Three days in Venice

I spent three days in Venice to see the city and visit the 56th art biennale, All the World's Futures.  The residency director arranged for myself and the other artists-in-residence to stay in an apartment in the middle of the city.  This was my third trip to Venice, and by far my favorite.  I had an ambitious schedule of places to see: the art of the Venetian Renaissance in the churches and museums, the biennale and general sightseeing.  In addition to the biennale, I had the good fortune of viewing a special exhibit of Henri Rousseau at Palazzo Ducale.  My friend Crystal, an Australian poet and filmmaker, came along to shoot footage, navigate, and search out the best pastries in the city.  At the end of our first day, we stood on a pier and watched a storm roll in and out over the water.  The skyline completely disappeared at one point.
Day 2:  San Marco's square is so nice in the morning.  Peaceful and mostly empty, save for the pigeons. Wednesday was a little cooler thanks to the rainstorm the night before.  We were among the first in line to go into the church; being surrounded by floor to ceiling Byzantine style mosaics was a truly moving experience.  St. Mark's Basilica is the third building in this exact spot (the first burned down, the second was torn down).  

Palazzo Ducale is host to an exhibition of Henri Rousseau's art, titled Archaic Candor. In collaboration with the Musee D'Orsay, the curators set the artist's paintings (40 in all) alongside works by Kandinsky, Cezanne, Redon & even a portrait by Frida Kahlo.  My favorite room was the Jardin des Plantes, which contained many large paintings including Snake Charmer, Horse Attacked by a Jaguar & Merry Jesters.  Photos weren't permitted inside the exhibition space, so follow the links to learn more about the artist and his work. 

I find it so interesting that the artist never left France, yet created such imaginative worlds of tropical vegetation.  Rousseau painted captivating scenes that reveal something new the longer you spend in front of them.  

Panorama form the balcony at Palazzo Ducale, after leaving the exhibition.  White stone and pink Venetian marble were constructed in the Gothic style for the Doge's palace in Venice.
Next was a visit to the Gallerie dell'Accademia, a collection of artwork spanning the Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque and later 18th century art.  The Renaissance collection is really incredible; they have Giorgione's Tempest and Veronese's Feast in the House of Levi, two works that I focus lectures on in my art history course.  I still can't believe I had the opportunity to see them in person.

Veronese's painting is 18 feet tall and 42 feet long!  

The last destination in Venice was Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, to see Titian's Assumption of the Virgin.  The painting, measuring 22' 1/2" tall and 11' 10" wide, has hung in the same place above the altar for 500 years.  The light pouring through the windows into the space made it appear even more heavenly.  Also in the church was The Pesaro Madonnaon a side altar next to the pyramidal tomb of the great Neoclassical sculptor, Antonio Canova.
 Day 3:  We left Venice at 6 am & caught a train to Rome for a whirlwind visit to Vatican City.  The sunrise coming over Rialto bridge was beautiful.


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