zmijewski’s greatest video showed deaf people learning to grunt out a Bach cantata, this more recent one shows the messes blind people make when asked to paint. In my full review of the Biennale in this week’s Newsweek, I argue that Zmijewski’s video represents the dilemma at the heart of all artmaking today, including in the Venice show: A sense of absolute pointlessness and powerlessness, and a determination nevertheless to go on making art. 6

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venice 614Then there are the Shaker Gift Drawings, the minerals (not that exciting after you’ve been to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show), and works by Israeli Uri Aran.  This is an interesting interview with him:  Uri Aran

Austrian Maria Lassnig, now ninety-three years old, is known for her self-portraits.  I rather like this one, Even with guinea pigs, a large painting, over 3’ x 4’.  (Can do without the one with the gun to her head.)

venice 615One of the women I work with, who is from Iran (although she does not wear a hijab, she has some of that ethos) asked why artists have to paint the naked body.  I said that a naked body is Granny Centerfoldbeautiful, but I have to edit that to young naked body.  Lassnig’s sagging breasts aren’t exactly beautiful, although she reminds me of Robert ‘Buck’ Brown’s famous Granny cartoon character in Playboy magazine.

venice 616I didn’t like Italian Marisa Merz’s colorful drawings, but then she is known as a sculptor, and I preferred this female head in a cocoon-like shell, done with aluminum.  She is eighty-four years old and is known for her postwar organic forms.




Both Maria Lassnig and Marisa Merz received Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement at the exhibition’s opening.


Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is an artist of Ghanaian descent based in London.  She won the Future Generation Art Prize, presented by the PinchukArtCentre through the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.  (The PinchukArtCentrevenice 617 – one word – is an international centre for 21st century contemporary art located in Kyiv, Ukraine.  Victor Pinchuk is a Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist.)  I took a photo of one of the pieces that I couldn’t find a name for on the internet.  We were told that she started in Harlem, and wanted to paint black people to make up for all of the white people in paintings.  Reverse racism.

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Then there’s Polish artist Eva Kotátková’s Asylum.  But the New York Times saw an arm that I missed.  We are told that she uses an archeological approach.  This is a gate for the human shape, a re-education machine, a torture chamber.

In Asylum she collaborated with patients at a psychiatric hospital outside Prague. The individual pieces reflect patients’ social hierarchies and ways of communication. 7

venice 622venice 621In the next room Richard Serra’s iconic (every article today has to use that word) blocks.  From British newspaper The Guardian comment by art critic Adrian Searle entitled Venice Biennale: how much is that fox in the mini-mart?

…a great two-part Richard Serra sculpture, titled Pasolini (after the Italian film director), shares a space with recent, black seascapes by Belgian artist Thierry de Cordier. 8

I love Cordier’s paintings, but the glass on them reflects too much; looks like we’re all swimming under water.  But if you click on the photo you can zoom in and look at the brush technique.  There’s a lot of information about him on the Belgium Pavilion site:

…seascapes that are partly inspired by the vast, black and white topographical paintings made in China during the 10th and 11th century, yet capture the essential qualities of the landscape and light of Northern Europe. The grey skies and ink black seas of his monochromatic paintings evoke melancholy, with the most dramatic scenes being those in which waves and mountainous cliffs fuse together to embody the forces of nature within a single primal image. 9

venice 628Carlo Scarpa was the architect for the Venezuelan Pavilion in 1954.  (Did you know that Venezuela means “little Venice”?)  Sure makes our American Doric-columned pavilion look stodgy.   (We didn’t go in.)  Henry Vicente practically has an orgasm describing it in Dawn.10

Interesting that the Germany‘s national exhibition is located in France‘s pavilion (they swapped pavilions) but showcases Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Bang.

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…886 wooden antique stools. For centuries in Chinese culture it was common for families to have at least one of these handcrafted 3-leg stools for use in the home that was often passed down through generations. As the country has developed at lightning speed the stools have quickly been replaced by plastic and metal alternatives. Weiwei salvaged hundreds of these stools and used them to build this sprawling and nearly organic installation.

Reminiscent of his Forever Bicycles that I blogged about11 on our Cuba last year.  (Note: Sunday’s NY Times travel section had an article Cuba Opens Up, Group by Group12.)

venice 637In an adjoining room, Indian photographer Dayanita Singh with slide projections of her life as a woman in Indian society.

In another room, brief films by Romuald Karmakar, a French film director, screenwriter and producer. He was born in Germany as the venice 635son of an Iranian father and a French mother.  (So he does have ties to both Germany and France.)

This article in Arterritory titled The Venice Biennale, with an Odor of Decaying Capitalism discusses the pavilion’s contents and Karmakar’s videos Rhinoceros and Anticipation.  (It’s a long quote, but I thought that it was good.)

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The amount of visitors allowed in at one time to Germany’s national exhibition is being carefully rationed. Speaking in various tongues, the line of art lovers patiently wait their turn. While we wait, a short film by French artist and film director Romuald Karmakar is being shown in a loop, projected onto the outer wall of the pavilion; it is of a rhinoceros eating hay at the Berlin Zoo. At first, it looks as if it’s impossible to even enter the pavilion due to the humongous pile of three-legged stools that can be seen over the heads of those in front of me – they appear to be stretching out in all directions, practically reaching the white wooden beams that support the pavilion’s glass ceiling. As written in the annotation, each stool in the gargantuan installation represents an individual’s relationship to the postmodern world, which is developing at the speed of light. Immediately behind Ai Weiwei’s sculpture, in the final room, is another of Karmakar’s videos – a large-scale, grainy depiction of tree-tops being whipped by a storm. It is the short film “Anticipation”, which depicts the moments before the culmination of Tropical Storm Sandy in October of 2012. 13

Great Britian’s pavilion with English Magic by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller is provocative. The theme of the exhibition itself is broadly about British culture and national identity, and the ideas that are highlighted include popular culture, music, tax evasion, accountability, history, arts and crafts, the military, prisons and the natural world.

The Turner Prize, named after the painter J. M. W. Turner, is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. Awarding the prize is organised by the Tate gallery and staged at Tate Britain.

venice 639First thing you see is a mural of a harrier hen hawk clutching a red Range Rover in its talons, A Good Day for Cyclists.  This replaced Deller’s original posters.

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Mixed Media, Painting
Confronting Bodies: The British Council
Description of Artwork: Posters depiciting two protected harrier hen hawks and a banner emblazoned with the words “Prince Harry Kills Me” were planned as part of artist Jeremy Deller’s British pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
The Incident: At the behest of the British Council, the posters and banner were left out of the exhibition. “We asked Jeremy to reconsider the banner and poster … on the grounds that it could potentially be misconstrued in environments where the British army is currently deployed and perceived to be disrespectful of those who had lost their lives,” said a British Council spokesman.
Results of Incident: Jeremy Deller agreed to remove the piece from the exhibition, and the exhibition was shown without it.

We were told that Prince Harry had shot two protected harrier hen hawks at the Sandringham estate but did not admit it to the police.  So I guess we have to know a lot of gossip to understand the art.

On the facing wall there is a prognostication, St Helier on Fire (following a riot against Jersey’s status as a tax haven) which Heller says is to happen in 2017.

venice 638yachtIn the next room another mural, We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold, with a giant William Morris (English textile designer, artist, writer, and libertarian Marxist associated with the English Arts and Crafts Movement) about to toss the billion-dollar yacht of Roman Abramovich (a Russian business tycoon and owner of Chelsea Football Club, an English Premier League football team) – parked outside of the Giardini for the last biennale – into the Venetian lagoon.

venice 643venice 645In another room you can sit on a crushed car, It is what it is: Conversations about Iraq, and watch a video.  The film is fantastic, a hawks and owls flying in slow motion, a crushing yard (doing in two Range Rovers), and, instead of a bouncing castle, a bouncing Stonehenge (since you can no longer touch the stones in Stonehenge), with both adults and children jumping all over it, but I really loved the parade, not only with a few bands, but the army going by in tanks, a Finance float, and people marching with signs, showing the stratification of society, and everyone polite: Chartered Secretaries, Actuaries, Launderers, Lightmongers, Educators, Furniture Makers, and so on, lots of interesting costumes, many from Olde England.

Scrapyards, street parades, an inflatable Stonehenge and a giant Sunday roast – all set to a steel drum soundtrack of David Bowie, A Guy Called Gerald and Vaughan Williams, recorded at Abbey Road. In this exclusive video work from his Venice Biennale British pavilion show, Jeremy Deller gives us an off-the-wall vision of England.

The quote is from The Guardian.  Here’s the whole video: english-magic

And there’s a video interview with Deller if you’re interested.15

The French national exhibition in Germany’s pavilion Ravel Ravel Unravel by Albanian video artist Anri Sala, a multi-screen, symphonic film installation of Maurice Ravel’s concerto to be played exclusively by the left hand.

Two films focus separately upon the left hands of two renowned pianists – Louis Lortie and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet – who were invited by Sala to perform the piece. The films, played simultaneously, reveal the differences and discrepancies between the two interpretations of the music, as the temporal lapse becomes more marked. In adjacent rooms, two further films show a DJ mixing the two Ravel performances, becoming a further, unique interpretation of the piece. This, then, becomes the ‘unravel’ to the other films’ ‘ravel’.16

We didn’t get to see the mixing –that room closed due to burned out projector.

venice 649Lunch at the restaurant at the giardini, outside on the patio overlooking the Grand Canal, too much food again.  I ate the primo plus half a glass of wine, no lasagna for €30.  Oh well.  A few clever ones in our group surreptitiously slipped into the sandwich shop instead.

Outside the restaurant a sculpture you might recognize.  Golden Mean, another of Carole Feuerman’s life-sized swimmers.   (We had seen the other on Saturday.17)

china st marksThe afternoon will be in the next blog.

But this just in: China has made replicas of St Mark’s Campanile and the Doge’s Palace tower above an expansive square in Venice Water Town, Hangzhou.  The square is being used for basketball.18  It’s in Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China, by Bianca Bosker.

4  (This site has lots of great photos.)

Murano, Monday afternoon, June 17, 2013

September 11, 2013

We took a boat (of course) to the island of Murano, known for its glass, for a continuation of Glasstress.  We passed the Isola di San Michele, a small island in the lagoon of Venice which consists only of the cemetery of San Michele and its famous Renaissance church (1469).

San Michele is Venice’s cemetery–a role it has borne with dignity since the early 1800s, when Napoleon’s occupying forces told the Venetians to start hauling their dead across the water instead of burying them all over town.

venice 510I liked these lampposts, Metamorphosis – Totally in Love, by Pieke Bogmans.

Thirty-five years ago Adriano Berengo bought the oldest glass factory in Murano, which had been abandoned for 40 years, and made it into the first Museum for Contemporary Art Glass in Murano.  He now has galleries in Venice, Murano and Tokyo.  Nice article about the Berengo Collection here:

Glasstress was conceived by Adriano Berengo.  It started with the 2009 edition of the International Art Exhibition-La Biennale di Venezia.  

venice 514We went first to an artist studio.  Only Art In Glass, by curator Lucca.

Delphine Lucielle paints in San Francisco with glass on glass (hand-woven fiberglass).

Lucielle weaves glass fibres into glass panels, to create multi-dimensional “canvases”. Rather than traditional pigments, she uses natural mineral pigments silkscreened onto and then fused with glass panels hence image and medium become one.

Korean soap sculptor Meekyoung Shin hung a clear glass curtain, seen here in front of one of the other artists.  (Is this correct?  It’s what I have in my venice 513notes, but she is usually known wax sculptures of vases.)

venice 516Karim Rashid is an Egyptian born New York based designer.  He uses old techniques, newly done as art.  Here his Glaskape.

I love Macchia +1 (sounds better than its translation of Blotch + 1) by Pedro Cabrita Reis, a Portuguese artist, who started as a painter.  He pours molten glass on a brass table.

venice 518venice 520Another video art piece by Tony Oursler, False Color Action, this one on glass.  (We had seen one of his works at the Byblos Art Hotel, outside Verona1.)

bees02venice 521Slovakian artist and designer Tomáš Gabzdil Libertíny created The Unbearable Lightness.  bees01Bees, attracted to the glass, have covered it with honeycomb.  (My photo and detail, but the bee photo from the internet.)  In 2010…

… 40,000 worker bees were released into the case to complete a wax honeycomb structure over the figure of a martyred Christ rising out of the chaos, his weight seeming to be upheld by the mass strength of the swarm. The figure within the vitrine is made of a laser sintered framework in which the industrious bees created a honeycomb skin over before filling each cell with the honey they produce. Then bees worked to remove the honey from the cells and return it to the beehive, cleaning the figure back to the wax cells they originally created.

venice 523Brit Helen Storey began her career as a fashion designer, which you can see in this beautiful The Dress of Glass and Flame, which does have a glass of burning bioethanol within.

venice 524Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty created A Walk in the Rain, a quote and “raindrops” on what I think is gorilla glass, as it spans the diagonal of the room.

 “He walked as the rain drops poured down his cheeks like exaggerated salty sorrow that slowly filled his pockets submerging the cashless leather wallet which made him happy to imagine that he was losing a lifetime of fortune to a grand deluge.”

It was key, noted Shetty, to ensure that the experiences he was relating, while largely fictionalised, were of a “generic” nature that people might be able to associate with. 2

venice 525Stuart Haygarth sent Glass House from London, and when the curator (?) started to unpack the pieces, he found they were broken!  After a few were unpacked he realized that the entire house was broken on purpose.

Based on the proverb, those living in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. It’s made out of a steel glasshouse structure. Where the glass would go, it’s been replaced with mirror toughened glass laminate so you can actually shatter the mirror behind the glass but the glass stays intact. As a result you get very fractured panels of mirrors. The shattered mirror glasshouse is illuminated and light reflects off all the surrounding walls in the space it’s shown. It’s also levitating off the ground by 10 cm. It looks like it’s floating. 3

venice 526Student Phil O’Shaughnessy won

… the Berengo Studio award. In winning the competition it involves travelling to Murano to work with the glass blowers to make a piece of art that would be exhibited as part of the Venice Biennale 2013. 4

He created In Search of Hidden Value in Wax from glass and wax candles.

venice 529German Marta Klonowska has done this beautiful koi, The Fish, based on this 19th century Japanese print.  The form is chicken wire and each piece of shattered glass is placed individually.

For the subjects of her works, the artist finds inspiration in the paintings of the great masters, in which pets are side by side with the subjects, acting almost like prestigious objects that are exhibited as synonyms for wealth and power.

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venice 530A private curator got cut once carrying one of her animals into a home, so from then on there are removable rods built into the animals for ease of movement.  (See detail – even though the glass shards are squared off, they are very sharp!)

Each large room has a kiln (for ambiance? as they’re not used here.)

venice 539venice 532The Recycle Group (whose work, Column, Series “Future Archeology”, we saw this morning) did Breath, a mask breathing.  My notes say that it is a video on glass.  ??

Zak Ové, a London based artist, works in film, photography and sculpture. Time Tunnel is popular with people who want to have their photo taken between the segments.

venice 540venice 541More of Pieke venice 543Bergmans’ Metamorphosis – French kiss.

Zak Timan, the son of the couple in our group, makes floating sculpture, with pieces tethered to a vessel bottom, such as Rhapsody in Red, venice 534suspended in liquid spaceHe poses here with Rhapsody.  The detail shows how the red blobs of glass, created without molds, are linked by the almost invisible chain.  It took a team venice 536of five people to assemble.  Unconfirmed by Zak, but rumor has it, the work sold for upwards of $20K!  Way to go Zak!

venice 535Sugar Blues, also shown here, is made with bird’s eggshells tethered by gold-colored threadThe glass containers are hollow and filled with clear oil.  He does the computer modeling in California, as he lives in the San Francisco Bay areaHis web site is pretty awesome, with a page on how he was influenced by Calder.

I’ve also gotten word that Sugar Blues and another similar piece with floating eggshells sold, to collectors in Paris and in Melbourne, Australia, respectively.

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venice 544Upstairs was a living chandelier, Seductive Evolution of Animated Illumination, by Shih Chieh Huang, a New York-based Taiwanese artist who has a fascination with bioluminescent organisms.  The ends blow up and down and the colors change by LEDs.  He used Murano glass plus technology from Taiwan.

venice 549The restaurant was in the building and we had a beautifully presented lunch.  The dessert was a chocolate mousse with whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa in a glass dish over a lavender napkin over a glass saucer.

Then back to the workshop where we watched glassblowing in the back.  Ovens to 1,000°!!!

hutvenice 554The artist who was working at the back made drawings of what he wanted and the two men working with the glass did all venice 557of the HOT work.  I asked him to write his name as he didn’t have business cards with him but am not sure if it was Hellden Hut, which is what it looks like.  He also drew a picture for me in my tiny notebook.

venice 553venice 555Sure felt cool when we got back outside.

venice 559venice 558In front was the gallery/ shop.  Spaniard Juan García Ripollés studied with Joan Miró and makes these whimsical bronze and glass sculptures.  He did the painting too.  He exhibited with Fernando Botero in Venice.  These works go for €6,000 to €12,000 here.

venice 563Luigi Benzoni, who studied architecture and specialized in the history of art, now experiments with the human face, such as, The Mirror and the Mask, with an image in gold-leaf inside.

venice 562Michael Petry, born in Texas but living in London, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) London, and author of many art books, has created these huge (about 15”?) eggs, which go for €4,500.5

venice 560Massimo Lunardon with one of his Aliens, They Come To Help Us.

These are Aliens who come from faraway galaxies and unknown places, arrived in peace to investigate our reality. From the very beginning they have started to get in touch with us, trying to live our daily lives. 6

He said that someone in New York had purchased one of his Aliens when he was there and he thought that he ought to hand-carry it to deliver it rather than risk breakage.  No one on the New York streets or subway even gave him a second look, cuddling an alien.

You can check out the artists at the Berengo Studio website.7

We had some time to shop before our boats came, so I bought three necklaces at €10 each.  They seemed like a steal.  We’ll see if they look tacky back home.

venice 565venice 564A view of the canal in Murano and public art (glass, obviously).


Venice, Monday morning, June 17, 2013

August 28, 2013

venice 208Before breakfast my roomie and I walked to the St. Mark’s bell tower for the Change, as both of us had expected to be able to charge more, and hadn’t brought enough cash.  To change about $113, which worked out to €85.00, I got hit with Commissione of 6.89% and Spese Euro (Expenses) €8.90 for a total of €14.76 ($20.88!!!) so I only got €70.24 in cash.  For Non-ATM Cash from my Chase debit card, I got charged $4.16 and another $5.00 For a Non-ATM Cash Fee.  So to change the money, I got hit with more than $30.  I would recommend that you take enough cash if you go to Italy.

venice 458Francesca Ferrarini, our guide for the Biennale, arrived in a Missoni knit dress.  She works as an independent art advisor, buying art for wealthy clients.  Lives in Verona, trained as an architect. She is also the one who had really worked with C, M, Bruno, and J in determining which venues we should visit during the trip.  Her parents have a villa in Verona; they’re one of the most prominent families there.  (Their living room was originally a chapel.)

(Next to her, Zak Timan, the son of one of the couples in our group, at 27, the youngest artist represented, whose work we will see this afternoon.  He shows up twice with his art in the Video Vernissage on the Glasstress website listed below.)

A vernissage (varnishing, from French) is a term used for a preview of an art exhibition, which may be private, before the formal opening.  

We walked to Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti (built in 1565) for Glasstress 2013 White Light | White Heat, which has its own Facebook page1, as well as a website, (which I used to spell all of the names correctly and for a sentence or two about the artists).

Based on the historic glass culture of Murano, the impulse of Glasstress is to break glasswork free from its stereotypes; to re-place it within the global culture of contemporary art.2

We are all dripping from our walk.

venice 463These outdoor works are Luminosa, and behind it to the left, Bright, by Ursula von Rydingsvard (70 years old, born in Germany, a sculptor who has been working in Brooklyn, New York for the past 30 years).   PBS did a segment on her and her huge wood sculptures, but I couldn’t find anything on how she did these glass sculptures:

There are four galleries who are exhibiting Glasstress, in Murano and Venice, with 65 artists participating, their only requirement be that their work be in glass.

In 1802 Napolean founded Istituto Nazionale,  renamed the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in 1810.  The Institute was moved to this palace, Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, in 1999.

venice 466paladinoItalian Mimmo Paladino’s The Dowsing (reminds me of his sculpture in Sorrento – photo from the Web).

venice 507The bronze head, Rui Rui, seven-meters tall, by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa (who did the digital faces on the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park in Chicago3), outside the palazzo, couldn’t be done in glass.  (I don’t understand the title, which in Japanese means in heaps, and has its own manga, a Japanese genre of cartoons, comic books, and animated films.)

But he also did Blake in Venice, random lines from William Blake’s  Proverbs of Hell:
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The soul of sweet delight…
The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.
The head Sublime…
Truth can never be told so as to be … believ’d.
Enough! or Too much!

Seamlessly suspended before the sunlight, and acting like a blind to the window, the piece focuses the viewer’s attention on the interior of the building, without obstructing the glorious views over the canal. At certain points of the day, the glass letters cast shadows that make the words of William Blake readable from the wooden floor. …this piece in particular accentuates the impressive, yet fragile qualities of the glass medium.4

venice 467venice 551A glass shutter by Miroslaw Balka, a famous contemporary Polish sculptor, and the actual shutter in Murano he copied.

John Isaacs’ Let the Golden Age Begin, an old wagon full of glass balloons, possibly from Beck Hansen’s song by the same name.venice-505

Put your hands on the wheel
Let the golden age begin
Let the window down
Feel the moonlight on your skin…

venice 469Brings to mind Dale Chihuly’s balls of art glass that float.

A Ukrainian artist, Oksana Mas’ Quantum prayer (right), molten glass poured over an engine.  The pouring was a Glasstress event; check out the video on the Glasstress web site5.

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Alice Anderson is a French/British citizen, living and working in London.  She has 30 performers who made these Crystal Time Units (below) with copper thread as performance art.    venice 472The video is here:  This gives you an idea:

venice 473Zhan Wang is a Chinese artist living and working in Beijing.  His Scholar’s Rocks are glass bound in steel.  (Lucca is our guide, dressed in a white T-shirt, white jeans, white tennies.)

venice 474Michael Joo is a Korean-American.  His  Dissembled (version 2) is a mass of Plexiglas riot-police shields, inspired by history:

He returned to Gwangju last year with “Indivisible,’’ an installation built around clay sculptures and transparent, riot- police shields. It garnered attention because it doubled as a tribute to the city’s past, epitomized by the 1980 Gwangju Massacre, Chun Doo- hwan’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations against his military junta proved to be a turning point in Korea’s democracy movement. 6

venice 475This is Paul Fryer’s, a London based artist, Nebula, made from a vacuum pump, computer, aluminum plate, electronic valves, borosilicate glass dome, aluminum platinum form, and piano polished case, part of The Electric Sky.  Check out the video:

Electric Sky explores the hugely controversial theory that our sun is not a thermonuclear reaction but rather a super-massive electrode in a universe composed of an inconceivably gargantuan electrical grid7.

venice 476Mat Collishaw is another London based artist.  His East of Eden has a beautiful black glass foliage mirror frame, a spy mirror, LCD screen and hard drive with a snake video that appears and then fads out.  One web site said that…

Collishaw renders nightmarish horrors with a startling formal elegance.

I thought that sounded like something we’d seen in Verona, and sure enough, we had seen his Preternatural – photos of burning butterflies8.

fingersI hadn’t realized that Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Glass Narcissus was a shadow sculpture, so I had to decrease the contrast on my photo to show the shadow.  The Murano glass sculpture is an amalgam of fingers and penises.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)  Guess the fingers are hers and the penises are his?

There is a glass hammock, Rest of the Incoherent, 2,500 glass beads, made one by one, strung on steel wire, by Loris Cecchini, an Italian artist based in Prato and Berlin.  (I had to show a large photo so that you can see the details.)

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His work explores the meeting of nature and man-made materials resulting in works that are often delicately made, yet awesome in size.

venice 481Aldo Mondino’s Juggler.  (I am translating the titles).  He had been known for his sugar, caramel and chocolate art, so I was surprised to see a fruit.  (He died in 2005.)

venice 482Whitney McVeigh is an Amer- ican artist who lives and works in London.  solitude a breath away consists of an antique baby carriage full of used breast pumps (and 60 new ones that she made).  Guess what – she had just had a baby!

Her work explores the physical and psychological elements of the human condition.

venice 484Joana Vasconcelos was born in Paris and lives and works in Lisbon.  Babylon is a Murano glass, handmade woolen crochet, ornaments and polyester 3-meter-tall chandelier.

…she often uses hand-made textiles and knitting in site-specific installations.

venice 483She and the curator Miguel Amado created the Portugal pavilion in the Biennale this year, from a Lisbon ferry, ferrytransformed into a floating pavilion and artwork.  We did not see it, but this interior photo from the Web gives you an idea.

venice 486JavierPerezBasque artist Javier Pérez’s The Night Journey, a glass pillow, doesn’t begin to represent all of his various works, but you can see more at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  Here’s his self-portrait.

(This Carrion, which was in the 2011 show, I think is more representative of his work.)Carroña

The spectator walks alongside blood-red splinters of glass that are spread over the floor and reaches a broken chandelier. On top of it black ravens, vulture-like, seem to disembowel it. This scenery awakens in us the idea of glamour and wealth coming to an end, like a motionless animal turns into something dead.9

venice 488venice 490Belgian artist Koen Van mechelen’s Under My Skin-C.C.P.  His Cosmo- politan Chicken venice 491Project is interesting.  He’s working on DNA for a super chicken.  This coat is chicken feathers (of course).  Love the chicken with its glass face and feet.  There is also a glass-framed drawing of his favorite chicken.   The mirror is half black, half clear, as his chickens are cross breeds.  Here Vanmechelen gives a TED talk on his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project:

venice 485venice 489





Rina Banerjee is an Indian-born, New York-based artist.  In the Darkest Blossom was a Mythical Beast, Mythical Island, Mythical Sea is made from glass, steel, shells, feather and plastic.  I believe that all of the continents are shown in glass.

Banerjee has called her practice an examination of diasporas and journeys, “specific colonial moments that reinvent place and identity.” Synthesizing mythology, religion, anthropology, and fairy tales, she is equally informed by Western culture and Eastern tradition, particularly Tibetan, Himalayan, and Indian art.10

venice 492
venice 493The Recycle Group is made up of the artists Andrey Blokhin and Georgiy Kuznetsov, both born in Russia.  Loved their Column, Series “Future Archeology”, made from acrylic, glass and rubber, which looks like metal.  But that doesn’t explain the light which seems to come from within.

venice 499Cai Guo-Qiang is a contemporary Chinese artist based in New York.  His Full-Body Scan: Next! has both a room full of mannequins with glass suicide bomber vests (the explosives, detonators, wires, and shrapnel in the glass pockets are created from spurious odds and ends posing as the genuine), and what appears to be an airport body scanner.

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After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Cai Guo-Qiang produced a series of daring works as a response.
9/11 changed people’s lives, treating everyone as a potential bomber. Before boarding flights or entering government buildings, everyone—must now remove their jackets and shoes and empty their pockets to pass through the metal detector gate. This is then followed by a pat-down, and a full-body scan.
A slideshow is projected from behind the vest, showing people of different ethnicity, gender, and attire, each raising their arms with somber facial expressions, as if going through full-body scanners. Behind the metal-detector gate, a queue of mannequins, old and young, men and women, all wearing glass suicide bomber’s vest, wait to go through the full-body scanner to be examined under the fierce, X-ray-like scrutiny of the audience.
At the opening reception on May 31st, semi-nude models wearing the glass suicide bomber’s vests and nonchalantly wandered in Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, mingling with opening guests.

Under Videos on the Glasstress web site, you can see his interview, but not the performance of topless models wearing his vests with lit candles.  It is here, however, on youtube (from which the quote above was taken):

Originally born in Israel, Ron Arad lives and works in London.  He is a famous designer and architect.

‘Last Train’ is based on an image which he has ingrained in his head.  During a trip to Naples, Arad had arrived at the station platform to catch his train out of the city at which time he saw a man in the departing locomotive-completely absorbed in his own self-reflection–etching drawings into the glass window of his compartment.

‘Last Train’ is an interactive work in he has designed a Steinmetz [who commissioned the work] diamond ring which features the precious stones in an ‘X’ formation. a cast of Arad’s fist wearing the hand jewelry pokes through a black cloth and is set in front of a piece of glass. Arad invited a number of artists to create a work on an iPad with a stylus using the ‘last train’ app.

In return the ring has scratched their illustration onto the glass, echoing their every stroke and illuminating their markings. On the May 29th opening, Ron Arad and Javier Mariscal engaged in a live drawing performance, while Ai Weiwei scratched in remotely from Beijing [as he wasn’t allowed to leave China].11

venice 502venice 501venice 503Shown here: the cast of Arad’s fist with the diamond ring scratching the glass, Portrait of My Blind Husband by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, using an iPad with a stylus to draw, Arad’s portrait.

He’s done some pretty nice designing (Atelier Notify, Milan, Duomo Hotel – interior refurbishment, Rimini, Maserati Showroom, Modena, all in Italy, and many in other countries), but the design_museum_holononly building that I could find was the Holon Design Museum in Israel, which is pretty incredible.

We now go to Murano.  That will be the next blog.


Venice, Sunday, June 16, 2013

August 19, 2013

A view of the Grand Canal at breakfast at the hotel.

grand canal

After breakfast (great buffet), we walked to Fondazione Querini Stampalia.  The building dates from 15th century, but today 

…you can find both ancient rooms and Carlo Scarpa’s… contemporary architecture.  

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In previous years the foundation had occupied the building, but flooding of the ground floor meant the spaces there could not be used to their full extent. Scarpa’s interventions helped keep the building usable and an important cultural complex in the city.

querini stampalia1querini stampalia3querini stampalia2Check out these great new details, such as the snazzy radiator, its shape replicated in the stone door to its right, the water gate which lets in the canal, and this gorgeous door on the ground floor, or water entrance. The trough contains the water when the house floods.  The raised walkway’s surface actually coincides with the high-water line.  Carlos Scarpa mixed modern elements and historic, such as marble and white stone, and reinvented space.   The first photo shows the serene patio with water lilies and the sound of water.

This Web site has many more photos than I took:

This Area Scarpa of the Querini Stampalia Foundation housed the Gordon Matta-Clark installation.  Matta-Clark photographed “holes” he  dug into buildings to see the original city, such as this Conical Intersect.

He is famous for his “building cuts,” a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls.matta2

In 1868 Count Giovanni left all his possessions to the city of Venice: real estate and personal property, books and art collections, all for public use.

Querini was one of the twelve founders of the city of Venice.   This ancient collection can be seen on the first floor (which we Americans call the second floor), a restoration done in 1995 for a World Heritage Site1, of the typical atmosphere of the 18th-century residence of aristocrats.  Shown here the centre-piece in the Portego ceiling, the Allegory of Dawn, by Jacopo Guarana, surrounded by other monochrome frescoes representing mythological and artistic allegories.querini stampalia old1

The Museum of Fondazione Querini Stampalia is one of the most important examples of House-Museum, in the heart of Venice, and it is one of the best preserved in all Europe. The noble floor of the Palace recreates the the magnificent residence of the Querini Stampalia family. The ancient collections containing precious furniture, paintings, porcelains, globes, fabrics and sculptures create an inseparable connection in a refined atmosphere, with the luxurious rooms covered with plasters and frescos.

This floor shows the power of the family, stucco on the walls, frescoed ceilings, terrazzo floors, murano glass chandeliers. Lots of priceless old paintings – quite a contrast too all of the contemporary art we’re here to see.

querini stampalia old3First was the Giovanni Bellini Room (he was the founder of the Venetian school of painting) with his Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 1469.   Everyone must have a Mother and Child in their home.

querini stampalia old5Next the Panel Room, with God Is Light, by Palma Vecchio, from the 15th C Giorgione movement.

Then the Italian Mannerist Room, from the end of the 16th century, with works by Palma il Giovani, who painted in the style of Tintoretto, Veronese, Titian,  Is this his self-portrait as Christ?

querini stampalia old6The Music Room.  with a pianoforte from the 19th century.  Pietro Longhi 18th C scenes of everyday life, such as The Dancing Lesson, shown here, another one, The Geography Lesson.   (Imagine wearing all those clothes all of the time!) Some paintings are  from the Donà delle Rose family.

querini stampalia old10Portrait Room:  a full-length of Polo Querini (1680+) by Palma il Vecchio and Marco Vecellio, another of  Nicolò Querini, this one of Leucippus, who developed the atomist theory, by Luca Giordano.

The Giuseppe Jappelli Drawing Room, replete with landscapes.  Antonio Stom’s The Departure of the Bucintoro, 1717.  The Doge marries the sea and the city in a social and public party.  (The bucintoro is the doge’s ceremonial galley.)  At this time Venice was the largest city in Europe with 200,000 residents.  (Now its population is 60,000.)

querini stampalia old11

querini stampalia old19In the Nineteenth Century RoomThe Model, 1920, by Alessandro Milesi, with thick brush strokes, the elegance of the epoch.

In the Scenes of Venetian Life Room, paintings by Gabriel Bellany of scenes of Venetian life, such as this Charlatans in Piazzetta San Marco in Venice showing tooth puller, magician, puppet theater, singers.

querini stampalia old13

And this one of his, Feast of 2nd February at Santa Maria Formosa in Venice which shows the quaint tradition of killing hung cats by head butting.

querini stampalia old14

The Studio – Roman School of paintings in the 18th to 19th C.

querini stampalia mirrorThe Bed Chamber with a mirror of Murano glass and paintings of personal sacraments.

querini stampalia still lifeThe Boudoir with Still Life with Fruit and Shellfish and Still Life with Fruit and Monkey

The two copper scenes of very high quality and realised with great pictorial delicacy … the work of Hans van Essen.

querini stampalia wallpaperThe Red Drawing Room:

The room owes its name to the wall coverings in crimson lance satin and beige brocade dating from the first quarter of the eighteenth century and Venetian made. Against a crimson background and from a base of cacti

querini stampalia old18The Green Drawing Room:

Two consoles with tall mirrors and austere portraits, witness to the importance of the family’s lineage, complete the furnishing of the room.

Followed by Room of the Stuccoes and the Dining Room.  By this time I’d stopped taking photos we were going so quickly through the rooms.  But more detail on them here:

The Library on the second floor houses more than 350,000 books on Venetian history.

As I recall, there are two floors more.  One housed Qiu Zhijie – New Roads – The Unicorn and the Dragon exhibition.  Unfortunately, I forgot to recharge my camera last night, so I got the Unicorn (glass), but missed the Dragon.  (Had taken tons of photos on the top floor before I visited this one.)

unicornThe top floor was taken over by Jacob Hashimoto – Gas Giant.  We saw some of his pieces in Verona.  This space wasn’t as tall, but two rooms were full, floor to ceiling.  You can tell I love his kites.  Look at the pencil detail on these.

gas giant 9J

gas giant 3

gas giant 7

gas giant1

gas giant 6

gas giant 15

Jacob Hashimoto’s site-specific work, composed of 10,000 paper and bamboo kites in rigorous repetition, created an explosive visual landscape shot with a riot of craft, colour and graphic pattern.

Lunch at Barbacani Ristoranti.  I like Italian food, even took cooking classes in Tuscany, but am getting tired of pasta by this time.   Here, as usual, no choice of lunch, as they were serving 30 of us, risotto etcetera for €30!

Then a walk to Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, founded in 1898 by Duchess Bevilacqua, who left  this palace to Venice with the stipulation that it exhibit young artist. who are often barred from entering the great exhibitions.

I was trying to understand why my notes said at this point that the Norway Pavilion hosted international artists.  Goggled and concluded that for this year’s  Biennale Fondazione Bevilacquat houses the Norwegian Pavilion.   I had thought that all individual country pavilions were located in the Giardini.  Not true.

The formal Biennale is based at a park, the Giardini. The Giardini houses 30 permanent national pavilions [as well as] a large exhibition hall that houses a themed exhibition curated by the Biennale’s director.
The gardens were created by Napoleon Bonaparte who drained an area of marshland in order to create a public garden on the banks of the Bacino di San Marco which is a narrow stretch of water dividing the gardens from St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace.

The show, Beware of the Holy WhoreEdvard Munch, Lene Berg and the Dilemma of Emancipation.  I have no photos, so I guess we were not allowed to take any.

holy whoreThe show contains Munch’s drawings and sketches.  The title is based on a drawing of a dead hooker (this photo from the Net).

Munch was born in 1863 in Oslo, a very petite bourgeoisie.  I have a note that his Scream, as a symbol of hysteria, was the cover for the book Psychology and Art but can find nothing on the Web to substantiate that.  Munch had insanity and fears.  Another book on his night table was Sex and Character by Otto Weininger.  He was in Berlin with [here I have a blank in my notes]. He was unsettled by the sexual revolution going on at the time and by the independent women around him.  He also represents illnesses and death – a drawing of an emaciated women.  His 20th century sketches are of everyday life, but ironic.

And he wrote, a long poem called The City of Free Love in which he makes fun of animals and others, for which I cannot find the text on the Web.

A friend has added this:

As for Munch, I happen to know a bit about him from a seminar I led a few years ago. He was part of a group of bohemians in Berlin from about 1892 that included fellow Norwegian playwright, poet and artist August Strindberg, the Polish poet Stanislaw  Przybyszewski and SP’s future wife, a Norwegian writer, Dagny Juel.  They met and drank heavily at a bar called the Black Piglet.  Complicated relationships, free love.  Juel had affairs with all three men and is the subject of some of Munch’s paintings in his cycle of life series, especially Jealousy.  She bore SP two children and was shot to death by a lover in a hotel room a decade later.  Makes Eliot  Spitzer and Anthony Weiner look tame.

There was also an interesting film by Berg of three version of a truth.  This video is the trailer for Dirty Young Loose.  She had done a previous video of hookers talking about “customers” during dinner.

While we were waiting for our boat BJ got dumped on by a seagull – all over his arms, shirt, pants.  We told him he’d have to photoshop the seagull into a photo of him.  Bruno said that it’s supposed to be good luck for Italians.

Lots of people have dropped out of our group – heat, humidity, stairs, standing, walking.  (We were not prepared for the unseasonably hot weather – you’d think the globe was warming up…)

Note: Venice is working on a lock to keep out the rising seas.

The MOSE (MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico) is a project intended to protect the city of Venice, Italy, and the Venetian Lagoon from floods. The project is an integrated system consisting of rows of mobile gates installed at [three] inlets (the gaps connecting the Venice Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea through which the tide ebbs and flows) and able to temporarily isolate the Venetian Lagoon from the Sea during high tides. Together with other measures such as coastal reinforcement, the raising of quaysides and paving and improvement of the lagoon, the Mose has been designed to protect Venice and the lagoon from tides of up to 3 m…

This last winter the water was up 100cm rather than the standard 50cm.  Every home, shop  was under water.  (In ’65 that happened to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence because a dike broke in the mountains.  Much artwork in the basement was lost.)

We take a boat to Giudecca 795 Art Gallery for an artist studio visit.  This home of the Renaissance cloister of the former convent of SS. Cosmas and Damian is also sponsored by the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa.  18- to 35-year-old artists are assigned to ateliers for one year.  (Here are only the painters, other arts in other locations.) How We Dwell (Make Your Own Residence) was done by four artists together, one from Boston, working with found materials, for an environmental organization.

Then a boat to Palazzetto Tito: Exhibition Art from the Japanese Foundation.  Not allowed photos, but as I recall, this was my least favorite show, very apocryphal, with lots of blood.  Here are just three of the artists:

Shuji Terayama with Avant-Guarde Theater, Movie recommended for adult audience, video verging on pornography.

Tomoko Yoneda’s Japanese House, photos taken in Taiwan, remnant of the Japanese Occupation.

Simon Fujiwara’s Mexican Room, with a stuffed  hawk, cactus shooting up through a wicker rocker, photo of a rattler skin, skull with a machete embedded in it, amputated “hand” and “arm”, cowboy not yet unpacked, letters to Jose Luis, with terrible spelling, as he dictated them to actual scribes in Mexico City who type for illiterate people, Fujiwara echoing Cortés.  This installation is described here fully:

Phew!  I was too tired for dinner.  Had prosecco and nosh with my roommate at the hotel and a bag of ice for my knee and I crashed early.


Venice, Saturday 15, 2013 continued

August 7, 2013



By boat (of course) to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.  On the way passed the Rialto Bridge.  Perhaps you remember it mentioned in The Merchant of Venice.  If you haven’t seen that play of Shakespeare’s, see the 2004 movie with Al Pacino as Shylock.  He’s great!

Now, what news on the Rialto?
Why, yet it lives there uncheck’d that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wrecked on the narrow seas…

guggenheim 344As our three boatloads coalesced at the museum we gathered around The Angel of the City by Marino Marini.  The penis is detachable, probably because extremities are hard to cast, but it was stolen!  The present one is a replacement.

The evolution of the subject of the horse and rider reflects Marini’s personal response to that changing context. The theme first appears in his work in 1936, when the proportions of horse and rider are relatively slender and both figures are poised, formal, and calm. By the following year the horse rears and the rider gestures. In 1940 the forms become simplified and more archaic in spirit, and the proportions become squatter. By the late 1940s the horse is planted immobile with its neck extended, strained, ears pinned back, and mouth open, as in the present example, which conveys the qualities characteristic of this period of Marini’s work—affirmation and charged strength associated explicitly with sexual potency. Later, the rider becomes increasingly oblivious of his mount, involved in his own visions or anxieties. Eventually he was to topple from the horse as it fell to the ground in an apocalyptic image of lost control, paralleling Marini’s feelings of despair and uncertainty about the future of the world.

guggenheim 348A pleasant lunch at the Museum.  After that we walked about the gardens until the lecture started.  The jasmine was in bloom.  I overheard someone say, I wish I could capture this scent.  That would have been great for this blog!

guggenheim 350guggenheim 347Here a bronze by Barbara Hepworth, Single Form.  Next, Incomplete Open Cube, painted aluminum, one of Sol LeWitt’s many.  Anthony Caro’s Hinge, steel and aluminum painted red, and his LAL, steel painted guggenheim 349guggenheim 346blue.  Would be happy with any of them in my garden.  (And wouldn’t mind the gardeners to tend it!)  Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, black granite.  It’s nice, but I love his “Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  H’om, the white marble sculpture by Barry Flanagan.

H’om consists of two blocks of smooth white Carrara marble that appear to have been rendered pliable – kneaded, twisted, and molded with gargantuan hands. In 1982 Flanagan noticed two stone sea-horses placed on the Grand Canal terrace of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. These are now located on the roof terrace. Flanagan’s creatures are interpretations of, or ‘homages’ to, these seahorses, with their equine upper torsos and coiled fishtails.

A lecture in the gardens about Peggy.  She was born in 1898 to wealthy patents, Florette, of the wealthy banking Seligmann family, and Benjamin Guggenheim, whose family, by the end of World War I, controlled more than 80% of the world’s supply of silver, copper and lead. The Guggenheims were second generation German Jews who had emigrated in the guggenheim 3511870’s.  She had two sisters, but her father was a playboy and the family was not a happy one.

Guggenheim maintained an apartment in Paris and invested in International Steam Pump, which built the elevators for the Eiffel Tower.  After spending several years living in Paris, Benjamin had decided to return to New York. Unfortunately he booked passage on the ill-fated Titanic.  In the movie, Titanic, Peggy’s father put his French mistress in a lifeboat, then went to his room and dressed for dinner, to go down like a gentleman.

But in 1919 Peggy considered herself an “impoverished” relative as her father’s fortune was not great.  According to Wikipedia,

When she turned 21 in 1919, Peggy Guggenheim inherited $2.5 million, about $33.1 million in today’s currency. Guggenheim’s father … had not amassed the fortune of his siblings; therefore her inheritance was far less than the vast wealth of her cousins.

guggenheim-peggy-1924Stein, Hemingway, lots of American expats (see Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris) were in Paris, so in 1921, Peggy went too.  Photo of her by Man Ray, gown and turban by Paul Poiret.

Poiret (called the King of Fashion for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s survey in 2007) introduced corset-free garments in 1906, the year before Picasso committed his decidedly uninhibited “Demoiselles d’Avignon” to canvas. But with his love of the exotic, his brilliant use of color and pattern, and his penchant for simplified, almost rudimentary form, Poiret most resembles Matisse.

In 1922 she married Laurence Vail, a writer with writer’s block who had been a war hero.  Lawrence was older, erudite, Oxford educated.   He was a painter and a writer, whose relationship with his sister Clothilde would raise eyebrows and cause problems in his marriage. They were together for seven years and had two children, Sindbad and Pegeen, the painter.

Laurence Vail was born in Paris to American parents. His father was also a painter.   Having initially studied in France, Laurence moved to England to study literature at Oxford University. Upon his return to Paris, he devoted himself to writing plays and essays, translating books from French, painting, sculpting, and creating collages. In the late 1920s he was named the ‘king of bohemians,’ associating with writers and artists including Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.

She then moved to England and took a lover, writer John Holmes, but he died on an operating table, while having surgery on his wrist.

Samuel Becket (with whom she had a brief but intense affair) convinced her to get into contemporary art and in 1938 Peggy opened an art gallery in London, the Guggenheim Jeune, as her uncle, Solomon Guggenheim, had already opened a gallery in New York (and Frank Lloyd Wright was to design his museum in 1943).  Marcel Duchamp taught her about contemporary art and styles, and he conceived several exhibitions for her gallery.

Her gallery was losing money so she closed it and decided to open a museum.  English art historian and art critic Herbert Read made her a list of paintings to buy for the museum, and she left for Paris in 1939.

She “decided now to buy paintings by all the painters who were on Herbert Read’s list. I put myself on a regime to buy one picture a day.”

Peggy was acquiring art when the Nazis occupied France in 1941, so she fled to Lisbon, then New York, with her paintings packed as household goods (ten Picassos, forty Ernsts, eight Mirós, four Magrittes, three Man Rays, three Dalís, one Klee, one Wolfgang Paalen and one Chagall among others), together with Max Ernst, who became her second husband.

Guggenheim lionsIn 1942 she opened her museum/gallery Art of This Century.  In 1948 she was invited to exhibit her collection at the Venice Biennale, then purchased the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which had the longest façade on the canal.  (Photos from the internet; check out the lion heads.)

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the Palace that Came from Lions, was probably begun in the 1750’s.
The winged Lion of St. Mark is still featured in the red-yellow flag of the city of Venice (which has six tails, one for each sestier of the city) and in the coat of arms of the city…

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni

From 1951 Peggy opened her house and her collection to the public annually in the summer months.

Unfortunately, I have no indoor photos except for the last room.  We were told not to take photos, so I didn’t but some of our group hadn’t heard and no one stopped them.  Didn’t notice until the last room.  (If any of you would like to email me some of their photos I could add them to the blog.  Thanks.)  So these from the museum’s website, which has lots of info!

guggenheim_moore_sdraiataguggenheim_calder_arcoIn the entry a Henry Moore (not sure if guggenheim_picasso_beachReclining Figure is the right one, she purchased five of his), a Calder Mobile (not sure about Arc of Petals either – she bought three), Picasso’s On the Beach.














guggenheim_metzinger_velodromoguggenheim_marcoussis_habitueIn the dining room Nude Study, Sad Young Man on a Train by Marcel Duchamp, Picasso’s The Poet, Albert Gleizes’ Woman with Animals (Madame Raymond Duchamp Villon), Jean Metzinger’s At the Cycle-Race Track, Louis Marcoussis’ The Regular.  (It’s easy to find the painting if there’s only one by that artist, or if I wrote down the title.)




guggenheim_archipenko_boxerguggenheim_reliquaryguggenheim_dogonAlexander Archipenko’s sculpture, The Boxer, Reliquary Figure from Gabon, Seated Figure, Mali, Dogon, Study of a Nude (is this the correct Fernand Léger?), Constantin  Brancusi’s Maiastra, in polished brass, Georges Braque’s The Clarinet.

guggenheim_leger_nudeguggenheim_brancusi_maiastraguggenheim_braque_clarinetThere is no longer single point perspective.  Following the Picasso-Braque Early Cubism style (which was more lyrical) were the Salon Cubists,  Fauconnier , Metzinger, Gleizes,  Léger, Delaunay, Gris, Duchamp, Duchamp-Villon.  The African pieces are included in this room because they influenced Picasso and others.

guggenheim_kandinsky_red spotsguggenheim_chagall_rainguggenheim_de-chirico_tower


In what used to be the kitchen, Abstract v. Surrealism.  Vasily Kandinsky’s Landscape with Red Spots, Marc Chagall’s Rain.  A painting by Giorgio de Chirico (a proto-surrealist) The Red Tower.  André Breton wrote the Surrealist Manifesto.

In the drawing room, European Geometric Deconstruction.



guggenheim_kandinsky_altoguggenheim_vandoesburg_controcompKandinsy’s Upward, Theo van Doesburg’s Counter Composition XIII.  Piet Mondrian’s Composition No. 1 with Grey and Red.  (I’m  guessing on these three paintings.)  Mondrian’s philosophy to sublimate the individual to the universal.  Joan Miró’s Painting.  (I especially love this one.)



In the library a Salvador Dalí (don’t recognize either in the catalogue), Brancusi’s iconic (sorry I had to use that word, but it seems to be guggenheim_brancusi_birdguggenheim_ernst_antipapade rigor in any discussion of art) Bird in Space.  Max Ernst’s The Antipope.  (He and Peggy were married at this time.)

When Peggy saw the small version (on cardboard, of this painting), she interpreted a dainty horse-human figure on the right as Ernst, who was being fondled by a woman she identified as herself, while Ernst conceded that a third figure, depicted in a three-quarter rear view, was her daughter Pegeen. When Ernst undertook this large version he changed the body of the “Peggy” figure into a greenish column and transferred her amorous gesture to a new character, who wears a pink tunic and is depicted in a relatively naturalistic way.

guggenheim_ernst_kissguggenheim_tanguy_the sunThen there is Ernst’s The Kiss.   Peggy had a brief affair with Yves  Tanguy,  who painted  The Sun in Its Jewel Case.

guggenheim_calder-yellow-moonguggenheim_magritte_lightIn the sitting room, another Caulder, Yellow Moon, a René Magritte, Empire of Light, which doesn’t look a bit surrealistic.  I’ve always liked his work, particularly The blank signature, with a woman riding through a forest.  Alberto Giacometti’s guggenheim_giacometti_throat cutsculpture, Woman with Her Throat Cut (kinda creepy subject matter).

In a group of works made between 1930 and 1933, Alberto Giacometti used the Surrealist techniques of shocking juxtaposition and the distortion and displacement of anatomical parts to express the fears and urges of the subconscious. The aggressiveness with which the human figure is treated in these fantasies of brutal erotic assault graphically conveys their content. The female, seen in horror and longing as both victim and victimizer of male sexuality, is often a crustacean or insect-like form. Woman with Her Throat Cut is a particularly vicious image: the body is splayed open, disemboweled, arched in a paroxysm of sex and death. Body parts are translated into schematic abstract forms. The memory of violence is frozen in the rigidity of rigor mortis. The psychological torment and the sadistic misogyny projected by this sculpture are in startling contrast to the serenity of other contemporaneous pieces by Giacometti.

guggenheim_delavaux_dayguggenheim_miro_womanPaul Delvaux’s The Break of Day, Miro’s Seated Woman II, one of the paintings that he did to respond to the Spanish Civil War.

The expressionistic Seated Woman II can be seen as a final manifestation of Joan Miró’s ”peintures sauvages”, works characterized by violence of execution and imagery. It was painted at a time when Miró was responding acutely to the events of the Spanish Civil War. The human figure has been transmogrified here into a grotesque and bestial creature.

guggenheim_burri_burnedIn the Boudoir, Alberto Burri’s White B.

Burri, in the mid-1950s, began burning his mediums, a process he referred to as combustione. Through this destructive act, Burri drew attention to the process of creation as well as the materiality and transience of his mediums…  Burri explained that he hoped to capture the image of fire.

guggenheim_pollock_eyesguggenheim_gorky_untitledI’ve lost track of what room we were in next, with abstract expression- ism.   A Jackson  Pollock – this one, Eyes in the Heat?  Arshile Gorky’s Untitled.  Mark guggenheim_rothko_redguggenheim_de-kooning_woman-on-the-beachRothko’s Untitled (Red), and one of Willem de Kooning’s, but not sure which one, perhaps Nude Figure— Woman on the Beach?

guggenheim -the Irascibles


Photo of Peggy with “everyone who mattered”, The Irascibles.

I am told I must read Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim by Mary V. Dearborn, but the library doesn’t have it.  Does anyone have a copy that they can lend me?  But this website is good too:

guggenheim 356In the corridor another Rothko.  On the patio along the canal, where we waited for our water taxis, a Calder stabile in red, The Cow.

Next, you guessed it, another boat ride, this time to Palazzo Grassi (an edifice in the Venetian Classical style) owned by French entrepreneur François palazzo_grassiPinault, where Rudolf Stingel has

…covered all the floors and walls of the three-story Palazzo Grassi with a rug resembling an Oriental carpet. Manufactured in Germany, the rug covers a total of some 80,000 square feet. [That’s 50,000 square feet of floor and 30,000 square feet of wall.] The Italian-born artist used an enlarged and slightly out-of-focus photo of an antique Central Asian carpet as the basis for the weaving.

venice 365venice 362venice 359The rug is so out-of-focus that it bothers your brain if you stare at it too close.  The show is curated by the artist himself in collaboration with Elena Geuna.  On these rugs are hung his paintings.

First, looking through many rooms of rugs, after that a photo of my favorite painting.  Next a self-portrait that is 15’ high, but kinda hiding in a corner.  He painted it from a photo, realistic down to the water spot on the original photo!

For the other paintings, lace is placed on the canvas, sprayed through, then removed.  Here are a few details I took.  In the second detail the fabric was wrinkled.  In the third, the fabric was dropped in the process of being removed.

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venice 375Oh, and I got a close-up of the carpet venice 370where it’s coming off above a door, so you can see how it’s thin and glued on.

A portrait of his friend Franz West, who died last year, when he was quite young.    After painting the photorealistic canvas he used it in his studio as a carpet!  I think it rather disrespects his friend.  Here’s a detail of the painting (can you believe it’s not a photo!?), with paint dripped on it.venice 376

Franz West, an influential Austrian sculptor with a penchant for art objects that were willfully unserious, nonideological and accessible and were displayed in Central Park and on the plaza at Lincoln Center, as well as in international exhibitions and blue-chip galleries around the world, died in Vienna. He was 65…  His homely, rough-surfaced materials, like plaster or papier-mâché, sometimes doused with color, challenged accepted taste.

There are also paintings of photos of wooden sculptures from the 14th or 15th century.  (No photos of these.)  Carpet of a photo of a rug with a painting of a photo of a statue from the medieval era.  And the building itself is pretty awesome.  This photo in the stairwell.

Walked back to the hotel.  A bunch of us stopped in Campo Santo Stefano for gelato.  C. had a larger one than I did.

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Walking back from dinner, Saint Mark’s at night:

st mark at nite

Venice, June 15, 2013‏

July 25, 2013

Sorry I’m so late with this.  Had the darndest time with Ca’ Corner della Regina, as, unfortunately, photographs were not allowed (the photos are all from the Web), and I misspelling most of the artists’ names in my cursory notes.  Couldn’t have done it without Russ’ help; he knows the artists better than I do.  (When I was working on MART he even wrote the curator at the museum and got an immediate response with the artist’s name, Luca Pozzi, who took a photo of an old master with a tossed orange.)

Saturday morning, June 15, 2013

venice 269Boat to Fondazione Prada’s Ca’ Corner della Regina, an historic palazzo on the Grand Canal, for the exhibition When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013.

The original show in Switzerland was curated by Harald Szeemann at the Bern Kunsthalle(art exposition hall) in 1969.

Swiss curator Harald Szeemann had sparked outrage throughout Bern.  Artists in tractors deposited piles of manure in front of the Kunsthalle, while indoors, Richard Serra splashed molten lead onto a wall. [My note says 200K ??? molten lead not allowed at the palazzo hence photo + dots.] But the real scandal of the exhibition was not this type of action – it was the new form of artistic process it embraced and its monumental claim to freedom.1

The Venice 2013 version has been curated by Germano Celant with German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand and Dutch architect Rem Koolhas.  (Side note: The Fondazione Prada is working with Rem Koolhaas on an exhibit space in an industrial complex in Milan to explore the relationship between art, contemporary architecture and the recovery of an industrial area of historical importance. It should be inaugurated this year.  I gather some of this art shall be in a permanent collection there.)

To present, today, an exhibition from 1969… has posed a series of questions on the complexity and very meaning of the project, which has developed through a profound debate from various perspectives: the artistic, the architectural and the curatorial… it has been decided to graft the exhibition in its totality—walls, floors, installations and art objects, including their relative positions—onto the historical architectural and environmental structure of Ca’ Corner della Regina, thereby inserting—on a full-size scale—the modern rooms of the Kunsthalle, delimited by white wall prada11surfaces [note the photo showing the white wall board inserted over a column], into the ancient frescoed and decorated halls of the Venetian palazzo.

Fondazione Prada Hosts "When Attitudes Become Form:Bern 1969/Venice 2013" Opening CocktailDuring the May opening event, artist Walter De Maria reenacted his famous artwork Art by Telephone, by calling the phone exhibited in the show. Miuccia Prada was the first person to answer.  (I liked his Lightning Field better!  Both are performance art, but you don’t have to travel to Quemado, New Mexico and stay at one of the cabins, waiting for lightning – you can see photos!)

prada beansJute sacks of coal, corn and peas, Untitled, in corridor, by Jannis Kounellis.  Post-minimal.

Mario Merz’s Water Slips Down (Glass Igloo), and Gilberto Zorio’s  Torches, made from reeds, 4 torches, cement powder, copper clamps.  The prada mario merzprada electric linesreeds are the horizontals near the ceiling, the four torches (which can’t be lit because no fires allowed in this palazzo) are the white verticals hanging down (see detail), cement powder on the floor which I guess represents ashes from the torches?

Giovanni Anselmo’s Torsion, which looks like a mop twisted.

prada Lawrence Weinerprada mopLawrence Weiner’s A 36” x 36” Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall.

Joseph Beuys’ Fat Corner, margarine smeared along wall plus a triangle and square in corner.

prada backpack2Claes prada-Joseph Beuys Fat CornerOlden- burg’s piece, which looks like a canvas back- pack on a hanger, is titled Model (Ghost) Medicine Cabinet, made from plastic, paint, canvas, wood, kapo.  I don’t care for his soft works.

Oldenburg’s works fasten on common motifs of everyday life to act as medium in structural or surface experiments—the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen, the automobile. Oldenburg has … produced his own bathroom with sagging, vinyl potty and sink and medicine chest. He has rendered “soft” automobile parts, pillowy engine blocks big as sides of beef, in kapok-filled canvas.2

prada Alighiero BoettiI love his oversized renditions of ordinary objects, such as Spoonbridge and Cherry, the giant spoon stretching 52 feet across a small pond, and his 17-foot-high Shuttlecock.

Alighiero Boetti’s Me Sunbathing in Turin, 111 pieces of hand-molded concrete, cabbage butterfly.  (This, like the other black-and-white photos, is from the original show.)

prada -Mario Merz, Barry Flanagan, Richard Artschwager, Robert Morris, Bruce Naumanprada Robert Morris FeltTwo Space Rope Sculpture by Barry Flanagan; here one of the two ropes.  On the back wall Felt by Robert Morris was done for the site then destroyed in ‘69; it was recreated for this show.  On the right wall prada Bruce NaumanNeon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals by Bruce Nauman.

prada Giovanni AnselmoGiovanni Anselmo’s “Untitled” (floor, right) with galvanized metal, bricks, water, chalk.  The Wet Cotton Is Thrown at the Glass and Remains There (left, wall) and “Untitled”, with stone, copper wire, electricity, in the corner.

The wooden floor was brought from the Bern exhibition.

prada-Gary B. Kuehn, Eva Hesse, Alan Saret, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Richard TuttleGary B. Kuehn’s Untitled, wood, fiberglass, polyester resin, nails.  The piece with the four sawhorses is another Gary Kuehn piece:  Untitled (Wedge Piece).  Next, this ball of wire is Alan Saret’s Zinc Fire.  (He usually does looser wire confections.)   The Eva Hesse piece is lurking beyond the arch on the left:  it’s her Augment, prada Eva Hesse17 flat sheets of latex coated canvas spread out like playing cards on the floor.

prada Reiner Ruthenbeck, Richard Tuttle and Keith SonnierReiner Ruthenbeck’s Moebel 1 (Furniture 1)made of strips of dark red cloth on a steel wire netting box on stilts, and his prada20Ash heap 3, made of ashes, wire, 92 iron sticks. Above the ash heap, on the wall, Richard Tuttle’s Bow Shaped Light Blue Canvas, and on the wall at the right, Keith Sonnier’s Untitled (Neon and Cloth), a half curve of neon and silk.

prada richard seraRichard Serra’s metal sheets and pipes balanced.  Shovel Plate Prop, a plate and a tube of steel, Close Pin Prop, a pole and a tube of lead, and Sign Board Prop, a plate and a pole of lead with antimony.

prada richard sera splashIn the black-and-white photo, visitors to When Attitudes Become Form, 1969, Kunsthalle Bern , the hanging pieces, the lead corner splash (where the wall and floor meet), and the balanced sculpture to the right all by Richard Serra.  Note that the floor tile has been recreated, of not the molten lead.

Carl Andre’s 36 Copper Square on the floor.

prada Carl Andreprada more blue waterThird floor: Pino Pascali’s Confluences, 22 sheet iron boxes painted with blue anti-rust paint, in two lines, with aniline-colored water.  Two of Marinus Boezem’s Window with wood, glass, clothes (which looked like a pillows and sheets).

These three web sites were helpful.

venice 267Boat to Palazzo Bembo to see Personal Structures.

Roman Opalka (remember him, known for a quixotic project in which he sought to paint every number to infinity?) – three in sequence, one with a dark grey background, one light grey, and one white.

venice 284venice 283Michele Manzini’s chairs, The error and disenchantment.

venice 285venice 286Chinese artist (秦冲) Qin Chong’s birthday, consists of four stacks of paper, each burned differently.

venice 287Yoshitaka Amano (天野 喜孝) is a Japanese artist well known for his illustrations and title logo designs for the Final Fantasy series.  Here his comic book characters are taken to an art high.

venice 289Australian artist Dale Frank’s A petulant tsunami of regrets and broken promises littered her chest drawer (yes, that’s the name of the work!) is a nice abstract with dripped paint.

venice 290venice 291Yoko Ono’s Arising a Call takes up a whole room.  First, there is a video of a mound of bodies burning, and you can hear her screaming.  (This I found difficult to endure.)  Then, in the center of the room, the silicon bodies, piled.

venice 293The walls are covered with testimonials of women who have been abused, with photos of their eyes.  There is a desk so that women may continue to add to the exhibit.

 Women of all ages, from all countries of the world:
You are invited to send a testament of harm done
To you by men, for being a woman.
Write your testament in your own language,
In your own words, and write however openly you wish.
You may sign your first name if you wish,
But do not give your full name.
Send a photograph only of your eyes.

venice 294venice 295The life-sized photographs in Project NEO Omnia Vanitas (All is Vanity), of women in glass boxes wearing Egyptian jewelry, by the artists Vitaliy and Elena Vasilieva, have two themes, aesthetic and beauty.

venice 296venice 297Next there’s Swiss artist Ben Vautier’s Introspection, Truth Art & Sex, many panels with pithy sentences, and a video of him writing on a woman, discussing truth, art and sex in French. I could see why you’d want to look at a naked woman, but I wish he’d put on a shirt!  Then the same mirror in the video on the wall with impossible d’etre un autre > Ben (unable to be another > Ben) and reflected, nom impuissance a m’arreter (name impotence has me stop).

The Fluxus movement… developed its ‘anti-art’, anti-commercial aesthetics under the leadership of George Maciunas… Most of the experimental artists of the period, including Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik, took part in Fluxus events. The movement, which still continues, played an important role in the opening up of definitions of what art can be.  Ben Vautier was described as 100% Fluxman by George Maciunas.

venice 300Australian Aboriginal artist Yhonnie Scarce, Blood on the Wattle, with 292 blown glass yams encased in an acrylic glass coffin.

A lot of my work is inspired by personal experiences and particularly from family stories of what my grandparents went through as well. Looking at those effects of colonization and how it has affected Aboriginal people in Australia. Even though it’s 21st century we’re still having to deal with a lot of issues relating to how the first settlers viewed Aboriginal people when they first came to Australia and that’s to do with the issues of identity, racism, genocide and things like that.

The painting in the black wall by 89-year -old Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda (Sally Gabori).

Sally Gabori…considered the major contemporary Aboriginal artist painting in Australia today. Colour and canvas became the catalyst for the creation of an entirely unique visual language; a way for Sally to explore life, landscape and memory.

German artist Otto Piene’s metal box with strobe, an exploration of light as an artistic and communicative medium.

Did Hirofumi Isoya do this painting, lit from behind?

venice 303venice 302Johannesburg-based artist, Stefanus Rademeyer’s light-box Hexagrid, consists of nested hexagons that create a tessellation similar to that of a honeycomb, one of his Crystalline Variations.

venice 312Mehdi-Georges Lahlou

is a Moroccan-Spanish-French artist who lives and works in Brussels and Paris.  Born in France, the son of a Muslim father and a Catholic mother, is Lahlou grew up as a child with two religions. His work is characterized by a conscious identity but complex relationship and an ambiguous vision of our contemporary religious culture.

I think this sculpture of glass hands and feet on a prayer rug angled towards Mecca is his.  (??)

venice 313Laura Gurton’s painting, which I believe is of the Unknown Species series, reminds me of a mille de fleur glass paperweight.  (My mother-in-law used to collect them.)

venice 314Austrian artist Jakob Gasteiger painted the walls (or canvas laid over the walls?) of his exhibit in black rectangles, letting the paint drip down the walls and across the terrazzo floor.  (For his painting a gypsum board wall covered the window.)

As a post-modern attitude of abstract painting in the late 1980’s it referred to its primary and self-sufficient basics like surface, structure, image carrier, and above all, colour in terms of paint. “Radical Painting” portrays itself.

venice 315Norwegian artist Per Hess has done these very pale pastel paintings.  (Notice the almost ghost stripes.)

Light and colour have preoccupied Hess throughout his career. His palette is limited to variations on the primary colours, and they are subdued, as he draws on white to provide a surface for light to lift and animate his pale hues, which appear almost celestial.

venice 319venice 320venice 321But Sam Jinks, a Melbourne-based artist, was my favorite, his hyper-realistic sculptures of people out of silicon being very close to my favorite, Ron Mueck.

bembo - jinksbembo - jinks2

The process to produce most of these works is very similar. They begin as clay sculptures built up over an armature then they’re molded and cast in silicone. Once the cast is cleaned up I then poke the hairs into it and add a little final colour.

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These metal circles in motion by German artist Heinz Mack.

In 1958 Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the ZERO movement …as a measurable climate the parameters light, structure, vibration, monochromatic are the determinants. Light as a method of design, just the same as brushstrokes and pigments, which adds rhythm to colour blobs and clumps, grooves and waves, nails and reflectors, cracks and diagonals. Structure as a conqueror of compositional hierarchies, as a possibility for interference and regularity beyond pure representation. Vibration as a result of a meeting between light and structure, as dynamisation of the picture and as movement which becomes whole in the eye of the beholder. Monochromatic as prerequisite for the purest, unclouded articulation of light, with a range from meditative sensation and vibration space up to radical colourless neutrality.

venice 324
venice 323South Korean artist Suh Jeong Min’s Memories of Freedom Cries.  Here is a detail from the huge triptych.  (M. met him at Art Basel in Miami, acted like she could actually afford one of his pieces!)

Suh builds up each artwork through an accumulation of discrete units of paper rolled into tubes or overlaid so that they resemble thin blocks of wood. Each one contains so many individual paper scraps compressed together that when they are cut by him their ends resemble the horizontal cross section of the trunk of a cut-down tree with its annual rings. These are affixed to the support by Suh with a rice-based glue in either a fairly ordered way, or more randomly to create specific visual effects. He cuts each piece by hand, eschewing machinery for the intentional imprecision of the personal touch.

The paper Suh uses is called hanji, and is made from the inner bark of Mulberry trees. This paper is usually formed into laminated sheets that are pounded to compact the wood fibers, giving it great resilience and durability.

It is in the unseen core of the paper units that Suh’s artwork generates its unique properties, for each scrap of paper comes from other artists’ discards. Traditional calligraphy and literati ink paintings on paper scrolls are cut up to make the paper units, and so their origin as artworks in their own right is subsumed into Suh work, like individuals gathered into a society. 

venice 326German artist Marc Fromm’s reclining woman in 3D.  I guess he did the sculpture also, as it looks like the bottom painting.

“In order to be able to understand reality and orient oneself within today’s day and age one must know the past,” says Marc Fromm. The origin of ideas and the critical awareness thereof are central ideas in the artist’s work.

So it seems to be a logical consequence that the recurring theme in his work is the adaptation of sculptures and paintings from past epochs. It is not only the art historical background or the temporal context of the respective role model work of art that move the artist to create his new interpretations, it is “the search for depth within the surface,” that guides him in his work. His work is consumed with our attitude towards reality. The observer is constantly confronted with his own perception of this reality.

Furthermore, all of his work adheres to certain mysteriousness. They fascinate, surprise or even embarrass – the ideal prerequisites for a fruitful examination of the work and its origin as well as for “the search for depth within the surface.

venice 327Herr Methorst, from the Netherlands, did this sketch/painting.

In 2009 he started the project StreetViewArt, sitting behind his computer, but traveling around the world with the help of Google Street View and painting what he sees.  In his story, he travels thorough the concepts of time, space and existence, giving his view on art.3

venice 328In a room hung with lightweight fabric, with tranquil music, we saw a video of Chinese artist Zhang Yu painting fingerprints on the screen.

These paintings [of his Fingerprint Series] become a meditative process by repeatedly pressing his right index finger on rice paper with ink. Zhang limits his colors to shades of red, white and black, leaving thousands of overlapping fingerprints that create a unique infinite visual effect. He has created paintings, installations, books and performances with this process, making him a key figure in contemporary experimental ink painting.

venice 329venice 330Chul Hyun Ahn’s light art.  (Are both of these his?)

Chul Hyun Ahn is a member of a group of young light artists. [He] creates meditations on zen notions of the infinite and the void which distinguishes Ahn’s oeuvre from other artists working with light. Ahn’s multiple on-going sculpture series, including Tunnel Series, systematically explore the limitations of space and optics.

As is typical of Ahn’s work, he plays around with LED lights and mirrors creating a vortex effect sending you into infinite space.

A fascinating videoart, GOD, concept by Luce (Edmunds Lūcis), camera and montage, Raitis Vulfs.  A woman makes a real child from clay.  I couldn’t get a good photo, too much light reflection, but this is the video:

venice 332A Melbourne based artist, Selby Ginn’s Omnipresent Incarnate, larger than life.

Selby Ginn’s shift in sculptural practice, to translating unwanted animal product into an abstracted simulation of human form, troubles any simple taxonomy. The multiplicity of this being’s source material — leather waste scraps cut into thousands of squares and woven together — gathers the materia prima into a single form by literally weaving the skin of many into one.4

See also her web site:

venice 336Russian artist Dmitry Sherin’s I Believe in Angels.

…a series of large-scale sculptures, debates the concept of progress and the limits of the human body in the digital age.  Our bodies are synchronized with technology, rendering the physical, animal form obsolete; it cannot keep up. From Leonardo Da Vinci to Felix Baumgartner, we have coveted the ability to fly, and Shorin is similarly seduced by the possibilities of flight. In this new work Shorin has created in his signature voyeur’s gaze a series of human flying machines. Drained of colour and placed in the heavens, Shorin’s airplane girls embody our newfound capabilities. In exploring definitions of beauty and the transcendental power of the feminine, Shorin assigns guardianship to womankind, giving an angel her wings in the most modern sense. Shorin looks to mass media images and revises clichéd ideals in mythical terms, placing the woman at the centre of our evolution as a species. In the assimilation of the industrial and the corporal, Shorin presents to the world a guardian angel for the information age.

venice 340Bulgarian sculptor Plamen Yordanov’s Infinity (?), a brushed stainless steel sculpture from the series “Double Möbius Strip”.  (He presently resides in the US.)

Infinity refers to several distinct concepts, linked to the idea of “without end” – which arise in philosophy, mathematics, and theology. The sculpture is based on the Möbius strip, which is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component.

venice 281




Carole Feuerman’s life-sized swimmer, Monumental Queen, sculpted from bronze and stainless steel.  We will see another swimmer of hers in a few days.

Feuerman is widely recognized for her series of bathers and swimmers, which she began in the late seventies. Rendered with exquisite detail from every eyelash, freckle, and water drop, her figures exude an inner sense of life, peace and sensuality.





These balls in the courtyard – Ivan by Scott Eady.  I found the detail on the internet.

venice 339eady






Scott Eady makes disruptive and troublesome sculpture that confounds expectations of the medium, unsettling the viewing experience through provocation, frustration or rogue humour. The painted bronze sculptures in this exhibition are part of a family of recent ‘blob’ works which have been variously placed, dropped or roped off in galleries or public spaces. These obdurate blobs offer a kind of full stop, a place where sculpture might confront its own histories, its contested place inside and outside gallery walls, and probe that often tense relationship between audiences and the sculptural object.

Eady presents sculpture as prank, often calling on childhood games or tricks. As with other recent sculptures, Ivan has a solid bronze core slathered with thick layers of bright paint. While unsettling those fraught battles over the boundaries between painting and sculpture, here this material subterfuge primarily assists in prank-making. A hand-written ‘Kick Me’ note is stuck onto Ivan’s seemingly soft and gooey surface, setting a trap for anyone willing or gullible enough to take up its invitation.

venice 338Note: we’re checking out all of this modern art on white walls which have been fitted into these palazzos, but the Murano glass chandeliers (ubiquitous) and the frescoed ceilings (ditto) are ignored.  A few people noticed the handrails, however.

venice 282Enough for now.  Next blog will cover the afternoon.


Verona/ Venice, Friday, June 14

July 7, 2013

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Bus from Verona to Venice, then water taxi (this photo just one of many I took along the way) to Hotel Danieli, all original 17th C, rather ornate – gold leaf Corinthian capitals, Murano glass chandeliers, lots of marble, terrazzo floors, brocade seating, stained glass windows, gilded ceilings in squares or various rosettes, frescoes above brocade curtained walls.

hotel danieli8hotel danieli3
Hadn’t gotten our room yet by one pm (check-in at 3 pm) so with six others lunched next door, outside with fans, lovely view of the Grand Canal, but salad caprese + water + service =  €20 = $25!

We were divided into three groups, ten each, for the gondolas and boats.  I lucked out and was with our guide and the tour organizers.  (M named our Group 1 the Borgias).

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Gondola ride to Punta della Dogana museum.  On the way an 11 meter tall blow-up sculpture of a lavender pregnant woman with no arms, Breath by Marc Quinn. (A larger version of the work was paraded in the opening ceremony for London’s 2012 Paralympics.)  It is outside the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which Venice’s patriarchate Don Gianmatteo Caputo is not happy about.

Here is a fascinating story of Lapper’s youth:

venice 216punta-della-dogana1Tadao Ando, one of my favorite architects, created the Punta della Dogana museum  from a former customs house, on  the triangular section of land where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal.  (Left photo from the Web.)  There was another customs house on the land side of Venice.

In the days when Venice was a major commercial center, the Dogana da Mar, the Customs House of Venice, built by Benoni about 1677, controlled access to the [canals and] docks.

The existing structure was restored to its base construction, with centuries of partitions, passageways, and other additions eliminated. The exterior perimeter walls are still in the original red brick, restored to look imperfect and raw.

The 20 glazed water gates, each topped by an arched window, were replaced.

The new galleries follow the arrangement of the original bays. The original wood ceiling beams are restored to perfection, adding occasional skylights to let in daylight. In addition, high semi-circular steel windows let in light and offer framed views of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca island.1

The current show is Prima Materia.
Artist Lizzie Fitch put together this unusual set with which Ryan Trecartin filmed a video, Local Dock, Public Crop, Porch Limit,  soundscape by Ashland Mines.

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It’s a weird experience.  (That yellow material on the ground at the right is sand, made yellow by the lighting.)

Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s hyper-charged, anxiety-inducing, immersive installation Local Dock, Public Crop, Porch Limit… a video with rapidly succeeding images charts the antics of a group of young people, some dressed in drag, as they stumble from party to party or broadcast their most mundane thoughts to a global audience via the internet. Surrounding the video screen is the garden furniture which was used as a prop to film it.

Marlene Dumas does portraits from photos that show her state of mind.  A mother symbol, Mamma Roma, in the scream, a painting of Michelangelo’s Pietà, Homage to Michelangelo, Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.

venice 218venice 223Lyn Foulkes does paintings and collages.  In Deliverance (with Mickey Mouse) she uses real jeans, cotton, a real doll (peeking through the window), real wood.  Invest in Art has a real dollar in the hand.  Then there is Pig, dedicated to Americans.

venice 229venice 225Polish artist Roman Opalka had a lifelong project, to paint all of the numbers from one to infinity.  He started with a dark grey background, but later works have lighter backgrounds.  He died before he got to a white background.  I just took a photo of part of a canvas.  He also took a self-portrait with each four-by-six-foot canvas to show the passage of time.

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Some people were tempted to use Roni Horn’s glass cylinders, Well and Truly as seats.  (Notice the water gate under the window.)

Horn’s Well and Truly consists of ten solid-cast glass parts, each measuring a yard in diameter and half a yard in height.  The ten glass elements are cylinders in shades of blue and pale blue greens. These works bear rough, textured sides that evidence the process of casting used to produce them, and smooth, fire-polished top surfaces that are, from different angles, reflective and seemingly endless in depth.

venice 233altarpieceAlgerian sculptor Adel Abdessemed’s  Décor consists of four life-size figures of Christ, done in razor wire, inspired by the Isenheim Altarpiece, painted in 1512-1516 by German artist, Matthias Grünewald.  (Click on the photo for a detailed view.)  Why four?  One would make it religious, two would represent the Father and Son, three the Trinity, hence four, as décor, or decoration.
venice 235From Shusaku Arakawa’s Bottomless series, Bottomless 3, a diagram of the thought process.

These works typically depicted a square form diminishing in perspective, much like a funnel with an interior mapped by endlessly subdividing grids.  These open-ended structures were intended ‘as visualisations of thought passages, and as such representations of some behaviour or aspect of the thinking field’.

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Loris Greaud’s Does The Angle Between Two Walls Have A Happy Ending?  Four sets of fluorescent lights, on then off, and metal monkey fetuses on the wall and pieces fallen to the floor.  Yeah – this was strange too.

The center of the building, a gallery dubbed the Cube, was left open for meetings, but it now holds an exhibition that has been up for two years; tomorrow is the last day.

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Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi, paints with two brushes held like chopsticks.  His Land so Rich in Beauty No. 2, which takes up a large wall, looks as though the land was on fire.

Zeng uses two brushes held in one hand between different fingers to create his chaotic, wild strokes. Just as with a pair of chopsticks, one brush is held firmly with three fingers while the second one moves freely between two fingers. The first one creates deliberate thought out strokes, the second follows, freely creating whatever lines it wants. The first stroke is like our conscious, controlled thoughts, the second stroke like our wild, uncontrolled emotions allowing Zeng to create an abstract landscape of our inner psychological state.2

Sherrie Levine’s cast Crystal Skulls in wooden cabinets.
venice 239venice 240James Lee Byars, Byars is Elephant.  Could someone please explain it to me?

…the artist’s last piece, which focused on an intriguing ball of camel rope, placed like a fetish in a lush room covered in golden silk.

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The center piece is Kishio Suga’s Gap of the Entrance to the Space, constructed of stone and zinc plate.

Suga is part of the Japanese Mono-ha movement, usually translated as School of Things, the name given to a loosely associated group of artists whose sculptures and installations incorporated basic materials such as rocks, sand, wood, cotton, glass and metal, often in simple arrangements with minimal artistic intervention. More experiential than visual, Mono-ha works tended to demand patience and reflection. Many were also ephemeral.3

The stunning black stones in the back, with their reflective water surfaces, are by Nobuo Sekine.  One of them is also shown below, reflecting Mario Merz’s neon work.

One of the phrases that Mario Merz applied most in his neon works, Se la forma scompare, la sua radice è eternal (If the shape disappears, its root is eternal).

This blue neon aphorism mimics the artist’s own calligraphy.  For Merz neon represented the light of human intelligence, the power of thought, and the inspirational force of ideas. The merging of the signifying medium (neon/thought) and of the spelt out words (title/idea/meaning) into an art object gives this work its peculiar economy, resonance, and, so to speak legibility.4

venice 243venice 247Another member of the Mono-ha group, Koji Enokura, did this beautiful pyramid.

Then we left for Fondazione Emilio Vedova.

The Fondazione refurbished and restored the former studio of Vedova, with the aim of maintaining the artist’s spirit intact in the site. The project is by Atelier Traldi, with the supervision of Renzo Piano.

lichtensteinA Roy Lichtenstein exhibit was installed.

The exhibition consists of 45 works; it ranges from drawings, collages, sketches, wooden maquettes, bronze and a painted fiberglass sculpture.5

No photos were allowed, so here is just an example.  (I had just seen a large exhibition of his work in January at the National Gallery in Washington, so I was acquainted with his sculptures, as well as his paintings.)

Waiting for our water taxi for the short (as a bird flies) distance across the Grand Canal to our hotel.  A dog on the bow of one of the small motor boats going by, a second on the back of a boat – this one chained down.  Birds – sea gulls, blackbirds (crows?)  A nun in modern habit (mid-length skirt) and gym shoes walked by.

Regular water buses and water taxis are on strike today, but we’ve already paid ours, so it’ll show up.  People changing their plans when a €30 ride becomes €100.  (Striking boatmen will work if the remuneration is high enough.)  A few women in our group who had booked a famous restaurant  ($$$$) months ago cancelled due to the cost of getting there and back.

A dozen of us waited for the boat, the rest walked down to the Ponte Accademia.  See map – they went from A to B, our hotel.  In a city of canals, one has to find the bridges.  It took them an hour and a half to get to our hotel!  They were tired and soaked from the humidity.  Glad I didn’t walk with my bad knees.

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Verona, Thursday, June 13

July 6, 2013

Sorprese d’arte del nord

Bus to Rovereto towards the Alps – Austria on the other side.  Bruno said that an American air force base was nestled into the mountains; a grassy flat section slides off for missiles.  But I looked it up and the missiles in Italy and Turkey were removed three months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, in exchange for Russia removing theirs from Cuba.

MART Museum (Modern Art Museum of Trento)

venice 115OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe museum was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta.  (I’ve always respected his SFMOMA, shown here in the second photo.)

The giant letters around the pool in the entry court (see bottom of photo), by Chiara Dynys, spell MEMORIA OBLIO, or memory and oblivion.1

MART is celebrating its tenth anniversary with The Magnificent Obsession, a year-long exhibition.  I am trying to interpret my MART 5notes because we were allowed no photos (hence these are off the internet) and none of the artworks is labeled, so that one contemplates solely the art – hard for one taking notes.

Andrea Malfatti’s Audible Forms, are plaster statues, which look like ancient Roman statues with instruments.  (This is mine – I took it before I was told no photos.)  Michele Spanghero added sound to Malfatti’s work by inserting microphones into the sculptures and amplifying the vibrations.  Kinda weird.

MART - BoccioniA range of colors was used in Umberto Boccioni‘s Nudo di spalle.  (Click on it for a closeup.)

The woman represented in Naked shoulders with the open back is the mother of the Calabrian. The light seems fragmented into a thousand flashes that are made on the woman’s skin through endless filaments of pure color, next to one another in line with the pointillist painting technique combined with Post-Impressionist influences.

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Spanish artist Paco Cao’s exhibit is interesting, in that we see the back of old paintings, in packing boxes, tears repaired, the journey of the painting in stamps and stickers.

A composition of fourteen original works from the MART collection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century paintings has been installed with the painted surface facing the wall. At the same time, on a contiguous wall, the artist has installed high quality photographic reproductions of each painting mirroring the composition of the original works.

MART - Isgro_EmilioIn the Avant Garde/ Futurists room there is a group of six children, around age eight, making “books” on the floor with a bearded instructor.  A local artist?

Italian artist Emilio Isgrò copies text and then block out significant sections of it.

 I delete words to safeguard them; it is a gesture of salvation.

Fascist architecture.   Who did all of those marvelous wooden maquettes of Mussolini’s public buildings work after the bombing of WWI?

Then a model of Casa Malaparte in Capri by architect Adalberto Libera, which is a feature of Jean-Luc Godard’s movie Contempt with Brigitte Bardot, a clip of which was showing.

MART - de chiricoMART - godard'sOnto Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings, one of which is Piazza (Souvenir d’Italie).

MART - RussoloLuigi Russolo’s Intonarumori, his wooden box instruments, were a bit outdated.  (This photo obviously not from The Magnificent Obsession as there is text on the wall.)

The Intonarumori were a family of musical instruments invented in 1913 by Italian futurist painter and musical composer Luigi Russolo. They were acoustic noise generators that permitted to create and control  dynamic and pitch in several different types of noises.

MART - fontanaI rather like Lucio Fontana’s torn canvases.  Don’t remember what colors were in the show, but here’s one example.

In a rage of frustration, Lucio Fontana destroyed a painting by piercing his canvas. From this act of destruction, a new concept of art was formed, which Fontana referred to as Concetti Spaziali, or Spatial Conceptions.

Untitled 1965/71 by Robert Morris born 1931My notes say Morris large metal cubes.  Were they like these?

Then there were sculptures of moon creatures.  I can’t find any photos or the artist’s name.  Anyone?  (And why, when I google Modern Art Museum of Trento sculpture moon creatures 1930’s do I get Woody Allen’s face?)

MART Underdog
I am partial to Liliana Moro’s sculpture, Underdog.

 MART - alighiero boetti
Another tapestry by Aligniero Boetti (embroidered by women in Afghanistan and later Pakistan).

During the 1970s Boetti set up the One Hotel in Kabul with his business partner as a kind of artistic commune, and after 1979 he shifted the production of the map tapestries to Peshawar in Pakistan where many Afghans sought refuge.
The collaboration between Boetti and his embroiderers … raised questions about authorship and authenticity in art which continue to this day with the likes of Damien Hirst and his spot paintings, which are almost exclusively executed by employees.2

In the Land Art movement, Richard Long’s “Trento Ellipse”.  He creates works of the local stone, this made with Trentino’s porphyry, but has also used willow sticks and other wood.

MART - STERLING RUBYMART - trento elipseThen I have a note: Sterling Ruby Stalactite poured polyurethane.  Can’t remember what it looked like.  This?

There was lots more, but we had run out of time and so missed a walk (in the heat – 84°) to Casa Depero, Italy’s only museum dedicated to the Futurist Movement.  (Few of us were disappointed.)  Time for lunch at the Caffé Mart.  (Unfortunately, it was dreadful: a two slices of pork, a slop of barley soup, a splat of polenta, dished up as if we were in the army.  Many of us yearned for salad.  Luckily the only bad meal.)

venice 129venice 126Next a private visit to Museion Bolzana.  A talk by the director, Letizia Ragaglia.  (Had to take a photo of her dress by Liviana Conte, Bologne.)

The German architects KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike won the competition for the bolzano @ nitenew museum.  Letizia did complain about the shutters, however.  They close by computers but some are not working.  At night the windows are to be opaque so that projections may be displayed on them.  This night photo from the Web of the bridges linking the museum to the town over the river.

The show was that of artist Danh Vo, Fabulous Muscles.

When he was four, his family fled the chaos of the post-war Vietnam in a boat built by his father. They were hoping to reach the USA, but instead they were picked up in the Pacific by a Danish cargo vessel.  In Denmark the family became Danish citizens and they have lived there ever since.

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We were not supposed to take photos said the guard, but Letizia said that we could take photos of our group (wink, wink).

We the People, more than twenty fragments of monumental copper invade the fourth floor of the museum. The pieces reproduced life-size parts of the Statue of Liberty [as the original, out of copper, two pennies thick], an icon symbol of America, which is then revived dismembered.

I had read about Vo’s pieces of the Statue of Liberty being displayed around the world.

The objective of Vo’s project is not to erect another statue in its totality but to reconstruct its individual elements and allow them to be dispersed to various museums and art venues across the globe. The scattered fragments remain connected to this universal symbol but emphasize the abstract nature of the concept of freedom.

But I had wondered who actually constructed the pieces.

We were researching sites where the piece could be produced, including sites in China. Another advantage of China was that, in Asia, you still build these colossal Buddhas, and that’s basically made in this old technique of hammering the copper.3

evianLady Liberty was outsourced, as were Boetti’s embroideries.  But in addition to Vo’s huge sculptures, he had “other icons of consumerism”, crushed boxes of Evian and Budweiser with writing in gold leaf plus a letter from a French missionary in Vietnam who was hanged, written inside a box by his father, and a condensed milk wooden box with part of the marble torso of Christ inside (blood mixing with venice 121milk).

Just a comment on the towns of Italy.  Buildings are often faced in stone, not stucco, and sidewalks are lined with roses or other flowers. All charming.

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On to the private collection of Antonio Dalle Nogare.  The house, by German architect Walter Angonese4, a friend from high school, and built by Nogare’s construction company, took three years to finish.  It’s fabulous.  A 21 meter hole in the mountain; the stone was ground up for the exposed aggregate.    Bronze, copper, for sliding doors, walls.  Here is a google translation from the Italian:

The slope marked by the stream that descends from the mountain was dug, then with the rock removed and crumbled – porphyry typical of this part of the Alps – we have created the concrete with which the building was constructed, with the intention to return to the mountain that which had been removed.

The four-story, 2400 square meter (almost 6,000 square feet) house is his home and private museum for contemporary art.  (I’ve seen two conflicting sizes for the house; it seems larger than 6,000 square feet.  That from this article:  Nogare said family collecting is a sickness.  His curator is Luigi Fassi.

tiregormleyA window showing the driveway and the entry sculpture by Anthony Gormley next to a drip of blue paint which puddles on the floor, by William Anasazi.  A hanging tire which blows itself up and then deflates, also by Anasazi, whose only work I can find on the web are pencil drawings.

Into a windowless black padded room for a video of a semicircle of light turning into a circle.  It is part of Anthony McCall’s Line Describing a Cone series.

Over the course of thirty minutes this line of light traces the circumference of the circle as a projection on the far wall while the beam takes the form of a three-dimensional hollow cone

Because the room was full of smoke, the projector projected a growing cone of light.  Curious.  Obviously, the photo does not give the semi-cone justice.  The general comment was Imagine dedicating an entire room to this one film of light.

venice 160venice 158A Richard Long line of stones (not blue, but colored by the lighting) with a Dahn Vo American flag.venice 165Would love to have a Dan Flavin neon.
venice 166A Carl Andre stripe on the floor.

Andre is an American minimalist artist recognized for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures.

venice 167Marvelous windows, set into the “hillside”.

Then upstairs.  Mark Mandes’ table and chair with reams of paper stacked.

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Is this face on a rock by Tony Orsler?  With no video?

venice 173I have written down that Marcello Jori took photos of himself recording water; you look at the photos and with earphones listen to water running combined with classical music, but that’s not at all like the crystal painting he is doing now.  Do I have the wrong artist?  Lots more, but I didn’t get enough artist names.

venice 179Then Nogare’s wife and daughter served us Prosecco and petits-four in the library overlooking the valley.  What a view!  The sliding bookcases were beautifully crafted, with a wet bar hidden behind a hinged section.  The bookcases, floors, stair rails between floors all from the same wood.  The steps leading to the deck were a bit unusual.  (Note the triangular handrail.)

Note: lots of trees, hedges, grape vines, flowers, but nary an animal; one bird, some dogs on leashes.  A few horses in paddock.  No cows, sheep, cats, and definitely no wild animals, not even squirrels, to be seen.

Back to Verona and dinner.  The adventure will continue.


Verona, Wednesday, June 12

July 3, 2013

Immerso nella scena artistica comtemporanea de Verona

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venice 017FaMa Gallery – a solo show by Mat Collishan, English.  (You can click on my photos to see the details.)  Preternatural – photos of burning butterflies (dead before they were set on fire, we were assured), Venal Muse  – photos of wax flowers, looking like previous flowers he had made of animal skin.

…three works from the Venal Muse series, created as a tribute to Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, in which the represented flowers –pitted by scars and sores – appear to be consumed by unstoppable decay that mars their beauty.

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A large photo of a squashed moth, but the photos aren’t great, due to the reflections of the lights on the glass.

Studio la Città (In “our” section of the city everything is immaculate, clean stucco, fresh paint, but in this section, across a bridge, cracked stucco, black mold on the cornice, some sections cleaned. )

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venice 030Jacob Hashimoto, American artist – Foundational Work – tiny bamboo and paper kites, thousands of them.  I wondered if he outsourced, and found this interview with him.  (You can check out the web site for the entire interview, and a photo of him working.)

Tying thousands of knots sounds like a lot of work.

It is, but we do as much as we can in-house.  The kites come in a couple of different varieties.  The ovals and circles are heat-formed, and we don’t actually build those frames here; we use a company in Weifang, China, where dragon kites are traditionally made. For me to make a circular shape from beginning to end by myself takes something like 15 minutes per piece, so it got to the point where I knew we couldn’t do it all ourselves. But I can build a hexagon from a pile of sticks in, maybe, three minutes, so that’s what the guys in the studio are working on now — hexagons, octagons and different square shapes. We can outsource those shapes as well, but then I find I’m not happy with the symmetry, and we end up having to retie many of them.

No matter how much I complain to fabricators, they don’t seem to understand the level of precision I’m after. They don’t take me seriously until I actually sit down in front of them and show them the very specific way I want the knots done, so that the sticks don’t slide. Only then do they see that I know what I’m talking about. I have so much muscle memory from building thousands and thousands of these by myself that I know exactly how I want them made.

We also do all the paper work here, once the frames are done, which is a tremendous effort.  Practically speaking, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that we do so much in-house, but that way we have control over our materials and the guarantee that we’re using the very best quality. For example, we need to know where our acrylic comes from, because it has to be page-neutral and acid-free.

venice 025Also in la Città, Some views of Africa, an exhibition of works by five young African artists.  My photo (sorry about the glare on the glass), of the almost life-sized photo, Hyena Man by Pieter Hugo.  This is just one paragraph of a fascinating article on the Web:

In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation.

 la citta

Then a wall of smaller photos of a South African photographer, Mikhael Subotzky, a few with broken glass.

A selection of the [photos] were finished with a sheet of hardened glass instead of acrylic glass, which allowed Mikhael to smash the glass with a hammer while the fragments stayed in place.

Artericambi – Contemporary Art Research

Didn’t care for the works of Christian Manual Zanon (sorry), but loved Andea Galvani’s photos, which are venice 033surrealistic.  This from her web site:

The Intelligence of Evil project documents a series of actions the artist produced using military grade smoke bombs while working in the mountainous regions of Austria, Switzerland and Italy. [This is a portrait] of the artist’s father, taken on the Val Senales glacier… In these images, the black smoke envelops his body and his disappearance is frozen in time.

Check out the gallery site for Galvani’s car wheels, cat eyes, and horses with balloons.

venice 037Also liked Helen Dowling’s hands, Crinkum, Crackum.

Her work is concerned with the relationship between the physical body, its environment and how it is perceived, recognised and engaged with.

Next our bus drove through the Valpolicella wine growing region to the Byblos Art Hotel – Villa Amistà for lunch.  The landscapes are all picturesque here.

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venice 044The hotel is a classical Venetian style villa, originally built on the foundations of a ruined Roman “casa fort”, featuring a 15th-century façade by Michele Sanmicheli, a Venetian architect of the Mannerist-style.  It was expanded in 1700, and there are frescoes from both eras.  The ruined villa was bought in 1999, its renovation “fearlessly designed by architect Alessandro Mendini”.

But what cost more than the renovations is…

the collection of contemporary art by 39 of the world’s most renowned modern artists. Pieces by Damien Hirst and Arnish Kapoor sit alongside classical Venetian paintings.

venice 047venice 045Love this outdoor sculpture by Marc Quinn.  We had a marvelous lunch with wine, then a tour of the artwork.  My favorite is this man falling off the balcony, Peter Paul, by Maurizio Savini, created in bronze and chewing gum (hence the pink color), which he is known for.

venice 049This tapestry by Aligniero Boetti was embroidered by women at an embroidery school in Kabul.  Click on it to see the detail.   (I left the molding and fireplace in the photo so that you can see how these works are displayed in the baroque villa.)  He is most famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world, Mappa, one of which we shall see in tomorrow at MART.

Reminded me of Tucson Museum of Art’s panel discussion “The Critical Eye: What Curators of Contemporary Art Look For” because one trend mentioned was combining art with craft.

venice 048This sculpture hanging in a staircase, Cromosoma by Enrico Tommaso de Paris, was fascinating.

I also liked Czech sculptor Richard Stipl’s Breathe, you fucker.  In a few days we’ll see works by Australian sculptor Sam Jinks venice 060who also creates hyperrealistic sculptures from silicone.  (Specifically oddities such as a fox’s head on a man’s body and a man hanging by the armpits on pegs.)

Duane Hanson was one of the pioneers of photorealistic sculpture.  But I prefer Mueck (See my blog and Hanson to either Stipl or Jinks.

Duane Hanson used polyester resin and fiberglass to make his tourists, porters, cleaners and security guards.

Ron Mueck flees from normal life-size figures.  He reduces or enlarges them disproportionately, albeit always respecting each and every anatomical detail.  His dead father may be tiny (8 x 40 x 15 inches), but a child may be colossal, like his 16-foot Boy.

Stipl embarked on the hyperrealist modeling of the human body, preferably naked, with materials like wax, resin, and different paint.  He uses small, delicate formats, that could be typical of the fairytale world, although in Stipl’s hands these tales will always be horrific, as if a little box could contain all our private horrors.

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Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg “claymation” video, Bad Eggs, is the kicks!

svelte trio of cooks catch bird, get nekkid and squeeze eggs out for a witches brew of slop-motion color

venice 056And I liked Tony Oursler’s Blue Classic, videos of eyes and a mouth projected on a sculpture.

Blue Classic is two large, vaguely head-shaped, bulbous blobs on which are projected blue faces, disturbingly distorted by the shapes of the ‘screens.’ They move their lips, speaking a meditation nearly inaudible: “Don’t stop. I’ll die…Keep me alive with your eyes…Don’t look away…I’ll die…Don’t stop. Don’t stop…I’ll die. Keep me alive…”

I could go on and on, there were so many great pieces of art.  But let’s stop by the spa and then take off for our next venue.

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On to Tenuta Pule and the Villa Pullè Galtarossa, the studio of Anna Galtarossa and Daniel González.

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In 1567, during the Spanish wars and the Inquisition under Philip II of Spain, Andrea Poullè, Magistrate of Valenciennes, was beheaded – an act generally reserved venice 071only for nobility – for his Calvinist beliefs.  His sons, Giovanni and Nicola, fled to Verona in 1580, bringing with them silk worms and mulberry trees and becoming successful entrepreneurs.

The villa was property of Pullè from the second part of the 1600’s and still has the family crest on the southern face, on the chapel and some cottages.

Are you getting a feel for the antiquity here?  They recently discovered 17C frescoes on one ceiling, sure they’re under the stucco of all of the ceilings.

But their art…  Anna does fabric art.  This huge construction is blurred ‘cause it’s spinning, powered by a cement mixer at the bottom!  Here I am modeling a jacket of hers – all pink puff balls – venice 082venice 079venice 070venice 069in the kitchen.  I like this mask of found objects.

Daniel is known for his sequins.  That Tide box is sequins – click on it to enlarge.  (Remember what I mentioned from the curator discussion – contemporary art fused with craft.)

wilder mann(On one table a copy of French photographer Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage.  Must get it!)

Back to Verona by bus down a road 1½ lanes wide; a woman had to run over wildflowers along the edge to pass us.  Miles and miles of vineyards and some peach orchards.  Half an hour rest and then on to dinner.

venice 094
venice 096Friends of M & C to host our group (29 + Bruno and his wife) for dinner at their home at the top of a hill overlooking the countryside.  Vintners.  Prosecco, cold cuts and bread in the cool evening air.  (The ubiquitous prosciutto + sopressata  + mortadella.)  Our host, Claudio Grazia, (here with his granddaughter) was making paella in an enormous pan in his huge kitchen, but fearing a turn in the weather, we changed our itinerary to the Menegotti  Farm and Winery (Claudio bringing the paella in his car) where we got a
venice 101venice 104tour (shown here the cave – all of the bottles in the center get turned by hand daily) and a spectacular dinner (or so I believe, as I did have about five glasses of their wine – and I was one of the first group to leave, at about 1am!)

Verona, Tuesday, June 11

June 30, 2013

Arriva a Verona

verona wall

Hot day here in Verona: 83°F 94% humidity (feels like 96° according to the nifty Heat Index Calculator I found online.)  Took this photo of the city wall on the way from the airport to the hotel.  The Hotel Accademia, named after the former Accademia dei Filotimi which was founded in 1565 (to revive in the ancient town’s nobility an interest in the disciplines of chivalry), was built in 1797, renovated in 2007 and 2010.

Day to ourselves as our group keeps arriving.  Lunch in the Arena Piazzabra.   This photo of the Arena di Verona from my seat in the café.  It’s still in use!

arena de verona

The building itself was built in the first century AD on a site then beyond the city walls.

arena-di-veronaM & C are coming back here after Venice.  Our guide, Bruno, got them tickets for Aida in the Arena, very difficult.  He said the Germans snatch up the opera tickets a year in advance.  He also said that candles are distributed to the audience and lit after sunset around the arena – a beautiful shower of stars.  (Photo from the Net.)

Trying to distinguish Americans from Italians.  Four obese women sitting in the sun, already sunburned – obvious Americans.  The young couple sitting in front of me smoking – obvious Italians.  (Not that some young Americans don’t smoke, but they usually do it outside a building, in the weather, as our cafes, even outside, don’t allow smoking.)  And groups of people with nametags – obvious tourists.

men's shoesTwenty-five year ago you could say that the Europeans were the ones with T-shirts with no logo, no slogan, just plain color.  No longer true.  Only clue is men’s shoes – the young Italian men are wearing canvas dress shoes, not the clunky gym shoes favored in the US.

This is an upscale neighborhood; many of the shops are American: Tod’s, Ralph Lauren, the Disney store, and Italian ones we think of as American: Benetton, Max Mara.