Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Contemporary Romance, Grand Canal

A bottle of ready-made Bellinis, an oleaginous jazz saxophone (the "Romantic Dinner" playlist from Spotify?) straining a smart phone's built-in speaker and...

at least one wet bottom (see the seat of the paddler's shorts): last night on the Grand Canal.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Worth Looking For: Sala della Musica, Complesso dell' Ospedaletto

The Ospedaletto of the Church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti was famous for the concerts given by its gifted (and highly-trained) female orphans: the centerpiece of the Sala della Musica, painted by Jacopo Guarana and Agostino Mengozzi Colonna in 1777, shows the the god Apollo surrounded by idealized representations of the orphans and one male composer/concertmaster with score in hand, while two patrician ladies look on from behind a trompe l'oeil screen at upper right. (In reality, the orphans themselves performed behind an obscuring screen in a room above the entrance to the sala, directly opposite the scene above.)

Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but not than looking.
                                                                                            --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Unless you're lucky enough to be in Venice when the Sala della Musica, pictured above, is being used as part of the Venice Biennale, you'll have to make a reservation to gain access to it, along with four other worthy destinations packaged as The Hidden Jewels of Venice (Gioielli Nascosti di Venezia). (The famous Scala Contarini del Bovolo is another highlight.)

But the oval sala alone is well worth the effort.

The quotation from Goethe comes from Roberto Calasso's book on Giambattista Tiepolo entitled Tiepolo Pink (first published in Italian in 2006; in English translation in 2009), which I'd also recommend, though perhaps not to those looking for a general introduction to the artist, as it's a bit of a polemic against previous interpretations of Tiepolo's work and as such might possibly be a bit less compelling to those without an interest in art scholarship or unfamiliar with (or uninterested in Googling), for example, the important 20th-century Italian art critic Roberto Longhi.

US edition of Tiepolo Pink, cover
design by Peter Mendelsund
Calasso interprets Tiepolo not, as is typical, the last gasp of the ancien régime, but as the precursor of Baudelaire's modernity, writing that "Tiepolo allowed something to happen that would soon become an insuppressible component of all experience: the transformation of history--and all of the past--into phantasmagoria, material suited equally to providing the scenery for a fairground sideshow or to becoming a haunting image, pure power of the mind."

And if you want to get to know the Giambattista Tiepolo beyond the master colorist, this is the book for you, as it offers an extensive examination (and full reproductions) of the 33 cabalistic etchings which comprise the artist's Capricci and Scherzi di fantasia.