L’Arte di Venezia

29 Sep
29 September 2017.
Art museums are not high on my list these days. We’ve seen so many. I could live a long time without ever seeing another Egyptian sarcophagus and contemporary art usually leaves me laughing and perplexed, although we have viewed the magnificent Peggy Guggenheim Collection three times. E basta.

Biennale venue, Giardino.

But when you wander into Venezia in the middle of the Biennale, it only seems fitting to take in the event. In this, our tenth trip to La Serenissima, we unintentionally coincided with a Biennale year. So we went. Luckily we got the senior discount.
The venue at Giardino is lovely. I had no idea there were permanent pavilions. In many cases, the building eclipsed the art. Russia’s site and exhibit were very “1984.” That was our favorite of the paid-for venues.
There were some charming pieces around the city that were for public enjoyment. We did not get to hunt down all of them but saw several we liked.

A small portion of Russia’s monochromatic installation.

Korea’s pavilion. The exterior was the best part.

Super-sized and shiny, this rhino contemplates Venezia across the Laguna.

Coinciding with the Biennale was an exhibit at the contemporary museums Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, a first-ever event where one show completely filled both venues: “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” by Damian Hirst. Three of Hirst’s pieces were visible in Venezia outside of the museums and they were crazy, huge, classical-looking works of art reminiscent of much we have seen throughout Italy. That drew us in. How could this be contemporary art?

One of Hirst’s classical pieces on public display.

It is a big joke. Hirst created a fantasy about a treasure trove of items collected by a freed slave, Cif Amotan II (an anagram*) These are wonderfully displayed, many in a before-and-after manner: encrusted with sea life, barnacles, etc., then polished and gleaming after restoration. The Guardian called it “art for a post-truth world.” Click on any photo for a better view and caption.
Hirst went so far as to stage elaborate underwater photography of the salvage operation of some pieces. All of the curation supported the myth in detail. Only when one read the fine print about the materials used was the gag given away: granite, marble, resin, MDF, gold, silver….
We thought it was brilliant, although many critics were appalled. Hirst has the last laugh as people are pouring in to see it and reportedly many pieces have sold. I hope so: he spent £50 million of his own money and ten years putting the show together. When you are wildly successful, I guess you can take risks.

We stopped on Mazzorbo for lunch at Alla Maddalena. A far cry from Venezia proper.

I have to mention a lovely experience we had away from the crazy crowds. This is one of the reasons people should stay longer in Venezia: to get away from San Marco and enjoy the islands where the Venetian Republic was born.

A short vaporetto ride from Venezia is peaceful Mazzorbo, incorporating a wine resort, Venissa. Might have to contemplate staying here some time.

We often visit the laguna islands, but this time we went to Mazzorbo, specifically for a quiet lunch on a perfect day. While most people head to Burano, we got off one stop early on quiet Mazzorbo. The terrace at Alla Maddalena was full, mostly with people arriving by water taxi. And they were having the taxi wait while they dined! We only heard one other table speaking English. Seemed to be lots of Italians in the know about this place. Prices are reasonable and it was far more charming than the places we usually eat on Burano. No reservation? Plan on eating inside which is where the walk-ins were escorted.

My delightful lunch at Alla Maddalena, a mixed seafood grill. Ric had lovely grilled eel.

It was a bit of art-focused trip, more so than usual for us. Punctuated by terrific meals and of course lots of walking in one of the world’s greatest cities for wearing off pasta.

Joseph Klibansky bronze turtles entitled “Baby we Made it.”

Newest shopping opportunity in Venezia, T Fondaco dei Tedeschi in a 16th-century building. Can you say high end?

Sunrise on the Grand Canal.

*I am a fiction

13 Responses to “L’Arte di Venezia”

  1. Kim Freed September 29, 2017 at 19:19 #

    Oh how I wish I was with you😊


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 21:46 #

      Us too! You would have laughed so hard at some of the Biennale! Remember how much fun we had at that contemporary art museum when we were in Venezia together?


      • Kim Freed September 30, 2017 at 05:42 #

        I do! A truly memorable trip with the best guide ever.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Marcia September 29, 2017 at 11:35 #

    I really like the Rhino display. Very cool. And I agree with you about visiting less traveled islands in Venice. We only had the time to get to Murano and Burano and we really wanted to get to Torcello (I think that’s the name) but didn’t have time. Next time we go, we’ll ask you for guidance on which other islands to visit.


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 12:38 #

      Yes, Torcello is correct. I think I would stay two nights out there just for the silence. And the food! The “wine resort” Venissa looks amazing and reasonably priced.


  3. mvaden1948 September 29, 2017 at 11:17 #

    Huge sigh! Wonderful pictures, food looks fabulous.
    Yes, have that picture printed on canvas. I did that with one of mine years ago….also taken with point and shoot. Guests think it’s a painting.


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 12:37 #

      Thanks Michelle! So many people have raved about that picture and it was such luck that Ric captured it. I only had my phone along and that version looks good, too! Definitely need to enlarge it and mount it a casa.


  4. jonnietootling September 29, 2017 at 10:21 #

    I didn’t know Damien Hirst — modern British artist, apparently among their greats — but in tracking him down I found this exhibit in Venice was widely applauded and panned. Poor artists — there are critics in the woodwork.


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 12:35 #

      Apparently in controversy there is profit! I do not follow the art world closely, but no doubt I will watch for new of Hirst after this.


  5. Lori Veloski September 29, 2017 at 09:40 #

    I’m enjoying following your trip. I’m taking notes of the details. Thanks for sharing! On your last post you mentioned using the gps on your phone to navigate Venice. I’m curious what kind of phone you are using. Did you get a European phone?


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 09:58 #

      Hi Lori. We have unlocked phones so we buy a SIM when we get to Europe. Very inexpensive especially now that roaming is free in the EU. We got 30 days with 12 GB for 20 GBP when we stopped in London. Renewed for 30 days for another 20 GBP. We find buying our own phones is really helpful. Even our US service is a bargain.


  6. graciamc September 29, 2017 at 09:15 #

    Fun info about the modern art. Gorgeous sunrise picture! It’s award winning!


    • Laurel Barton September 29, 2017 at 09:56 #

      How nice of you to say so! Ric took it with a point-and-shoot! We are thinking of having it printed on canvas.

      Liked by 1 person

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