With the collections of contemporary art of François Pinault in Palazzo Grassi and at the Punta della Dogana, as well as the Biennale of Venice, the capital of the Lagoon belongs to the headlight cities of the contemporary art. (I did not mention here the Peggy Guggenheim museum more concerned with Modern art).
But the average tourist who visits Venice once in his life, at best once every five years, does he feel concerned by this plethora of contemporary art? I doubt that he comes to Venice for that type of art.
Venice is by itself a museum in the open air of a value that none exposed contemporary works can equalize. If it rains, what happens more than wanted in Venice where the thundershowers are intense, it is better, in my humble opinion, to take refuge at the Gallery of the Academy to enjoy the admirable paintings of Giovanni Bellini rather than to pay more to see contemporary works. An art critic Eric Rinckhout recently wrote that these were often decorative works, garish aesthetic experiments, "art for money" (I translate here the Dutch term “Poenige kunst” used by the critic).
Over the years I came to think that contemporary art comprises little art and much decoration or eccentricities.
“There is something so different in Venice from any other place in the world, that you leave at once all accustomed habits and everyday sights to enter an enchanted garden.”
— Mary Shelley (1797-1851)
Campo Manin, near Ponte di Rialto, resulted from a 19th-century urban planning scheme. It is named for the 1848 revolutionary, who fought to rid Venice of its Austrian overlords, Daniele Manin. Manin was born in a house (see photo #3) that faces the square; and a monument to him stands at the middle of Campo Manin.
A group of 19th-century, NeoGothic buildings on the north side of the campo are used by the city of Venice. The monstrous bank building, Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia by architects Luigi Nervi and Angelo Scattolin, built in 1964, borders the east side of the square, and dominates by its mediocrity.
“The things of this world reveal their essential absurdity when they are put in the Venetian context. In the unreal realm of the canals, as in a Swiftian Lilliput, the real world, with its contrivances, appears as a vast folly.”
— Mary McCarthy (1912-1989, American author)
In Campo Manin there is the monument to Daniele Manin, the Italian patriot who sought to drive out the Austrians from Italy. Sculpted by Luigi Borro (1826-1880) in 1875, a large bronze winged lion sits at the base of the monument.
The winged lion has been the symbol for Venice, representing St. Mark the Evangelist, the city's Patron Saint, since the remains of Our Saint were taken from a tomb in Alexandria, Egypt and brought to Venice in AD 828. Our Saint’s attribute, the winged lion, was adopted by the city. Depictions of St. Mark’s winged lion can be seen everywhere in Venice. This lion sculpture in Campo Marin is just one of many examples.
“Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls
Are level with the waters, there shall be
A cry of nations o'er thy sunken halls,
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!
If I, a northern wanderer, weep for thee
—from “Ode On Venice” by Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Scala Contarini del Bovolo is hidden in a small courtyard, down a narrow alley, near to Campo Manin. The staircase and the loggia were designed in 1499 by Giovanni Candi for the Contarini family. It is an addition to the existing palazzo.
The loggias connect the various floors with the staircase. In the Venetian dialect, bovolo means snail, describing the spiral design.
In the small yard in front of the palace many defunct, white marble pozzi, the wellheads, sat. The wellheads come from other buildings and are older than the palace, although one shows the Contarini family coat-of-arms; it was likely added when the palace built.
“For today let me say only that I hope to be able to hold out in Venice; this town is exceedingly interesting, and the actual stillness—one never hears a carriage—is indispensable for me.”
— from a letter, dated 1.September.1858, written by Richard Wagner (1813-1883) to his first wife, Minna
THE QUIET SCENE Wagner died in Venice, quietly it is hoped. One of the stillest parts of Venice that we visited was a blind alley where we saw the extraordinarily elegant Scala Contarini del Bovolo. This external spiral staircase is a beautiful architectural curiosity, which merits a visit.
The style of the staircase illustrates the architectural transition from Venetian Gothic to Renaissance. The Venetian dialect word bovolo means snail, a reference to the spiral design of the staircase.
Normally opened to visitors, with grand views of the city, Scala Contarini del Bovolo was closed for restoration.
The gardens of the Biennale, the International Art Exhibition first held in 1895, are the set of several pavilions built in various periods by the exhibiting countries. A number of these are of remarkable architectural interest, by important architects such as Hoffman, Rietveld, Aalto and Scarpa. Thus we have an interesting and varied group of buildings designed for an identical purpose.
It should be noticed that the Biennale pavilions are an isolated group of buildings which have no connection with the urban scene of Venice. In Louis Kahn’s project for the Conference building and the new Italian pavilion, presented in 1969 in Venice, for the first time the architecture of the Biennale was conceived as part of the city with its canal and lagoon.
The Pavilions of Austria, Finland, Holland and Venezuela are here illustrated as, perhaps, the most significant from an architectural point of view. To these the following can be added, all built since the war: Israel, by Richter (1952), Switzerland, by B. Giacometti (1952), Japan by Y.Takamasa (1956), Canada by Belgioioso, Peressuti, Rogers (1958), Scandinavian Countries, by S.Fehn (1962), Brasil by N.Marchesini (1964).
Carlo Scarpa ‘s collaboration with the Biennale from 1948 onwards has been almost continuous, both in setting out of one-man-shows (that by Klee in 1948 was memorable) and in the alterations made from time to time in the Italian pavilion and elsewhere. Of these alterations the Ticket Office and gates, and the interior courtyard (1952) still remain. In the Gardens Carlo Scarpa has designed two isolated buildings, the Art Book Pavilion and the Venezuela Pavilion. The Art Book Pavilion (1950) was recently burned down while the Venezuela Pavilion (1954) is one of the finest and most original of Scarpa’s works, it was unfortunately tampered. As a result Scarpa’s harmonious spatial sequence round the portico and the two halls of different heights are now hardly recognisable.
The pavilion of Austria by J.Hoffmann (1934) was one of the last works by Joseph Hoffmann, the master of the Viennese Secession (1870-1956): in its unobtrusiveness can be seen the elegance typical of Hoffmann. It exemplifies three very different, almost contradictory aspects: that of the Secession in the typically corrugated surfaces, contrasting with the glazed opening above; the classical aspect in the symmetrical plan, the square doorway and the elegant arches of the entrance hall; the rationalist aspect can be seen in its clear plan, the spatial purity of the interiors and the rectangular form facing the canal.
The pavilion of Holland was built by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld in 1954. Rietveld was the architect of “De Stijl” movement. This building lacks the formal neo-plastic freedom of his famous Utrecht villa, but it is designed on rigorous geometrical relationship, based on the cube: 16 x 16 in plan, 16 x 8 the façade, etc. The geometrical rigour is redeemed by the turbine plan, with the side parts on varying levels which gives a dynamic quality to the structure. The central area, lower than the rest, allows indirect lighting which, for an exhibition pavilion, is very functional.
The pavilion of Finland was designed by Alvar Aalto, prefabricated in Finland and assembled in Venice in 1956. A timber structure easily dismantled because it was intended for one exhibition only, the building is in the form of a trapeze. The walls of vertical panels are sustained by the three triangular struts with apex downwards. The roof and the lightning are ingenious: a double screened skylight gives light to the side walls leaving the central area of the pavilion in the half light. Although designed as a temporary structure in its building technique and details (e.g. door-handles) it exemplifies first-class architecture.
This is a quite interesting initiative from the Musei Civici Veneziani association.
With one single ticket you can visit:
1° THE MUSEUMS OF ST MARK'S SQUARE: Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Monumental Rooms of Biblioteca Marciana
2° ONE OTHER OF THE MUSEUMS RUN BY MUSEI CIVICI VENEZIANI from among:
Ca' Rezzonico, Museum of 18th-Century Art, Palazzo Mocenigo, Carlo Goldoni's house, Ca' Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art + Oriental Art Museum, Glass Museum – Murano, Lace Museum- Burano (Closed until October 2010 for requalification and restoration works)
This Ticket is valid for 3 months and grants only one admission to each Museum.
Full price 13,00 euro (from 1/11 - 31/03 price is 12,00 €)
Reduced 7,50 euro. This is for children aged 6 to 14; students aged 15 to 25, citizens over 65.
Best is to start your visit with Museo Correr (west of Piazza San Marco) where there is no queuing and then visit the Palazzo Ducale by the entrance for those who have already a ticket-biglietto.
From the other museums I do recommend the Ca' Rezzonico (Decorative Venetian Arts).
Just note, for those visiting Venice when it is very hot, that there is no air conditioning (at least efficient AC) in Museo Correr or Palazzo Ducale.
There is efficient AC at Ca' Rezzonico (as it was about 40°C outside, we did appreciate).
On the right side of the Church of S.Salvador you can see the nice building of the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro (School of St.Theodore). It was settled in 1258 and it is located in the nowdays palace since 1551. The internal stairs were built at the beginning of 17th century and the marble facade was made by Giuseppe Sardi in 1655.
The palace was restored in 1960 and nowadays it is used for cultural events.
I nominate Angel of the City for the worst sculpture ever created.
I have seen thousands of sculptures but none more ridiculous than
this. Please, melt it down. Spare us the agony of having to look at it,
even momentarily as we pass the museum. It is a sad, bad joke.
Founded in 1750 as school of painting, sculpture and architecture.
Renamed then in Accademia Reale di Belle Arti in 1807 by Napoleonic forces.
The building dates back in 1343, but the scuola was founded in 1260.
After visiting The palace of the Doji, also visit some other museums - your ticket allows you to see them for free. These are:
1. EACH OF THESE: The Correr museum, The Archeological museum, Marchiana Library - all three situated in the so called "procuras" at San Marco square. Entrance is from the Correr museum /just opposite Basilica di San Marco/ , then you pass through the Archeological museum and reach the Library.
2. ONE OF THESE: Ca’Rezzonico, Palazzo Mocenigo, Carlo Goldoni's house, Ca’ Pesaro, Museum of Glass /Murano island/, Museum of Lace /Burano island/.
Pay attention to the date marked at the ticket, you may be surprised that you can visit the museums mentioned during the next three months. The expiry date is useful thing!
No visit to Venice would be complete without a visit to the Accademia. Paintings by some of the greatest artistis the World has ever known. Titian. Tintoretto, Bellini and Carpacio's works are on display. Take a couple of hours out of your day and come here. You will not be disappointed.
You can just pop into any museum and enjoy the creativity of its people. I could not take any pictures in the place but the displays were really cool. The artists could make even bus tickets and gum wrappers looked like an art piece. There are many more interesting ones but I did not have the time to enjoy them.
The fantastic school, located near the Church of S. Giovanni e Paolo, was founded in the 1260, and went to the odiern position in 1437.
In 1485 a fire destroied the Shcool and the rebuilt School was immeditely decided. Author of the reconstruction was Pietro Lombardo whom used an original project based on the use of friezes, columns splitting, prospectical game with insertion of windows and polichrome marbles. Mauro Codussi built the internal stairs and the upper part of the facade at the death of Lombardo. The stairs was destroied in the 1819, when was decided to transform the building in the main Hospital of Venice, function kept nowadays.
Embellished works took place during the years but the main attraction of this School were the paintings that many famous artists gave as a present to commemorate San Marco: Bellini, Tintoretto and Palma il Vecchio.
The Ateneo Veneto is an institution for the promulgation of science, literature, art and culture. The Ateneo Veneto was formed on 12 January 1812, by decree of Napoleon I on 25th December 1810.
Originally the building hosted the Scuola di Santa Maria e di San Girolamo. During the 16th century a number of great architects, painters and sculptors of the Baroque and Mannerist schools embarked upon a major reconstruction of the Scuola; by the beginning of the 17th century the building was more or less as one sees it now. The church on the ground-floor is now the conference-hall. On the top floor is the library which contains around 40,000 volumes, some of them of inestimable historic and artistic value. The art-collection, with works by Tintoretto, Veronese, Palma il Giovane, Zanchi, Fontebasso, Longhi and Vittoria, is very interesting and beautiful.