Artisanship has always been a quintessential feature of Venice.
Shops and small artisan businesses have integrated within the history of this city for centuries, nestling within its social fabric.
Alleys, courtyards and small squares often conceal such small gems, featuring appealing itineraries in the lesser-known locations in town.
Therefore, taking our cue from Homo Faber, one of the key events of this month, dedicated to the various aspects of what is labelled today as high craftsmanship, we wish to suggest a free-walking itinerary around town, capable of aiding the discovery of everyday life in a workshop, through the words and gestures of those who have chosen this craft and who devote their passion and dedication to it.
So it shall be possible to find masters of glass, ceramic and wood, or even tailoring and spectacle-making, thus discovering their businesses over a circuit along suggestive city vistas, but also along museums, historical sites and monuments. We are essaying to do so in a simple manner, with a free itinerary and no impositions, describing a dozen activities, from the heart of the city to the picturesque islands in the lagoon.
FROM HOMO FABER TO THE ART BIENNALE: THE TOP EVENTS IN TOWN
A luminous “bird’s eye” view is opening this spring issue, we are on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, a stretch of water away from Saint Mark, the heart of the city. In the foreground is the Cini Foundation complex, an ancient Benedictine-order monastery, which went down in history, amongst many others, for the Peace of Venice, a meeting desired between Pope Alexander III and Frederick Barbarossa in remote 1177, during which Venice was recognised as a free and sovereign state on a par with all the other European ones: an event we should like to be auspicious and enlightening during the sad current ones.
In addition to its history, the island of San Giorgio, with its Foundation created by count Vittorio Cini and dedicated to his son Giorgio, is the protagonist nowadays, with five novel projects starting this month, which will place the island at the core of the town’s artistic and cultural interest.
The first date is on 4 April with “The Rooms of Glass”, the showcasing cycle which for several years has been presenting international artists connected with glass as an expressive substance and a vehicle for research. FontanaArt. Living in Glass will be a critical retrospective regarding the glass furnishings by this legendary firm from Milan, which traced a historic stylistic arc within Twentieth century design thanks to its founder, Gio Ponti, and to the directors who followed him, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand and Gae Aulenti. What is perhaps the most anticipated event is following on 10 April, the maxi-exhibition presented by Homo Faber “Crafting a more human future – Living treasures of Europe and Japan”.
An authentic event with its 15 different exhibitions dedicated to artistic crafts and to artisan excellence, spreading over more than 4000 square metres and occupying certain areas opening to the public for the first time. A circuit leading from European masters to Japanese ones (guests of honour at the event) and to the fascinating discovery of artists deemed to be actual “living treasures”.
Then, on April 20, the splendid museum-home of Palazzo Cini is opening. Here the limelight is on Joseph Beuys, the well-known master of conceptual art: 40 of his artworks will focus on two of his important research themes, the human body and animal imagery.
Back to the island, starting from 22 April, with two other important exhibitions: On Fire, a collective show in collaboration with Tornabuoni Art addressing one of the primary elements in nature, fire; and Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence, a series of novel monumental paintings and sculptures, in which the American artist highlights the brutality of the American and global colonial past.
The month of April is also marked by the Venice Biennale and its own International Art Exhibition, an event which has been featuring international trends in contemporary art for over a century.
Postponed for a year due to the pandemic, it is back from 23 April in its traditional venues at the Giardini and at the Arsenal, with its great “The milk of dreams” central exhibition by curator Cecilia Alemani (the first Italian woman to direct the exhibition). In addition to that, there are the customary National Participations, a good 80 within this edition, and 31 collateral Events.
The exhibitions scenario also adds showcases promoted by top city institutions. Thus, for the City Museums there is the recently-opened solo exhibition on Anselm Kiefer at the Ducal Palace, and the retrospective on Afro at Ca’ Pesaro (from 21 April); for the Pinault Foundation, the anthological ones dedicated to Marlene Dumas at Palazzo Grassi, and to Bruce Nauman at Punta della Dogana (both already open), and then the great exhibition dedicated by the Galleries of the Accademia to British sculptor Anish Kapoor (from 20 April); the retrospective on Ukrainian artist Louise Nevelson at the Old Procuratories (from the 23rd); the fascinating circuit presented by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Surrealism and Magic, starting from 9 April.
Finally, regarding the shows page, for which we are offering a few hints to follow, we may recall the two great pageants of this month, distinguished by their solemn services at Saint Mark’s Basilica: the one for Easter (17 April) and the one for Saint Mark, the patron saint of the city, celebrated on 25 April together with National Liberation Day. Days of celebration, which the city and all of us would strongly like to dedicate to Peace.