Category: Art & Lifestyle (24)

ENJOY SOME OF VENICE’S BEST MUSEUMS FOR FREE, EVERY FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH
ENJOY SOME OF VENICE’S BEST MUSEUMS FOR FREE, EVERY FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH

Here’s a top tip: all State museums in Italy offer free entrance on the first Sunday of each month. There are six State museums in Venice, so be sure to take advantage of this excellent initiative if you’re here on Easter Sunday (1st April).

Accademia Galleries: The world’s greatest treasure trove of Venetian painting, housed in the former Scuola Grande of Santa Maria della Carità.  Works range from glittering Byzantine altarpieces to Renaissance masterpieces by Bellini and Bassano, as well as sublime views of 18th century Venice by Canaletto and Guardi.

Oriental Art Museum: A vast collection of Oriental art and artefacts, collected by Prince Henry II of Borbone during his travels to Asian between 1887 – 1889.  The museum contains over 30,000 objects including sacred Japanese swords and armour, precious Chinese porcelain and netsuke, Indonesian batik and musical instruments, and much more.

 Giorgio Franchetti Galleries at Ca’ D’Oro: One of the most beautiful palaces in Venice, housing a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and tapestries donated to the State by Baron Giorgio Franchetti in 1916.  Highlights include Titian’s Venus with a Mirror, and Mantegna’s San Sebastiano.  Don’t forget to step out onto loggia for sensational views over the Grand Canal.

ENJOY SOME OF VENICE’S BEST MUSEUMS FOR FREE, EVERY FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH
ENJOY SOME OF VENICE’S BEST MUSEUMS FOR FREE, EVERY FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH

National Marciana Library: One of the largest and most important libraries in Italy, containing one of the greatest holdings of classical texts in the world.  The building was designed by Jacopo Sansovino, and decorated by some of the Veneto’s greatest artists including Tintoretto and Veronese.

Palazzo Grimani: A magnificent Renaissance palace that was originally the residence of Doge Antonio Grimani, designed to showcase his extensive collection of Graeco-Roman antiquities.  Today most of these are on display in the National Archaeological Museum (see below), but the palace’s dazzling frescoed interiors are certainly reason enough to visit.    

National Archaeological Museum: One of Europe’s first public museums dedicated to ancient art, overlooking St Mark’s Square.  Its extraordinary collection boasts a large number of important Roman and Greek sculptures, as well as precious gems, coins, cameos and other antiquities drawn from Egypt, Babylonia and beyond.

“JOHN RUSKIN: THE STONES OF VENICE”  AT THE DOGE’S PALACE
“JOHN RUSKIN: THE STONES OF VENICE”  AT THE DOGE’S PALACE

If you’re coming to Venice over the next few months, be sure to visit the fascinating exhibition that’s recently opened at the Doge’s Palace, focusing on the English painter, writer and art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), and his relationship with the lagoon city.

A central figure in the nineteenth-century international art scene, Ruskin had an intense bond with Venice; he described himself as her “foster-child”, and credited the city for having taught him all he knew about art and architecture.

He first visited at the age of 16, and returned 11 times between 1835 – 1888, dedicating himself to studying, drawing and painting the city’s extraordinary treasury of buildings, which he felt was being so abused and neglected that it would eventually melt into the lagoon “like a lump of sugar in hot tea”.  His most famous literary work, “The Stones of Venice”, was both a detailed treatise on the city’s architecture and a paean to its unique beauty and fragility.

The current exhibition, appropriately housed in the very palace that Ruskin once described as the “Central building of the World”, showcases almost 100 artworks including a wide selection of his exquisite watercolours, drawings, photographs and prints – all of which have been loaned from international collections.  Works on view range from detailed studies of Venice’s buildings and monuments to romantic depictions of the lagoon, as well as atmospheric skyscapes and drawings after Venetian masters such as Veronese and Tintoretto.  Alongside these works, the exhibition also features paintings by artists who had a profound influence on Ruskin, including three magnificent Venetian views by his artistic hero Turner, the “painter of light”, to whom “nature has given a special eye and a savagely beautiful imagination”.

As the exhibition catalogue concludes, “Ruskin’s Venice is a paradigm, a discovery, an obsession; a city ​​that he considered worth loving for its absolute beauty and hating for its decay, in a close relationship between architecture and civil society; Venice to praise and to save.  Ruskin, the “Director of consciences”, as Proust defined him in the obituary published a few days after his death (on 27 January 1900), launched a warning that is still topical today.”

“John Ruskin. The Stones of Venice” is on view at the Doge’s Palace until 10th June 2018.

“JOHN RUSKIN: THE STONES OF VENICE”  AT THE DOGE’S PALACE
“JOHN RUSKIN: THE STONES OF VENICE”  AT THE DOGE’S PALACE
"MARK WALLINGER: ITALIAN LESSONS” AT VICTORIA MIRO VENICE
"MARK WALLINGER: ITALIAN LESSONS” AT VICTORIA MIRO VENICE

If you haven’t yet paid a visit to Victoria Miro Venice, now’s the time to go.  Housed in a 17th century palazzo in the San Marco district, this cutting-edge contemporary art gallery was launched during last year’s Biennale by London-based dealer Victoria Miro – one of the most highly respected figures in the international art world.

The gallery is currently showcasing Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger, whose work Ecce Homo was the first piece to occupy the empty “fourth plinth” in Trafalgar Square in 1999, before being exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2001, when Wallinger was Britain’s representative.

Titled Italian Lessons, the present show includes works that date from 1991 to 2016, reflecting the artist’s life-long engagement with ideas of power, authority, artifice and illusion.  Encompassing autobiography and art history, the Lessons of the exhibition title are manifold, referring to Wallinger’s own education and exposure to the Italian Masters as a young student.  Equally, the Lessons make reference to the cornerstones of art history – such as the development of perspective and trompe-l’oeil techniques – and the shifts in consciousness they have brought about.

Amongst the highlights of the show is Genius of Venice, 1991, inspired by a blockbuster exhibition that took place at London’s Royal Academy from 1983-4, featuring masterpieces by Venetian artists from 16th century. Seven reproductions from the exhibition catalogue are displayed, each pressed between glass and illuminated from behind by a flickering nightlight to reveal the ghostly presence of an image overleaf.  The resulting juxtapositions are uncanny – sacred and profane, young and old age, for example – encouraging the viewer to tease out new interpretations from these ghostly composites.

Another thought-provoking work on view is Ego, 2016, in which Wallinger playfully recreates the almost-touching hands of God and Adam from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.  Featuring two iPhone photographs depicting the hands of the artist, the work recreates the gesture in an act of impersonation whose hubris would be arch, were Wallinger’s Ego not an obvious humble reproduction Blu-Tacked to the wall.

Finally, perhaps the most striking work in the show is I am Innocent, 2010, featuring a life-size, double-sided reproduction of Velazquez’s Pope Innocent X, suspended from the ceiling and set in motion so that it spins continuously, to beguiling optical effect.  As a creative act, this seems highly irreverent and even satirical (the idea of ‘spin’ and its relation to the construction of image seeming to grow with each revolution). Yet this simple animation nonetheless leaves the Pope’s unnerving gaze, along with Velazquez’s genius and Wallinger’s veneration of the original intact.

As the exhibition brochure observes, “Who is Innocent?  Or even innocent?  As a comment on individuality and authority, the work, despite its punning title, deals with concepts that seem infinitely complex.  Which may, in the end, be one of the abiding Lessons of the exhibition, one that offers the viewer the opportunity to view art not in a didactic sense but as a tool to unlock other meanings, to reach their own conclusion.”

“Mark Wallinger. Italian Lessons” is on view at Victoria Miro Venice, Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994, until 10 March 2018.

 In 1880, the Italian writer Pompeo Molmenti wrote “Venice, city of love, who would doubt it! Love affairs and famous lovers, the entire history of Venice is intimately linked to Cupid… Romanticism and eroticism, sacred love or secular love, Cupid reigns supreme here”.  So where better to spend Valentine’s Day this year?  Here are some ideas to inspire the perfect romance-filled day.

Morning:

For a truly magical start to the day, get up early and watch the sun rise over the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge; the echoing streets are empty at this time of the morning, and the city feels timeless and dream-like.

Warm yourselves up with a cappuccino and sweet pastry at Le Café in Campo Santo Stefano, and then head to the extraordinary Scala Contarini del Bovolo – a fairytale spiral staircase crowned with a stunning domed cupola – for sensational views over the rooftops of Venice towards St Mark’s Basilica.  

 Take a short ride on a traghetto (gondola ferry) across the Grand Canal from Sant’Angelo to San Tomà, and wander through the charming alleyways of the Dorsoduro district until you find Ca’ Rezzonicoa lavish palazzo that now houses the museum of 18th century Venice, sumptuously furnished and decorated with paintings by Canaletto, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and other Venetian masters. 

PLAN THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY IN VENICE
View from the top of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Afternoon:

Once you’ve had your fill of culture, amble over to lively Campo Santa Margherita, and settle down for an al fresco lunch outside Osteria alla Bifora – the perfect spot for people-watching in the Spring sunshine.  

Afterwards, head down to San Basilio, and take the vaporetto across to the Giudecca for a couple of hours of serious pampering in the couples’ suite at the luxurious Bauer Palladio Spa

 Then when you’re feeling thoroughly refreshed and relaxed, enjoy a stroll along the Giudecca canal (pausing for a pick-me up Spritz or gelato at one of the many water-front cafes, if you feel like it) before hopping across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore for a late-afternoon visit to Palladio’s magnificent church, complete with soaring bell-tower that offers incredible 360 degree views over the lagoon.

PLAN THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY IN VENICE
Views of San Giorgio Maggiore from San Marco
PLAN THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY IN VENICE
San Giorgio Maggiore

Evening:

As sun starts to set, take the vaporetto back across to the Zattere and walk hand-in-hand along the boulevard, stopping off for an early evening aperitivo at Osteria Al Squero, overlooking the picturesque San Trovaso gondola workshop. 

 If you’re in the mood for entertainment, treat yourselves to a box at the world-famous La Fenice opera house for a performance of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” – or for an even more unusual experience, head to Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto for a Musica a Palazzo performance of the same opera, where each act is performed in a different salon of the historic palace.

Round off your day with a decadent dinner a deux; for sweeping views over Venice and the San Marco bacino, indulge yourselves at the Danieli Terrace Restaurant, where the chef’s sensory six-course Valentine’s Eve menu is bound to delight.  Alternatively, for a more intimate dining experience, book a table at Al Covoa tiny, atmospheric restaurant in Castello that specializes in the finest Veneto cuisine.  And finally, finish the evening with a night-time stroll through the city’s ancient streets and squares – an unforgettable way to wind down and end the perfect Venetian Valentine’s Day. 

PLAN THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY IN VENICE
The Danieli Terrace Restaurant, where the chef’s sensory six-course Valentine’s Eve menu is bound to delight

When it comes to books about Venice, Italy there are hundreds to choose from, but if you’re looking for inspiration and the story of one of the Grand Canal’s most well known palazzos, then “The Unfinished Palazzo” by Judith Mackrell should certainly be added to your reading list.

Published earlier this year to great acclaim, this absorbing and highly entertaining book reveals the colourful history of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, one of the most iconic buildings on the Grand Canal, through the lives of three of its most eccentric female residents.

The Palazzo Venier die Leoni, on the Grand Canal in Venice, was commissioned in 1750 as a testimony to the power and wealth of the Venier family, the building languished incomplete and decaying until it was acquired and transformed over the course of the twentieth century by each of these remarkable women, who in turn used it as a stage for their unconventional lives.

The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Twentieth Century Venice
The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

The first, Luisa Casati, Marchesa Casati Stampa di Soncino, was a muse and lover of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who was notorious throughout Europe for her legendary belle époque parties.

The second and equally notorious was British socialite Doris Castlerosse, the first wife of Viscount Castlerosse, who hosted film stars and royalty during the interwar years at the Palazzo. Born Jessie Dorris Delevingne in the suburbs of London she is the Aunt of models Poppy and Cara Delevingne.

The third, and perhaps most well known, was New York heiress and art collector Peggy Guggenheim, who transformed the palazzo into not only one of Venice’s most beloved and visited buildings, but one of the greatest museums in the world, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Thoroughly-researched, gloriously gossipy and full of intriguing anecdotal details, this compelling book is bound to appeal to both Venice experts and new-comers alike. We know the perfect spot in which to read it: The Salon Peggy at Palazetto Salute.  With views across the Grand Canal to the Palazzo Venier, what could be better!

The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice’ by Judith Mackrell is published by Thames & Hudson (£19.95)

11 September 2017

This year marks the 750th anniversary of the birth of Giotto – one of the fathers of the Italian Renaissance – and to commemorate the occasion, the Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Cannaregio is hosting a ground-breaking multi-media exhibition that allows visitors to experience his work in an entirely new way.

Magister Giotto at Scuola Grande della Misericordia
Magister Giotto at Scuola Grande della Misericordia

Titled “Magister Giotto”, this highly interactive show uses cutting-edge technology, music and narration to bring Giotto’s world-renowned paintings vividly to life.  Equipped with headphones, visitors are taken on a curated 45 minute journey around the exhibition that features a narrative by Italian actor Luca Zingaretti and a bespoke soundtrack composed by jazz musician Paolo Fresu.

Spanning two floors of the monumental Scuola Grande, the itinerary begins with an introduction to Giotto’s masterpieces such as the Assisi fresco cycle depicting the life of St Francis, and ends with an exploration of the ‘Giotto Mission’ – a 1986 European Space Agency mission that, for the first time in history, intercepted Halley’s Comet which Giotto depicted in his ‘Adoration of the Magi’ in Padua’s Scrovegni Chapel.  Based on rigorous scientific and art historical research, this immersive show really does allow you to get up close and personal with one of art history’s most iconic yet enigmatic figures.

Magister Giotto is on view at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia until 5th November, for more information visit www.giotto-venezia.magister.art or follow the exhibition on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Magister Giotto at Scuola Grande della Misericordia
Magister Giotto at Scuola Grande della Misericordia

Whether you’re a Venice aficionado, or someone who’s still dreaming of your first visit to the lagoon city, this magnificent book is bound to appeal – and quite possibly tempt you to book a flight and accommodation with Venice Prestige now!

'VENETIAN CHIC': The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to La Serenissima Style: September 2017

“When I went to Venice, I discovered that my dream had become – incredibly, but quite simply – my address”.  This observation by the great writer Marcel Proust is just one of the many thought-provoking quotes woven through “Venetian Chic” – a sumptuous new coffee-table book produced by luxury publishing house Assouline, with text by Venetian art connoisseur, interior designer and CEO of Venice’s Bauer Hotel group, Francesca Bortolotto Possati.

Featuring a foreword by legendary British actor Jeremy Irons, the gilt-embossed, silk-bound volume is illustrated with ravishing photographs by renowned photographer Robyn Lea – serving as the ultimate ‘insider’s guide’ to Venetian style and offering a highly exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the city’s ultra-private palazzi, artisan workshops, artist studios, historic buildings and secret gardens.

Venetian Chic would make the perfect companion to your Venetian experience with Venice Prestige. Our experience and expertise combined the sumptuous visuals of the book will ensure your Venetian experience is authentic and inspiring. If you are unable to visit Assouline’s fabulous store here in Venice, or in London, Paris, Rome and the US – you can find it online, here.

GLASSTRESS: BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO THE ANCIENT VENETIAN CRAFT
GLASSTRESS: BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO THE ANCIENT VENETIAN CRAFT

GLASSTRESS

One of our favourite shows in Venice at the moment is “Glasstress” – an ambitious exhibition that explores the endless creative possibilities of glass. Spread across two historic locations – Palazzo Franchetti in Venice and an old furnace in Murano – the exhibition is an initiative of Fondazione Berengo, a foundation that is aiming to breathe new life into the Murano glassblowing industry.

The current exhibition features work by 33 renowned contemporary artists from around the world, including Ai Weiwei, Jan Fabre, Paul McCarthy and Laure Prouvost. With little or no previous experience of working with glass, these artists were invited by Fondazione Berengo to collaborate with expert artisans from Murano, in order to create new works for the show. The resulting sculptures are a highly eclectic and experimental mix of styles and designs, defying the stereotypes usually associated with the ancient craft, and pushing the boundaries of both contemporary art and glass.

If you have time, be sure to head to Murano, where French artist Loris Gréaud has brought an abandoned glass furnace back to life with his beautiful immersive exhibition The Unplayed Notes Factory, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud.

Glasstress 2017 is on view until 26 November 2017. For more information, visit www.glasstress.org

GLASSTRESS: BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO THE ANCIENT VENETIAN CRAFT
VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017

LUXUS: VENICE PAVILION SHOWCASES THE CITY’S FINEST LUXURY BRANDS

If you’re planning to visit the Biennale any time before the end of November, don’t forget to call in to the actual Venice Pavilion – which this year is shining a spotlight on the city’s long-standing tradition of luxury craftsmanship.

For many centuries, Venice was one of the world’s most important centres for the luxury goods trade.  A man-made city that produced no natural resources of its own, it relied on manufacture – and as a key stop on the Silk and Spice Routes, it was renowned around the globe as a place where the finest goods were made and marketed – ranging from velvet to glass, lace, perfume, paintings and beyond As one visitor wrote in 1494“indeed it seems as if the whole world flocks there, and the human beings have concentrated all their force for trading.”

Today Venice continues to uphold its great heritage of high-end artistic craftsmanship, as illustrated by the Venice Pavilion, which is paying homage to some of the city’s most celebrated luxury brands that are still highly sought-after in the 21st Century.  Amongst the brands being showcased in the Pavilion are Nardi jewels, Antonia Sautter couture, Orsoni mosaics, Abate Zanetti glass, The Merchant of Venice perfumes, Rene Caovilla fine footwear and Rubelli Venezia – whose exquisite hand-woven fabrics adorn many of the properties in the Venice Sotheby’s International Realty portfolio. 

VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017
VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017

PLUS: OPEN TABLE LUNCHES AT THE VENICE BIENNALE

This year’s Biennale has been described by the organisers as “a Biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists, about the forms they propose, the questions they ask, the practices they develop and the ways of life they choose.”  To allow the public to discover more about some of the artists involved, the Biennale is hosting bi-weekly “Open Table” events, where artists meet visitors over a casual lunch to hold a lively conversation about their practice.  If you’re coming to Venice this summer, why not get involved?  Events are held every Friday and Saturday in the Biennale’s Arsenale and Giardini sites – not far from our light and airy Corderie Palazzo in Castello.  Places at the Open Tables can be reserved by emailing booking@labiennale.org, or you can watch the discussions via a live-stream on the Biennale website: www.labiennale.org

VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017

La Biennale di Venezia is on view until 26th November 2017. For more information about the Venice Pavilion, click here 

For more information about Open Table (Tavola Aperta) events, click here 

VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017
VENICE BIENNALE LUXE, RELAXED ARTISTIC LUNCHES: July 2017

Venice may be flooded with contemporary art this summer, but there are also plenty of exhibitions that will appeal to those with more of an interest in Venice’s cultural history and heritage. One such exhibition is Serenissime Trame at Ca’ d’Oro – the Gothic palace on the Grand Canal known as the “House of Gold” due to the fact that its spectacular facade was once covered with spectacular gold leaf

On view until 23rd July, this beautifully-curated exhibition presents a display of rare Oriental carpets drawn from the collections of Romain Zaleski and Giorgio Franchetti – the last owner of Ca’ d’Oro. Alongside the textiles, the exhibition also showcases a number of fine Renaissance paintings that depict examples of these carpets, illustrating their popularity in Europe and especially in Venice during the time of the Serenissima Republic.

THREADS OF HISTORY: RARE ORIENTAL CARPETS FROM THE SILK ROUTE SHOWCASED AT CA’ D’ORO

Originally woven in countries as far afield as Persia, Egypt, India and Anatolia, Oriental carpets travelled to Europe via the legendary Silk Route, ending up in Venice which – for many years – served as the centre of the world’s luxury goods market. Highly prized amongst the Courts of Europe, the carpets frequently appear in paintings of the period – often draped at the foot of a heavenly throne, or displayed in a domestic setting to symbolise the wealth and social status of the painting’s sitter or patron.

THREADS OF HISTORY: RARE ORIENTAL CARPETS FROM THE SILK ROUTE SHOWCASED AT CA’ D’ORO

When visiting the exhibition, be sure to visit Ca’ d’Oro’s astonishing ground-floor courtyard, which is paved with a vast carpet of multi-coloured marbles that echo the exquisite textiles on view in the galleries above.
Insider tip: If you’re in Venice on the first Sunday of any month of the year, you can visit the museum for free – a long with many other State Museums such as the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Archaeological Museum of Venice and Oriental Art Museum at Ca’ Pesaro.

Serenissime Trame is on view at at Ca’ d’Oro until 23rd July 2017. For more information visit www.serenissimetrame.it / www.cadoro.org

PLUS: DONT’S MISS Woven Forms at Palazzo Benzon

At another historic palazzo a little further down the Grand Canal, you’ll find a second exhibition dedicated to the art of carpet design – but this time displaying works produced in the 21st century.

THREADS OF HISTORY: RARE ORIENTAL CARPETS FROM THE SILK ROUTE SHOWCASED AT CA’ D’ORO
THREADS OF HISTORY: RARE ORIENTAL CARPETS FROM THE SILK ROUTE SHOWCASED AT CA’ D’ORO

Curated by the American gallery R and Company in association with Italian carpet company Amini, the exhibition presents a diverse array of stylish, experimental designs from international artists including the Haas Brothers, Thaddeus Wolfe, Renate Müller and Katie Stout.

THREADS OF HISTORY: RARE ORIENTAL CARPETS FROM THE SILK ROUTE SHOWCASED AT CA’ D’ORO

Woven Forms is on view at Palazzo Benzon until 31st July 2017.
For more information visit www.r-and-company.com