Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 13: Venice

Day 13: Venice

Weather: Low 80s, low humidity, hot in the sun

Quote of the Day: Conceptual art: work such that no one knows what is going on

THB is feeling refreshed, we sleep in past 7, breakfast as always: fruit, pastries, coffees, bacon, and eggs. The last full day in Venice, and we’ve carefully plotted out and optimized our path: Olivetti showroom, Woven Forms (near the Fortuny Museum), cross the Grand Canal, shopping and lunch in Toma, the Russian exhibit near the hotel, and a short hop over to San Giorgio Island for two more exhibits.

Leave around 10, cross the GC, join the mass of humanity heading to Piazza San Marco, edge around to the Negozio Olivetti showroom, pay our $9pp and, for the first time, pay an extra $2.50 to take pictures. The small showroom was redesigned in 1957 by Carlos Scarpa and features ceramic and a few enamel pieces by Ettore Sottsass (oh, and of course a few ancient manual typewriters). It’s sort of like Frank Wright took a shot at the showroom and historically sound ceramics were on display.

 Ettore Sottsass

Ceramic that looks like glass

Obsolete communication device

Scarpa "eye" there's another to the right, the light is too bright to catch it

These are above, THB catches them from below

That’s enough to make us reconsider the plan and add back in a visit to Scarpa redesigned museum, Fondazione Querini Stampalia. It means heading back through the millions awaiting gondola rides in the opposite direction of Toma. We make it to the plaza where Querini is located and then have to ask for help: it’s tucked off in the far corner, and it is another revelation.

An auto locker system that requires a full-time attendant. Maybe it is still in Beta mode?

Our usual check-in karma: one person has to help every visitor use the auto (AUTO!) machine for getting a locker; the cashier is nowhere to be found; and a group of youngsters (we theorize that they are architecture students) are trying to get exact change to make sure everyone ends up paying the same amount. Somehow the cashier extracts herself from stocking the gift shop, shoos the students off to the café to find change, and takes our $11pp entry fee. THB should’ve paid the photo fee, somehow ignores that and gets you, faithful followers, a few pics.

The crowd in front of the cashier, trying to find one euro coins, they seemed to have already checked in

DB is pointing out a compass in the Anselmo piece
Other shows include: Giovanni Anselmo’s granite stones (in Scarpa’s redesigned rooms downstairs); Hadassa Goldvicht’s coverage of Aldo Izzo’s guardianship of Venice’s Jewish cemeteries; Maria Morganti’s treatment of the café’s walls.

Another Anselmo piece

Scarpa has done (his usual?) FLW imitation, lot of squared off lines, continuity throughout the lower floor including the addition of a new bridge.

The redesign is terrific, the garden is very well laid out, features here and there are outstanding (THB wanted to desperately to take home the 25 foot wood sheathe in one of the long, narrow hallways), and for the most part the exhibits are also very good.

DB framed by a "hidden" door

The "front" of the building is on a canal that seeps in

Common? A window looking into the window of the building next door

The best show is an installation by Elisabetta DiMaggio: she’s integrated her new work in amongst the old, traditional decoration/furniture of the permanent collection (this floor was not really redesigned by Scarpa). She’s cut  up various materials with a sharp scalpel and then integrated them with the old stuff: used “fake” ivy (and what looks like real ivy) to drape around settees, new lace to cover walls, soaps, and porcelain. Extremely well done!

DiMaggio work

The Dimaggio "work room" is more like a pantry full of her various pieces installed throughout the floor among the old furniture and paintings


A shot from the video

Bridge built by Scarpa, more "modern" and angular than others around town

Thank goodness THB and DB are flexible and accommodating: combining Neogozio Olivetti and Fondazione Querini Stampalia in one day is astounding.

We decide to scrap lunch in Toma and eat in the museum café outdoor space next to the garden: panini and drinks, $16 (yep, $16!). And, the panini are made with the same bread as we saw as part of the Encyclopedic Pane/Bread installation at the Arsenale).

After lunch, we cross the famous Rialto bridge (thankfully, only moderately crowded), window shopping all the way (lots of jewelry shops, nothing bought) to another installation near Toma: Stephen Chambers at Ca’ Dandolo, an Official Collateral Event. DB likes the work a lot, it is a bit “naïve” for THB.

Rialto Bridge, thankfully not too full of bodies

We've crossed into the land of fewer tourists; in the arcade on the other side of the Rialto THB can take pics at his leisure, in the shade.

New Fornasetti, not vintage

They close for siesta, 1-3

THB gives it a thorough look, decides we don't need to wait til 3

We're on the vaporetto when up comes the other Hirst site...big unimpressive work here too

Vaporetto to Accademie, purchase two more all day passes, $23pp, and cool ourselves with two scoops each of gelati from Nico’s, sitting outside along another huge canal (the one that the cruise ships slide in and out on), $11.

The pigeons are very aggressive after the diners have moved on

A stretch limo

Finally we visit VAC, hosting the Russian installation (not the official Pavilion; that is at Giardini). No photos allowed…Vlad, are you hiding something? The guard roaming the exhibit sure looked and acted like a Russki. Overall, the artists seemed a bit (not a lot) brave to engage with old and new Russia.

Vaporetto to San Giorgio, a small island with a big church. There are 8 installations, we're here to see only two.

Pistoletto is one of the two and we get a shock at the end of his installation (all in the church)

Pistoletto is big on mirrors, THB is not, thinks it is gimmicky

Church, not Pistoletto

the other exhibit is Ettore Sottsass (from Negoizo Olivetti showroom) has a huge show of glass. THB is not all that fond of designer glass, there are a few nice pieces among a tone of his work

One of the other 8 installations, by Pae White

Back to Sottsass

Sottsass when he was young man

Sottsass as an old guy

Pistoletto work, part of four pieces in this installation representing four religions. The Buddha piece appears solo in Voorlinden; THB didn't think much of it there. Here, in text of larger work, it is more appropriate

Dinner tonight was a reco of several: Alla Testiere. It lived up to the advance billing: 22 seats, very agreeable service (not rushed, no long waits), and very good food. We shared gnoechetti with squid ink and tiny squids (and maybe meat, hard to tell) ; the grilled fish platter, every item cooked just right; nectarine tart and chocolate torte for dessert; bottle of still water, a bottle of Pinot Bianco, $185. In and out in exactly 2 hours. A terrific trip-ending meal, easily the most Italian of our meals. 

Tomorrow we're off around 9 via water launch to the Marco Polo airport and, Chuck de Gaulle willing, a flight from Paris to SFO.

The restaurant fills up by 7:30 or so, and at least 3 couples are turned away

Presented whole and then divvied up: each item is perfectly cooked

A car ferry?

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