Art Archives

November 14, 2007

Titian's Assunta in the Frari

Titian's AssuntaTitian’s Assumption of the Virgin (the Assunta) is arguably the greatest Venetian painting in the world.* We’re lucky that we can see it in the church for which Titian painted it almost 500 years ago.

Born in the Dolomites, Tiziano Vecellio was sent to Venice to study art when he was 10 years old. He first studied in a mosaic workshop, then apprenticed to the Bellini family, and later studied and worked with Giorgione. Titian was still very young (in his 20’s) when he was commissioned to paint the Assunta for Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice’s enormous Franciscan church. It was a prestigious commission for any artist, especially a young one, but Titian wasn’t really in the position where he was still trying to prove himself. Bellini and Giorgione had both recently died, so Titian must have known that he was the greatest living artist in town and perhaps this gave him the confidence to do a painting unlike any ever done before.

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December 17, 2007

Angel with porcupines

Angel of Benediction in Castello

One of the things that makes Venice so magical for me are all of the “right place, right time” and “kindness of strangers” experiences I have when I’m there.

I spent the first three days of my trip roaming around Castello, a sestiere I’d spent little time in on previous trips. I'd read about this Angel of Benediction sculpture and managed to find it with only a normal amount of difficulty (in other words, I was very lost and then all of a sudden, I saw the angel!). It’s in a residential area north of the Arsenale on a calle that’s named for it.

So I was standing there looking at it, and an elderly Venetian gentleman came along. He began talking to me and when I told him that I was American, he switched to excellent English.

angel“I’m glad you found our angel,” he said, and proceeded to tell me the story. The Venetians stole the angel from Anatolia in Eastern Turkey, he said, and a family named Rizzo put in on the archway above the entrance to a sotoportego, along with the reliefs on either side. They don’t show up well in my photos, but the reliefs are porcupines (or maybe hedgehogs?), which was the insignia of this family. The man showed me the family’s palazzo which is one of the oldest in Venice (13th c.) and told me that the way to identify the oldest buildings is to look at the chimneys (the round ones are older than the more common tulip-shaped ones).

The man also told me that when Napoleon conquered the Venetian Republic and began taking art away, many Venetians began hiding their art, and the Rizzo family bricked up their porcupines. Then the family left or forgot, and the porcupines weren’t unearthed until about a hundred years later when some repair work was done on the sotoportego. He told me that there’s probably other street art in Venice that’s bricked over and hasn’t been re-discovered yet. I love the thought of that!

I spent a very pleasant 10 minutes or so with this very nice man who took the time to give me a little tour of his neighborhood. You can’t plan stuff like this, you can only be grateful when it happens.

Angel with porcupines

porcupine detail

Porcupine or hedgehog?

The World Heritage website has an article about the 1999 restoration of this angel.

February 2, 2008

Fantasy Art Game

A recent Daily Telegraph article listed the writer’s choices for the 30 Best Things in Italy. Three of them are in Venice, and two of those three are church-related: Santa Maria dei Miracoli (the church as a whole) and the Bellini altarpiece in the Frari. The third thing is “Venice at midnight.” All great things, for sure, though I’d have a tough time narrowing my Best of Venice list down to only three.

The writer also offers an interesting fantasy game:

“It's an idle game, but one I'm often tempted to play in Italian churches: if you could walk off with one painting, which would it be? It's a tough one, especially in Venice, where you're not exactly short of options.”

Hmm. This IS a tough one. There are a few paintings that I really love but I’d feel horribly guilty about taking, just because they belong in Venice and nowhere else. The Madonna Nicopeia in Basilica di San Marco; Titian’s Assunta in the Frari; any of the Bellini altarpieces…as much as I love these, I’d have to leave them where they are.

I’d probably choose Vincenzo Catena’s Vision of Santa Christina in Santa Maria Mater Domini. Or perhaps Carpaccio’s St. George and the Dragon in San Giorgio Maggiore (since there’s another one of the same subject in San Giorgio degli Schiavoni).

Or Titian’s Annunciation in San Salvador. Or the Negroponte Madonna and Child Enthroned in San Francesco della Vigna. It’s a hard choice!

Anyone else want to play? You don’t have to limit yourself to Venice. What painting in any Italian church would you bring home?

February 28, 2008

Southern Folk Art Show

We went to a big Southern folk art show last weekend and saw so much amazing and inspirational art. The best part was that all the artists were there too, and you could meet them and buy art directly from them.

I love art shows and will go look at anything, but these days there seems to be a lot of cynical and depressing modern art out there. Folk art is just the opposite – it’s innocent and much of it is hopeful and uplifting. Some of it is hilarious, and the sad works are poignant and moving rather than depressing.

Another name for folk art is “outsider” art – I’m not crazy about that term since it sounds kind of snobby. Self-taught or visionary art are better labels. One of my favorite museums in the world is the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore; it’s a branch of the Smithsonian that focuses on artists with vision and talent and inspiration, but no formal art training.

The Southern show had so much beautiful and/or funky art that I wanted to buy. I walked around the whole show twice trying to decide what I loved the most, and I ended up buying two paintings from an artist named Eric Legge.

And of course, one of them is a church! Not a church in Venice – this looks more like a church in the mountains of NC where I grew up. It’s beautiful. I’d never seen any work by Eric before; he’s a very nice young man and I really enjoyed meeting him. So when I got home I googled and found an interview with him with this incredibly wise quote:

“I don’t paint to sell. I sell so that I can paint.”


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February 29, 2008

More from the folk art show


This nice pink animal was made by Clyde Jones, one of North Carolina’s most well-known folk artists. He calls his sculptures “critters,” and his home, Critter Crossing, is listed on Roadside America: Guide to Off-Beat Tourist Attractions. You can see his critters all over this area, in restaurants and in other people’s yards. I like his work a lot.

A few years ago, Clyde had a show at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, and there were about 50 of his critters in the woods behind the museum. I took my nephew (who was about 3 years old at the time) and we had a blast – it was completely magical to hike through the woods and see all these crazy colorful animals spread out over several acres of forest.

Clyde is a character and is known for being quirky about selling his art. Sometimes he will, mostly he won’t, and sometimes he just gives it away, especially to children. The most famous story is when he refused to sell a piece to Mikhail Baryshnikov who was in the area for a performance and went out to Clyde’s house to see the art. Clyde does lots of presentations in local schools and at the art show last weekend, he was in his booth surrounded by a bunch of happy kids. More photos below.

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April 21, 2008

Paolo Veneziano in the Frari


This painting by Paolo Veneziano is in the Chapter Hall of the Frari. From the main sanctuary, walk through the Sacristy (where the great Bellini altarpiece is) and into this Hall which has windows overlooking the former monastery’s cloisters. The painting is over the funeral monument for Doge Francesco Dandolo and shows the Doge and his wife being presented to the Virgin and Child by Saints Francis and Elizabeth. The Christ Child’s hand is raised, blessing the Doge. Painted in 1339, this is probably the first portrait of a Doge that was painted from real life and also might be the oldest painting in Venice that remains “in situ” (in the place for which the artist painted it).

Paolo Veneziano (Paul the Venetian) isn’t the first Venetian artist but he’s the first with a name and a recognizable style. Before him, there were a number of anonymous artists making mosaics, and painting frescoes and icons. He lived from 1290-1362 and was a contemporary of the Tuscan artist Giotto who revolutionized painting a few miles away in Padua.

Paolo’s paintings are colorful with lots of gold and brocade and show elements of both the older Byzantine and the emerging Gothic styles. He was one of the first artists in Venice to paint on panel and make altarpieces and polyptychs instead of painting frescoes right on the church walls. He painted lots of "Madonna and Childs" and "Virgins Enthroneds" as well as crucifixions on panels in the shape of a cross.

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May 27, 2008

St. Luke, patron saint of artists

nikopeiaSt. Luke (San Luca) is the patron saint of artists because supposedly he was a painter himself. Legend has it that he painted a portrait of Mary from life, with her actually sitting there, making it the equivalent of a photograph, I guess. Some versions of the legend say that he did the painting on a wooden table top that Joseph and Jesus had made. The story goes that Mary infused the painting with her blessings and grace, turning it into a miracle-working icon that would carry her power across the centuries.

Now I’m not sure if Luke did one painting of her or many, but there are churches all over the globe that claim to have a St. Luke painting of the Madonna, and these images have been revered for hundreds of years with lots of stories about miracles, healings, and deliverance from wars and disease. In the Middle Ages, people made pilgrimages to visit these paintings which were just as venerated as the relics of any saint.

Well, Venice has not one but three icons that were supposedly painted by St. Luke. One is the Madonna Nikopeia in the Basilica di San Marco (that’s her in the photo above), the second is the Madonna de Pace icon in San Zanipolo, and the third is the Virgin Mesopanditissa icon on the high altar of Santa Maria della Salute.

These icons were legendary before they were brought to Venice (and actually, that’s why the Venetians stole them). The Nikopeia was brought to Venice from Constantinople in 1204 as part of the spoils from the Fourth Crusade; she quickly became the most revered image in the city and she still is today. It's interesting that most of the Masses celebrated in the Basilica are held in her chapel rather than in front of the high altar where San Marco lies.

The San Zanipolo icon came from Constantinople in 1349 about one hundred and fifty years after the Nikopeia. The Salute icon was brought from a church in Crete in the late 1600’s shortly after the church was completed. Crete was a Venetian territory at that time so technically I suppose they didn’t really steal that one, but they were on the verge of losing Crete to the Turks (and Venice had a beautiful new church that needed a Madonna icon).

All three of these icons are very interesting but in truth, they don’t look like they were done by the same artist, and Mary looks quite different in each of them. Plus most historians estimate that they are closer to 1000 years old rather than the 2000 they would be if they were really painted by Luke. But it's a nice legend, and it seems that in the Middle Ages, if you had a miracle-working icon of the Madonna, you should be worried that the Venetians were going to steal it from you. :)

Other places that claim to have a St. Luke Madonna include churches in Rome, Bologna, Germany, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and India. There’s also one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The most famous is probably the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in Poland. The only one of the Venetian icons that is a Black Madonna is the one in the Salute (photo below isn't great since I didn't use a flash but you can kinda tell what she looks like).

Icon Salute

August 7, 2008

The Three Kings


Earlier this summer, Maria I posted some beautiful photos of El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) in Puerto Rico. I told her that I’d spent one day in Old San Juan many years ago when I was on a cruise that stopped there. I fell in love with the place, and I’ve always intended to go back some day. I also told Maria about two lithographs I bought in Old San Juan - the subject matter of both of them is The Three Kings (aka the Three Wise Men).

Maria said, “The Three Kings are iconic in Puerto Rico. It's part of our cultural heritage and January 6 is a big holiday on the island.” So I took some photos so I could show her my art from Old San Juan.

A quick Google search turned up some cool info about “Dia de los Reyes” or Three King’s Day. In Puerto Rico, it’s the Three Kings who bring gifts to the children and the gifts don’t come on Christmas Day, they come on January 6 which is around the time that the Kings arrived in Bethlehem. This day is also known as Epiphany.

On January 5, children in Puerto Rico put out grass for the Kings’ camels instead of putting out cookies for Santa (I love that!).

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September 2, 2008

Sister Wendy

The experiential test of whether this art is great or good, or minor or abysmal, is the effect it has on your own sense of the world and of yourself. Great art changes you. – Sister Wendy Beckett

Story of PaintingThe inspiration for this blog entry came from a discussion in the comments over at SandraC’s blog that made me want to introduce Sister Wendy to anyone who hasn't "met" her yet! “Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting” is a BBC series that I watched on PBS when it was first shown in the 1990’s and then I bought the videotapes so I could watch it again and again. It's such an awesome series. Sister Wendy is one of my heroes because she talks about art from her heart and from the perspective of the bigger picture (why art is important, how art can enrich our lives). She's such a fascinating woman and a great teacher.

But what an unlikely TV personality she is! Sister Wendy lives a “contemplative life” of complete seclusion and prayer in a little trailer on the grounds of a monastery in the U.K. She became a nun at age 16, went to university and taught for a while, and then in 1970 at age 40, she went into seclusion. A contemplative life includes two hours of work a day, and Sister Wendy’s work for several decades was studying art on her own. She published a few articles and somehow was discovered by the BBC who took her on the road all over Europe (and later, America) to make these wonderful shows.

She’s an amazingly free thinker (for a nun!), a great storyteller, and she can be very funny and surprising. One thing that makes the series so powerful, I think, is the fact that she’s such an art lover and when they were filming her, she was seeing many of her favorite paintings for the first time in person, and you can tell that she’s very moved at times.

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September 19, 2008

PhotoHunt: Road


This week's theme is "road."

These are photos from a road trip I took to a charming Roadside Attraction in Prospect Hill, NC.

This miniature stone village was built by North Carolina farmer Henry L. Warren (1883-1978) with help from his neighbor Junius Pennix. The village consists of 27 small buildings that include a church, a hospital, a hotel, and a mill with a waterwheel. Mr. Warren named his little village Shangri-la.

Mr. Warren began building Shangri-la in 1968 when he was 75 years old and worked on it for the next nine years until he died at age 84. The village is made of white quartz and other stone that Mr. Warren found on his farmland. I love this place so much! Happy weekend to all.

The road by Shangri-la:




More photos below:

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November 12, 2008

The Pesaro Altarpiece in the Frari

celestia catI found this sweet story in E.V. Lucas’ A Wanderer in Venice (published in 1914), and since it combines three of my favorite things (churches, cats, and art), I had to share it on the blog.

In his story, Lucas was sitting in front of Titian’s Pesaro Altarpiece in the church of the Frari (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari).

As I sat one day looking at this picture, a small grey and white cat sprang on my knee from nowhere and immediately sank into a profound slumber from which I hesitated to wake it. Such ingratiating acts are not common in Venice, where animals are scarce and all dogs must be muzzled.

Whether or not the spirit of Titian had instructed the little creature to keep me there, I cannot say, but the result was that I sat for a quarter of an hour before the altar without a movement, so that every particular of the painting is photographed on my retina.

Six months later the same cat led me to a courtyard opposite the Sacristy door and proudly exhibited three kittens.

Sigh. I haven’t met any cats or kittens during my many visits to the Frari, but I have read that in the former monastery next door (now the Venetian Archives), there’s a much loved colony of cats who keep the mice from nibbling away all the ancient documents of the Republic.

Here's the painting Lucas was looking at when the kitty jumped in his lap.

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November 24, 2008

The Cats of Mirikitani

catsofmirikitaniThis is such a wonderful film! I had a lump in my throat and misty eyes through much of this movie even though it's not a depressing story,although parts of it are very sad. It ends up being a poignant and uplifting tale about “the healing powers of friendship and art.”

It’s the story of Jimmy Mirikitani, a Japanese-American artist who, at age 80, was homeless and living on the streets of New York City. After 9/11, his friend Linda Hattendorf (the filmmaker) moved him into her apartment because the air was too toxic for someone living on the streets. Linda not only helped him with the bureaucratic challenges of getting help and a home of his own, but also helped him revisit his past and ultimately heal wounds that came from losing his family during WWII, both in Hiroshima and in the US internment camps where Jimmy and many other American citizens of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned.

I didn’t know a lot about these camps, and it’s just so unbelievable that there were concentration camps here on American soil (with American citizens put into them). I read somewhere that the US government has some serious karma from its treatment of Native Americans and also for slavery; I’d add the treatment of Japanese-Americans to that “bad karma” list.

The DVD has some bonus features that are definitely worth watching. I loved seeing the opening of Jimmy’s first art show. And I especially loved the scenes that show his return to Hiroshima, where he attended a memorial service for the victims of the atomic bomb. So sad and beautiful and moving.

The movie’s website says that Jimmy’s doing fine (he’s now 88 years old) and that he continues to make art, not war.” Good for him! Throughout the film, he’s shown creating his art. He's such a character, so gifted, and his work is so beautiful. A few of his paintings are shown here.

It’s such a powerful story. Sometimes getting your heartstrings tugged is a good thing! Thanks to my friend Pam for recommending this film.


January 13, 2009

Sant' Apollonia (and the Diocesan Museum)

This is such a lovely and magical spot. The 12th century cloister of Sant’ Apollonia is the oldest surviving cloister in Venice and today is part of the Museo Diocesano di Venezia (Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art).

sant apollonia

The cloister was part of a Benedictine monastery adjacent to the now demolished church of SS. Filippo e Giacomo. The monastery was built for monks who originally resided on the lagoon island of Ammiana, which sank after the Christmas Day earthquake of 1223, and so the monks moved to Venice. Sinking islands and monasteries…it makes me think about scuba-diving archeologists and what all they might find in the waters of that lagoon.


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January 29, 2009

John Ruskin (1819-1900)

“Among the many strange things that have befallen Venice, she has had the good fortune to become the object of a passion to a man of splendid genius, who has made her his own, and in doing so has made her the world’s.” – Henry James

Ruskin plaque

This memorial plaque is on the Zattere on the front of Pensione La Calcina, where Ruskin stayed for four months in 1877 on one of his many extended trips to Venice. Here's the translation:

John Ruskin
Lived in this house, 1877

High Priest of Art
In our Stones and in our San Marco
In almost every monument of Italy
He sought at one and the same time
The craftsman’s soul and the soul of the people

Every marble, every bronze, every canvas
Each of these things proclaimed to him
That beauty is religion
If the virtue of man inspire it
And the people’s reverence accept it.

The Council of Venice, In Gratitude
January 26, 1900

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February 10, 2009

Scrovegni Chapel (my ticket)

001 (2)

I've got so much to say about my visit to the Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni) in Padua (Padova) that I'm going to spread it out over several posts. But I thought I'd start with my ticket (scanned in above) and explain some of the logistics of getting this thing.

Does anyone else save their tickets? I have tons of them...concert tickets from back in high school, Tar Heel basketball games across the decades, and of course, many from Italy. As far as pack-rat-itis goes, they aren't a bad thing to save since they don't take up much room. And the Italian ones are often very beautiful; I have a few of those on my fridge. I might scan some more of them in soon.

Anyway, the scene on the ticket is a detail from Giotto's Last Judgment showing Enrico Scrovegni presenting the chapel he built to the Virgin. Here's a larger view of the scene (which is just a small detail of the large Last Judgment fresco that covers the entire west wall of the chapel.

Scrovegni chapel

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February 11, 2009

Giotto's frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel

Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour.
~Giotto di Bondone


My visit to the Scrovegni Chapel was a highlight of my recent trip but truly, it was more than that…it was one of the all-time great art experiences I’ve ever had. The chapel and the Giotto frescoes just blew me away.

Giotto lived from 1266-1337 and painted these frescoes in 1303-5. Before Giotto, most devotional art was pretty static - icons of the Madonna or the saints that were more like portraits than narratives. Giotto was the first great artist to paint the stories.

Sometimes I think that the so-called “Greatest Story Ever Told” has been told (and painted) for so long and in so many ways, it’s become too familiar and often feels very worn out. At times I find myself in churches looking at paintings and feeling like, “Ho hum, another nativity, another crucifixion.” The thing that really blew me away about Giotto is that he made the story completely fresh for me which, considering that his frescoes are 700 years old, is so amazing and truly genius.

In the chapel, there are three bands of images. The top row shows scenes from the life of the Virgin and the bottom two rows are scenes from the life of Christ. The chancel shows the Annunciation, and the Last Judgment is on the opposite west wall. You can see these frescoes very well because the chapel is so small, and there’s all this cool and colorful architectural detail painted in between the scenes with some impressive illusionistic work and painted marble. Around the bottom, there are these funky little images of the Virtues and Vices painted in monochrome, and the vault is frescoed in sky blue with stars.

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February 12, 2009

Legends about Giotto

We don’t really know a lot about Giotto, but we do know that he lived to be about 70 years old and was a very successful painter who was much in demand all over the Italian peninsula. Giotto lived and worked in Florence and also traveled to Padua, Verona, Milan, Assisi, Rome, and Naples to paint frescoes, and most of his work has not survived because frescoes are fragile and so often short-lived. I have a book, “The Complete Works of Giotto”, and it’s not very long at all...pretty incredible to think about all that lost art.

While not a lot is known about him, there are some cool legends. The best is that Giotto was a poor shepherd boy, and Cimabue (the greatest Tuscan painter of that time) discovered the boy in a field drawing his sheep on a rock. Cimabue recognized his talent, and took him as an apprentice. Another story is that the boy apprentice painted a housefly on one of Cimabue's paintings and the fly was so life-like, Cimabue tried to shoo it away.

There's a legend that claims that Giotto was a horribly ugly and disfigured dwarf. This one is contradicted by another story that says that Giotto included a self-portrait in his frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. See the fellow in the yellow cap, in the bottom row, second from the right. That's supposed to be him. This crowd scene is part of the “Last Judgment," and Giotto is part of the crowd on the “happy” side of the judgment. He looks like an artist to me.


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February 18, 2009

Canaletto in North Carolina

Canaletto in NCMA

This painting by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697-1768), is in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and is called “Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.”

The Italian word “capriccio” means whim or fancy. It could also be translated as “wait a minute, what the heck is San Giorgio Maggiore doing next to the Rialto Bridge?!?”

Canaletto was a native Venetian and while he painted many “straight up” scenes of his city, he sometimes moved things around a bit which is disconcerting to those of us who’ve been to Venice but just looks beautiful to those who haven’t. Canaletto’s paintings were much in demand by aristocratic British tourists and as a result, there are only a handful of his paintings in Venice but hundreds of them in the UK (the Queen herself has over 50 in the Royal Collection).

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March 27, 2009

PhotoHunt: Hands


This week's theme is "Hands."

A large street mural on a building in downtown Durham, NC. I don't know who the artist is but there are lots of hands (and hand holding) in the painting.


A sweet little painting and message on the back of the car that belongs to North Carolina folk artist Sam "The Dot Man" McMillan.


And here's the artist Sam "The Dot Man" with his hand in his pocket. :)


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy PhotoHunting!

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April 12, 2009

Easter Procession

This 1898 watercolour by Maurice Prendergast shows the Easter Procession inside the Basilica di San Marco. Easter is one of the high holy days when they turn the Pala d'Oro around to face the congregation, and I bet that the church will be full today for Mass.

Coming soon: another post about Prendergast and an upcoming show of his work at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice.

prendergast easter in san marks

I plan to spend part of this holiday weekend "in Venice" with Guido Brunetti via the latest Donna Leon mystery, just released this month. There's not much that's better than having a new book that you really want to read!


Here's a BBC interview with Donna Leon and Toni Sepeder (author of Brunetti's Venice, a book of walking tours based on the mystery series).

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

April 20, 2009

Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924) was a Canadian-born American painter whose work spanned the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. I found this press release about an upcoming exhibition, Prendergast in Italy, that sounds quite interesting especially since it will be at the Guggenheim in Venice next fall and winter. I like his watercolors but have never seen any of them in person; if I end up returning to Venice later this year, I’ll definitely go see this show. Most of the paintings included in the exhibition are of Venice but there are also views of Rome, Siena, and Capri.

The exhibition opens on July 18, 2009 at Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA, where it runs until September 20. From the WCMA website:

"Prendergast in Italy traces the footsteps of Maurice Prendergast as he painted his way through Italy in 1898-1899 and through Venice again in 1911. Approximately seventy watercolors, oils, and monotypes by Maurice Prendergast will be on view, along with related letters, prints, photographs, films, guidebooks, and sketchbooks to situate the work within the new visual culture that Americans had embraced by 1900."

Here's the schedule after Williamstown:

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (October 9, 2009-January 3, 2010)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 14-May 9, 2010.)

A few of his Venetian scenes (I don't know if these are in the show or not, they are just some that I like).


Campo Santa Maria Formosa



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April 24, 2009

PhotoHunt: Protection


This week's theme is "Protect(ion)."

This is a bottle tree. An old African folkloric tradition - put a bottle tree in your yard to protect your home and family from bad spirits who will be attracted to the shiny colors and get trapped inside the bottles.



You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

May 1, 2009

PhotoHunt: Walking


This week's theme is "Walking."

Walking with a book on your head is supposed to help you learn good posture or at least that's what they told us in grade school when I was a kid.

When I saw this sculpture on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, I flashed back to Health Class when all of us kids would walk around like this with books crashing to the ground. It's not that easy to do!


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend. Happy May Day!

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.

-- Buddhist saying

May 29, 2009

PhotoHunt: Book(s)


This week's theme is "Book(s).

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has for this theme. I've got one from Venice and one from North Carolina.

First up, Venice - a marble relief of an angel holding a book.


On the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, a girl carrying a huge stack of books.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

July 28, 2009

Community Art

Here's some cool art that I saw at the mall in Chapel Hill a couple of weekends ago. It's called Our Stories, in Focus and over 1,000 members of the community contributed images to this project.

From the website:

"This spring members of the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and University of North Carolina communities were invited to share personal stories and family mementos as part of the 2009 Community Art and History Project.

Participants were asked to look more closely at their personal and community histories by considering these questions: What brought you or your family to this place? and What is the legacy you want to leave in your community? Participants brought pieces of their history (photos, letters, etc.) to community workshops.....where local artists Leah Sobsey and Lynn Bregman Blass scanned and photographed the mementos. The artists then created a community portrait out of these collected images..."


From a distance, it looks like a giant windsock but when you get closer, you see the collection of memories. It's a lot of fun to look at it all, plus I love the whole concept of a community artwork. There was also an oral history part of this project that recorded people's stories about the images they contributed. We tend to think of a lone artist in the studio communing with his/her muse, but group projects like this are such a great idea. I love this one.



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September 24, 2009

San Marco by Emerik Fejes

Emerik Fejes San Marco

A friend visiting Zagreb, Croatia, sent me a postcard with this painting of Basilica di San Marco on it. I love it! The card is from The Croatia Museum of Naive Art which has a number of paintings in its collection by the artist, Emerik Fejes. This painting was done in 1957.

Emerik Fejes (1904-1969), like many naive or folk artists, didn't start painting until late in life. He was a comb and button-maker who also collected postcards which became the inspiration for his paintings, most of which depict great buildings and cityscapes from around the world. According to Wikipedia, his painting technique was unusual in that he used matchsticks instead of brushes. And of course, I was charmed by this little detail:

"He also preferred painting with his cat under his arm." Wikipedia has a sweet photo of him with his tuxedo cat.

Emerik Fejes

He looks like a nice guy. I love these self-taught artists who make art just because of some inner inspiration, not because it's their career or because they hope to make money on it. Many folk artists aren't discovered until after they've died, but Fejes had several exhibitions and some success and acclaim while he was still alive. Good for him. I'd love to see some of his work in person.

A few other works below:

Continue reading "San Marco by Emerik Fejes" »

September 25, 2009

PhotoHunt: Twisted


This week's theme is "Twisted."

I've got one from Venice and one from North Carolina this week. First is a sculpture in Durham Central Park here in NC. Definitely twisted.

001 (2)

Next is this mosaic that's on the side of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. One of thousands of architectural details on this amazing church, this is probably close to a thousand years old but looks kinda modern to me.

San Marco detail

San Marco

Find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.


October 2, 2009

PhotoHunt: Words


This week's theme is "Words."

I went to a Folk Art show earlier this year. This wasn't part of the show, it was just an artist's car outside in the parking lot. I don't know who the artist is but there are some nice words (and lots of other stuff) on his/her car~




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Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.


October 11, 2009

The Bellini altarpiece in San Zaccaria


San Zaccariadetail

The photos above show Giovanni Bellini’s Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, in the church of San Zaccaria where there are almost always a group of people gathered in front of the painting in rapt silence. So many recognizable Venetian details in this painting: the gold mosaics above the Virgin, the red and white marble floor, the mascaron on the top of the throne, a Murano glass lamp hanging down, the Lombardi carvings surrounding the scene, all the glimpses of veined marble. The architecture in the painting is connected to the actual frame itself with tiny glimpses of trees and skies on each side. Everyone is so quiet and beautiful, and only the young angel looks out at us.

Continue reading "The Bellini altarpiece in San Zaccaria" »

January 8, 2010

PhotoHunt: Bulky


This week's theme is "Bulky."

A statue of Hercules in the NC Museum of Art. He looks like a bulky guy. :)


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


January 22, 2010

PhotoHunt: Balanced


This week's theme is "Balanced."

A sculpture of a family with the little kids balanced on the big people's arms and heads.



This sculpture is in a park next to the Farmer's Market where I shop on Saturdays, and I've taken a bunch of photos of it. Here's another view on a cold winter day.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


April 9, 2010

PhotoHunt: Vertical


This week's theme is "Vertical."

Vertical poles holding up an old water tower~


A sculpture at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. It's called "Crossroads" and the artist is Martha Jackson-Jarvis. From the museum brochure:

A tall sentinel of glass, carnelian, and shattered brick marking the juncture of two trails.


Same sculpture, different day. The boys in both photos are my nephews who love to hike the sculpture trails at this museum.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


April 13, 2010

Venise by Raoul Dufy


French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) painted this scene of Venice in 1938. Two churches in this painting - San Giorgio Maggiore and its campanile on the left, and Santa Maria della Salute on the right. It's a happy painting.

Below is a detail of La Salute and the Punta della Dogana, once the Customs house and now a modern art museum. The building is crowned by a statue of Fortune balancing on a golden ball.


May 25, 2010

North Carolina Museum of Art

A few photos from the grand re-opening of the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. The museum closed last year so that the permanent collection could be moved to a new building. And what an amazing building it is!

I've always loved this museum - it has a nice collection with several works that I love to visit again and again. But the best part is that it's surrounded by a 164-acre Museum Park with hiking trails and all kinds of cool enormous sculptures. My nephews and I love to hike this art trail. The museum also has an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and movies in the summer. And now, in addition to the new ultra-mod building, there are close to 100 more works of art, both inside and out.

The light inside the new building is incredible.


The new building is surrounded with sculpture gardens and reflecting pools.



During the re-opening weekend, a dance troupe was there peforming both inside and out; it was fun to see.



Stainless steel tree on the hill - I love this.


More to come...

May 26, 2010

Temporary Art


I guess when you look at the really big picture (the one that has a billion-year timeline), all art is fragile and subject to decay, and therefore temporary. But the whole concept of intentionally temporary art is very intriguing to me. My first experience with it was many years ago when I went to a museum to see Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a sand mandala. They spent several weeks meditatively “painting” this huge spiritual circle with colored sand – slowly and carefully – and then when it was finished (and it was so gorgeous!), they destroyed it and moved on. A great Buddhist lesson in non-attachment and impermanence, I guess.

The photo at the top is part of the hiking trail at the NC Museum of Art park and when you walked along this path, you would come to this huge sculpture called “To See Jennie Smile” by Steven Siegel.


Not sure what the name means, but this thing always made me smile. For one, when you’d glimpse it from a distance through the woods, it looked like some kind of enormous beehive. And also, my nephews went wild the first time they saw it – they loved it too. It’s just a very cool sight, and we visited it many times.

The sculpture was made of several tons of newspaper (the Raleigh News and Observer, to be specific, a paper I used to subscribe to before the Internet came along). The boys loved the fact that when you got close, you could still read some text on the paper. Here are the boys checking it out~


Installed in the Museum Park in 2006, the sculpture was intentionally temporary since of course, paper left out in the elements is going to rot. I love the playfulness of putting it in the woods surrounded by trees, since paper comes from trees, and I love the whole concept of giving the wood pulp back to Mother Nature.

Even though I knew it was temporary, I imagined that it would slowly sink and rot away, and I didn’t expect it to be quite so short-lived. But last week, they had to demolish it because it had started to lean and had become too dangerous. The museum posted photos of the demolition on their Flickr site. I’m going to miss it!

Continue reading "Temporary Art" »

June 2, 2010

Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky

Cloud Chamber

My favorite work of art on the NC Museum of Art hiking trail is this one: Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky by British artist Chris Drury. I love visiting this magical little place. Not only does it look like some kind of enchanted fairy home, get's a huge pinhole camera!

There are benches inside - you go in, shut the door, and sit there for a while to let your eyes adjust to the darkness. And then the pinhole in the roof turns the whole place into a camera and inverts an image of the sky onto the walls and floors of the chamber.

Even's different every time you visit it, depending on the time of year, the position of the sun, the density of the leaves in the forest. Sometimes you see the shadows of the clouds, other times the trees. One time, a perfect laser-like beam of light streamed in through the pinhole, and my nephews went wild (it reminded them of Indiana Jones).

The boys entering the Cloud Chamber~


It doesn't look that big, but I can stand up easily inside, and there's room for at least 8 people or so on the benches~

NC Museum of Art

Here it is in winter, without the green weedy stuff growing on the roof~

Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky

The artist's website: Land Artist, Working with Nature. He's built cloud chambers all over the world, but mainly in Europe. We are so lucky to have one here in NC!

From his website:

A large preoccupation in my work has been the exploration of what inner and outer nature mean. These cloud chambers are still, silent, meditative and mysterious spaces. They are often built underground, so that in these dark spaces what is outside is brought in and reversed. Clouds drift silently across the floor.

June 8, 2010


Another sculpture I love in the NC Museum of Art park, this one is Gyre by artist Thomas Sayre. This thing is so monumentally huge and is visible from so many different parts of the park, and it changes shape depending on where you are. There are spotlights shining on it at night and it looks very cool; next time I'm over there for a concert, I'll get a photo of that.




Continue reading "Gyre" »

June 10, 2010

Art in the Landscape

A few more sculptures from the NCMA park~

Collapse I by South African artist Ledelle Moe. This sculpture makes me want to lay down in the grass and take a nap. :)


And then deep in the woods, an untitled work by the same artist. It's meant to represent a human figure rolled up in a ball, but the boys used it as as opportunity to act out the scene when Indiana Jones escapes from the huge rolling boulder. Interactive art!



Continue reading "Art in the Landscape" »

June 29, 2010

Venetian Art in NC

The North Carolina Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of Italian art, with a number of works that take me to Venice every time I go to Raleigh to visit the museum. A while back, I wrote about the Canaletto Capriccio painting in the collection; here are a few more.

This lovely Madonna and Child in a Landscape is by Cima da Conegliano, painted around 1499 while the artist was living in Venice. This painting was featured on a US Christmas stamp in 1993.


Veronese's The Baptism of Christ, painted in 1550-60~


The Grand Canal at the Palazzo Foscari, painted in 1740 by Michele Marieschi~

Grand Canal by Marieschi

This over-the-top painting makes me laugh every time I see it. It's The Triumph of Venice, painted in 1737 by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni. A female figure representing Venice is driving the chariot pulled by two winged lions. Next to her is Renaissance doge Leonardo Loredan surrounded by a huge crowd of Roman Gods. You can glimpse the Palazzo Ducale in the background.


Continue reading "Venetian Art in NC" »

July 7, 2010

My old friend Giotto


Another masterpiece in the NC Museum of Art's Italian collection is this work by Giotto, The Peruzzi Altarpiece. Painted around 1310-15, it's the only complete altarpiece by Giotto outside of Italy. This work is less "modern" than those incredible frescoes in Padova that I loved so much, but the gentle hand gestures are so clearly Giotto. The work shows Christ Blessing in the center with John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary to the left, and John the Baptist and St. Francis of Assisi on the right.

In 2008, this altarpiece returned on loan to Italy for a year and then came back to NC. Here's an interesting and funny article about the high tech preparations involved in getting the work ready for travel. There's a photoset on Flickr called Giotto Homecoming that shows the museum staff unpacking it when it arrived home. I bet they were so relieved to have it back safe and sound!

And welcome home to blog friend Sandra, who just returned from a month in Italy. She had a cool and very unusual Giotto experience in Assisi (viewing his frescoes up close and personal while wearing a hard hat!) and has just posted some wonderful shrine photos from her trip.

Continue reading "My old friend Giotto" »

August 20, 2010

PhotoHunt: Numerical


This week's theme is "Numerical."

Tough theme! I had to look for a while before I found photos of this scupture with a vaguely numerical inspiration.

It's called "All the Possibilites of Stacking Up to Two Cubed to Sit On" by artist Vernon Pratt. This sculpture is outside the Durham Arts Council building.

I have a hazy memory of doing math problems like this in school many years ago. Makes me glad my math class days are over!



Durham Arts Council

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


October 8, 2010

PhotoHunt: Stripes


This week's theme is "Stripes."

I'm glad this theme got repeated. Last time, I showed a boat pole in a Venice canal and a barber shop pole here in NC.

This time, I've got this huge painting by American artist Frank Stella. It's called "Ragga II" and hangs in the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. The stripes and the colors (along with the size) make quite an impact.


Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


February 1, 2011

Murals on Sacca Fisola

I love public art and street murals. Even if I don’t like an individual work of street art, I love that it’s there for everyone who passes by to see. So I was happy and somewhat surprised to see these modern street murals in the neighborhood surrounding the church of San Gerardo Sagredo.

Sacca Fisola

Sacca Fisola

Man with storm cloud and bathtub?

Sacca Fisola

These are two different murals, one on the building and the other on the wall. The contrast between them looks pretty cool.

Sacca Fisola

Sacca Fisola

February 7, 2011

Fioravante Seibezzi

Fioravante house

When I was walking through Santa Croce, I stumbled across this house. The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful arch fragment and then the degraded or chiseled-away relief inside it. But when I stopped to take a photo, I noticed the sign above the arch stating that this was the home of Venetian artist Fioravante Seibezzi (1906-1974). I wasn’t familiar with him so when I got home, I checked him out and found some of his paintings. He’s an interesting guy…a self-taught artist whose first career was a bricklayer. He debuted at the Venice Biennale in 1938 and exhibited there many times. He also won a competition to design the stained glass windows for the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido (home of the Venice Film Festival).

Here’s a rough translation of the sign on his house – a sweet tribute:

Long lived in this house
ingenious and delicate Venetian painter
that the magic transparencies of his paintings enclosed
the wide blue expanse
and the iridescent lagoon water
that his boyish heart
forever dreaming

I love his paintings.



This is my favorite. The title is Lagoon Landscape or something like that, but it's got to be Torcello.


Continue reading "Fioravante Seibezzi" »

March 2, 2011

Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador


The church of San Salvador has two paintings by Titian – one that I absolutely love and another that I’m not that crazy about. The painting on the high altar (The Transfiguration) is the one I don’t love – some art historians think it was badly restored and maybe that’s true; it looks a bit flat to me and the colors look strange. But no worries, because the other Titian is a mind-blower – The Annunciation (third altar on the right). Titian was over 70 years old when he painted this one. Mary is being approached by Archangel Gabriel, who looks particularly powerful and androgynous, but all the action is in that impressionistic burst of energy, angels, and light above them.

There’s another Titian Annunciation in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, painted almost thirty years earlier, and it’s really interesting to compare them - the San Rocco one (below) is gorgeous, but it’s so quiet and serene while the San Salvador one is explosive.


There’s an interesting mystery connected to the signature on the San Salvador painting. Titian signed his name and then wrote “fecit fecit” (he did it, he did it). Some scholars think that he was being grouchy and addressing critics who might think that the painting was unfinished or had been done by artists from his workshop and not by him. But Lorenzetti (Venice and its Lagoon) says that Titian signed it that way “to emphasize the miracle of his activity” and that makes more sense to me. I think he knew it was a great painting.

Continue reading "Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador" »

May 20, 2011

PhotoHunt: Cluttered


This week's theme is "Cluttered."

This is a work of art at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. From a distance, it looks kinda cluttered. But when you move closer, you see that it's a bunch of little faces, 277 of them and no two alike. I think it's very cool. The name of the piece is "Congregation" and the artist is Ledelle Moe.

Congregation by Ledelle Moe

Congregation (detail)

Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

July 15, 2011

PhotoHunt: Backwards


This week's theme is "Backwards."

This work by artist Devorah Sperber is in the NC Museum of Art. It's the Mona Lisa backwards and upside-down, and the image is made of 5,184 spools of thread suspended on metal chain.

But when you look at it through a small crystal ball, the image flips and is right-side up. Very cool.




Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

July 29, 2011

PhotoHunt: Together

This week's theme is "Together."

Tibetan monks work together to create a sand mandala that honors the female Buddha, Green Tara. They came to my area as part of a Sacred Arts Tour, spent a couple of weeks creating this sand painting, and then had a ceremony where they destroyed it, giving us a Buddhist lesson about impermanence and change.

These monks are from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India, where 2,000 refugee monks live. More info about the Sacred Arts Tour here.

sand mandala

Sand Mandala

Tibetan sand mandala

Sand Mandala

Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


November 4, 2011

PhotoHunt: Light

This week's theme is "Light."

Another post from my recent trip to New Orleans. The name of this sculpture is "Travelin' Light."

Sculpture Garden

From the sign:

"This sculpture, by nationally renowned African American artist, Alison Saar, is a thought-provoking memorial to victims of terror and violence. The man, while formally dressed, is presented in a torturous position: yet he appears brave and resolute, preserving his personal dignity. Saar has made the figure into a bell, inspired by Japanese temple bells, which are rung in purification rites. When the chain is pulled on the back, a deep, mournful sound is heard. The title, Travelin' Light, is taken from a popular Billie Holiday song."

If you're planning to visit New Orleans, please make time to go to the New Orleans Museum of Art and especially The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. An incredible collection of art in a gorgeous outdoor setting. A few more photos of this sculpture are below the jump.

Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


Continue reading "PhotoHunt: Light" »

November 11, 2011

PhotoHunt: Two

This week's theme is "Two."

Happy 11/11/11!

Back to the New Orleans Museum of Art and a few photos from the The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden that fit the "two" theme.

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


May 22, 2012

S is for Stainless Steel

I had a blast visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art last year and especially enjoyed The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. What a beautiful setting for an amazing collection.

One of my favorite works was this sculpture made of stainless steel~

NOLA 600

The flat sides were just like mirrors, very cool~

NOLA 594

NOLA 601

But the concave side was even cooler - wild and swirly! So much fun to photograph this piece.


New Orleans Museum of Art

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


June 19, 2012

W is for Water

Well, it's definitely one of my favorite things to photograph. These first two were taken at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.

The first is one of the reflecting pools outside the museum, and the second is in the museum restaurant called Iris.

NC Museum of Art

Iris (the restaurant)

A goose family that I saw this spring at a local pond~


And here are a couple from Venice.

The first is a view of Venice from the island of Murano; the second is the Grand Canal.

View from Murano

Grand Canal

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


June 29, 2012

PhotoHunt: Street Art

A few months ago, I spent the day in Winston-Salem, NC. Like many cities in North Carolina, Winston-Salem is in the midst of a downtown urban renewal program. I love seeing cities like this coming back to life. Winston's downtown arts district has lots of galleries and murals on every block. It was fun to walk around and see it all. I love public art!

Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC

This was my favorite. Love the colors, love the way the bird is flying through that door.

Winston-Salem, NC

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. If you're in the midst of this heat wave, keep cool and drink lots of water!

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


January 15, 2013

Filippo de Pisis

I learned about this artist while reading Hugh Honour's Companion Guide to Venice (a fantastic book organized as a series of thematic walking tours).

Before he reached the church of San Sebastiano in Dorsoduro, Mr. Honour pointed out a red Gothic palazzo and said that it had been the home of artist Filippo de Pisis (1896-1956), "one of the few modern painters who has successfully caught the flicker of Venetian light." High praise indeed!

I was happy to find (via Google) many of de Pisis' paintings on the web. He was born in Ferrara, lived in Paris and Rome, and then spent most of the 1940's in Venice. Sounds like he was quite a character - he would set up his easel in the calli and campi, and paint with his pet parrot, Coco, sitting on his shoulder. He also owned his own gondola and employed a full-time gondolier.

He painted many Venetian scenes including a number of churches (and not only the most famous ones). I like his work a lot.

I posted his painting of the church of San Lorenzo here and a few more are below.

San Moise


San Pantalon


Santa Maria della Salute




Thanks so much to Bert for sending these photos of the palazzo where de Pisis lived. The plaque above the door says that the artist lived there from 1943-49. If anyone knows anything about the other degraded plaques on this house, please let us know!

Dorsoduro 1709

Dorsoduro 1709

January 26, 2013

PhotoHunt: Architecture or Building

One of the oldest and most breath-takingly beautiful palaces on the Grand Canal in Venice, Ca' d'Oro (golden house) was built in 1420-1431 by the Contarini family in the Venetian Gothic style.

Over the next four centuries, it had at least a dozen different owners until 1894 when it was purchased by Baron Giorgio Franchetti. He did an extensive restoration and left the palace plus his fantastic art collection to the state.

Today it's an art museum: Galleria Giorgio Franchetti. Well worth visiting if you are in Venice!




Ca' d'Oro

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

June 3, 2013

La Biennale di Venezia

La Biennale di Venezia opened this week and already, there are some great articles and images on the web. So I thought I'd share a few links~

Why Venice Matters

Slide Show of most memorable works

Venetian Finds (emerging artists)

Official Twitter page (you can find many more links here)

And if you need a little break from the modern, a look at Venice's past~

Venice in Ten Artworks

This year for the first time, the Vatican has a pavilion at La Biennale. Below is a photo from Flickr of the Patriarch of Venice at the Inaugurazione padiglione Santa Sede (Opening of the Holy See Pavilion).


I hope to resume regular blogging soon - hope everyone is having a nice spring.

January 10, 2014

PhotoHunt: Time

It's interesting and also a bit odd when artists play with time as Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova did with his sculpture of George Washington. The artist traveled back in time several centuries to present the First U.S. President as an ancient Roman statesman. It's not how I picture George at all!

NC Museum of History

It was also odd to stumble across this Venice - North Carolina connection a few months ago. I found the Canova sculpture in the NC Museum of History (it was labeled as Giorgio Washington, which made me laugh).

I learned that in the early 19th century, the state of North Carolina commissioned Canova to create this sculpture, which was delivered in 1821 and placed in the State Capitol building in Raleigh, NC. Unfortunately, its life was short; the sculpture was destroyed by fire in 1831.

Then in 1910, Italy gave North Carolina a plaster replica of the destroyed sculpture and that's what you see in these photos I took in the museum in Raleigh.

NC Museum of History

Canova (1757-1822) was born in the Venetian Republic, not in Venice proper but in the mainland town of Possagno. A child prodigy, he was sent to Venice to study sculpture when he was a teenager (he had a studio in the Santo Stefano monastery). He later moved to Rome and traveled all over Europe during his career but returned late in life to Venice where he died in 1822.

From Hugh Honour (The Companion Guide to Venice):

"Canova established himself as the leading sculptor in Italy and before the century was out, he was widely regarded as the greatest that Europe had produced since Antiquity. Popes, emperors, and kings competed for his services and treated him with a deference accorded to no Venetian artist since Titian...while Canova was the last of the great Venetians, he was the first of the international artists of the nineteenth century."

After the fall of Napoleon, Canova used his influence to get the French to return some of the great art they had looted from Italy, including the Horses of San Marco.

The Museo Correr in Venice has a number of Canova's sculptures, and the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari contains his funeral monument (his heart is there but the rest of his body is in the church he designed in Possagno).

This funeral monument was created by Canova's students, based on a design by Canova himself for a never-completed monument to Titian.

More time travel, this time to the 1870's - a couple of vintage images of the Canova monument in the Frari. The first is a photograph by Carlo Naya, the second an engraving showing 19th century tourists visiting the church.

canova tomb

Canova's Tomb in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 18, 2014

Still Life

When I saw this week's PhotoHunt theme, I immediately thought of Tom Robbins' great novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, which begins with a quote from Erica Jong: "There are no such things as still lifes."

I guess it depends on how you define "still" or inanimate. When I think of still life in art, fruit and flowers come to mind. They can't get up and walk around, but they are alive and changing, not really still.

Anyway, here's an interesting painting by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) called "Still Life in a Venetian Landscape." The apples are "still" but the lagoon landscape is not! This was done during the artist's neo-Baroque phase; a couple of his more surrealist paintings are in the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. I like the colors - you can click on it to see it larger.

Still life in Venetian landscape

I found very few photos I'd taken in Venice that work for this theme. Though I guess technically a street shrine might be called still life? I did find a few more classic still life views.

A basket of pomegranates and squash at a trattoria by a canal~

still life

Still Life with Digital Clock, taken at the B&B where I stayed the last time I was in Venice.

still life

Another scene from the B&B~

still life

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

May 23, 2014

PhotoHunt: Mirror

In the Galleria Franchetti in Venice, there's a painting by Titian called "Venus with a Mirror."

What's wrong with this picture? Well, despite the title, there's no mirror in it because someone cut off the right side of the painting (where the mirror used to be). Why? No clue. Maybe because the painting was too big for their frame? Hard to imagine cutting up a Titian!

Venus with a Mirror

This was a popular subject that Titian painted more than once. There's another "Venus with a Mirror" in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The mirror survives in this painting (a cute cherub is holding it for her).

Venus with a Mirror

Titian did this painting in 1555, five years after the Venice version. When he died, his son inherited the painting but then sold it along with all the other contents of his father's house to Venetian nobleman, Cristoforo Barbarigo. In 1850, the Barbarigo family sold the painting to Czar Nicholas I of Russia, and the painting was in the Hermitage until 1931 when it was purchased by Andrew Mellon who later gave it to the National Gallery in DC. A long strange trip!

The Galleria Franchetti is in Ca' d'Oro, one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

October 3, 2014

Titian's Danaë

I went to Washington DC for a few days last month; it was a work trip, but I did have enough free time to visit the National Gallery of Art to see Titian's painting, Danaë, which is on a six-month loan from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples.

I was excited to visit a Titian I'd never seen before, and the museum helped build the anticipation during the long walk to see the painting.

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art

And here it is. What a gorgeous painting. You can get a better look at it on the Web Galley of Art.

National Gallery of Art

Titian was commissioned to paint Danaë by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the grandson of Pope Paul III. Titian began the painting in Venice and then completed it during his trip to Rome in 1545-46. The brochure from the National Gallery of Art says, "Titian established a new genre in Western art, that of erotic mythologies..." and notes that there wasn't much demand for such paintings in his hometown of Venice and so Titian painted these beauties for non-Venetian patrons like Cardinal Farnese.

Giovanni della Casa, the papal legate to Venice, visited Titian's studio when the Danaë was in progress and wrote a letter to Cardinal Farnese telling him that the painting was so shocking that it made the Venus of Urbino "look like a nun by comparison." A funny exaggeration! Eight years prior to painting Danaë, Titian had painted the equally gorgeous Venus of Urbino for another non-Venetian patron (this painting is now in the Uffizi in Florence).

Another great story about Danaë comes to us from Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists. When Titian went to Rome, he was given studio space in the Vatican and continued his work on Danaë. One day Michelangelo visited Titian's studio and saw the painting. He praised it lavishly but later confided to Vasari that while the colors were masterful, it's a shame that Venetian artists had never learned how to draw. Ouch! Sounds like some sour grapes to me. But I love knowing that Titian and Michelangelo met.

During World War II, the Nazis looted Danaë and many other works of art. When the war ended, the painting was found hidden in a salt mine in Austria; two years later, it was returned to Italy.

Another post will be coming soon about some of the other Venetian gems I saw in DC.

Here's a couple more pics from the National Galley of Art - these little kids were gathered around Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, all holding the audio guide headsets up to their ears and listening intently. It bugs me that the arts have been pretty much eliminated from US public schools, so it made me happy to see this.

National Gallery of Art

And I saw this in the National Gallery bookstore - a new book about Venice! I haven't read it yet but it's on my to-read list.

National Gallery of Art

October 10, 2014

Venetian Art in DC

The National Gallery of Art has a treasure trove of Venetian art - an amazing collection. The gang's all here - the Vivarinis and the Bellinis, Cima, Veronese, Lotto, three paintings by Giorgione (!) and a whole room of Titians. Here are a few things that caught my eye during my visit last month.

Paolo Veneziano, The Coronation of the Virgin, 1324

National Gallery of Art

Both of these Carpaccios are so beautiful. While I love his epic series in Venice, these smaller and quieter paintings are so lovely.

Vittore Capaccio, The Flight into Egypt, 1515

National Gallery of Art

Vittore Carpaccio, The Virgin Reading, 1505

National Gallery of Art

This Tintoretto below is very interesting, not as dark and stormy with a much lighter palette than most of his works.

Jacopo Tintoretto, The Madonna of the Stars, second half of the 16th century

National Gallery of Art

After I visited the National Gallery, I walked across the mall to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Those of you who have visited the Guggenheim Museum in Venice and seen "The Angel of the City" on the terrace will understand why this sculpture by the same artist caught my eye. It's very similar but something is missing...

Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-53

Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

January 28, 2015

Snowfall in Venice

snowfall in venice by BrunoRosso 1965

This beautiful photo of Piazza San Marco was taken by Bruno Rosso in 1965. It's now part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. You can see a larger image here.

I love the mood of this photo. I've never experienced snow in Venice - I hope to some day. A Lover of Venice has a magical trip through Snow-covered Venice on his site (so glad that ALoV is back on line!).

Hope everyone is having a nice winter without too much extreme cold.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Churches in Venice in the Art category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Basilica di San Marco is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


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