Italy…briefly 4

Never Enough Venice

Venetian chimney tops, on a meandering route to the uber-contemporary art museum at Punta Della Dogana.

En route, busking, Venetian style.

Beautiful siting for the 15th century former salt storage and Custom House of Venice, Punta Della Dogana, an architectural masterpiece that now showcases contemporary art.  It’s a tough contrast.

The exhibit, In Praise of Doubt, was well titled. Internationally renowned Sculptors included Donald Judd, Sigmar Polke, Bruce Nauman, Maurizio Cattelan, Jeff Koons, and Roni Horn. The astounding and vast interior spaces stand alone and cast a doubtful shadow over the contemporary sculpture, which sometimes seemed like a challenge to the buildings integrity.

Untitled – 2007

This piece is by the New York based Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.  It’s intended, I think, as satire or a joke. Gave me the same feeling I have looking at all taxidermy.  We are accustomed to seeing graphic violation of living creatures, even in death.  Provocative and disturbing.

“Comedians manipulate and make fun of reality,  whereas I actually think that reality is far more provocative than my art.”  Maurizio Cattelan

All – 2007 (photo from the Menil Art Museum, Houston, Texas)

Same artist, with a totally different approach that worked well in context of both the museum and Venice.  There are many glorious marble statues in Venice.  Cattelan’s marble pieces here are like the fallen – a kind of homage to a lost time and art.  Elegiac, poetic and as poignantly beautiful as the space where they lay.

I admire artists that use a variety of materials and approaches in their work.  I recall hearing an art instructors say, after critiquing a piece they liked,  “Good.  Now make 100 more.”  So many artists follow this advice.  They grow adept at perfecting one approach, using the same materials.  Bruce Nauman, like Maurizio Cattlelan, explores many themes, many materials, and, has developed a stunning body of exceptional work.

I sometimes sprint through big sections of art museums.  I did stroll through most of the Punta Della Dogana, enjoying the space and it’s striking contrast to timeless Venice.

Yes, Jeff Koons, I heart Venice and the Punta Della Dogana.

Grand Canal Venice & Sculpture

On the Grand Canal, an opportunity to slip in that overused art world word – juxtaposition.

Grand Canal Venice

Late afternoon sunlight on the walk back to the station.  I have seen many images of Venice and studied it’s art and architecture.  It was the reflected light and sound of Venice that surprised me.  It was intoxicating.

I often thought on my walks through the side streets of Venice of Nicholas Roeg’s 1973 film, Don’t Look Now.  A sexy thriller with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.  It was filmed in winter,  and looked very damp, cold, and beautiful.

In July, Venice was golden warm, washed clean by a rain storm, and was filled with the most beautiful sounds echoing off the streets of water.


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