Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday in the garden at the Guggenheim

First let me say it is not as easy as one would think to find a cappuccino on Sunday morning. But we prevailed. And then gathered with the rest of the crowd outside the gates of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection waiting for them to swing open. I had visited this marvelous collection in 2005 and was anxious to go back for a second look. I was delighted and also disappointed.

A formidable collection of 20th Century art is housed in a beautiful palazzo on the Grand Canal that was Peggy Guggenheim's home here as well as spilling over into another building separated from the main house by a fantastic sculpture garden, probably my favorite part of the property. (The photo at the left is the first piece you encounter and I've put up a link to the collection's official website.)

I love the artists represented in this collection - Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Magritte, Jackson Pollack - and am particularly drawn to the sculptors. "Maiastra" and "Bird in Space" by Constantin Brancusi are simply breathtaking. Giacometti and Marini are here, too. And the Alexander Calder mobiles are positively joyous. I was very much looking forward to seeing again the incredible headboard he created for Guggenheim. This is where the disappointment set it.

It is Biennale time and so the palazzo, which last time I was here was very obviously a home with an art collection in it, has been turned over to two installations, one
by Matthew Barney, the other by Joseph Beuys - collectively called "all in the present must be transformed." Both Wanda and I were completely baffled by them even after having read all the literature and frankly, we didn't like them enough to work at it any harder.

There was delight, though, in two other small Biennale-related installations - a magnificent sculpture by Anish Kapoor, the second I've seen here and I shall learn more about this artist, and a series of monotypes by Emilio Vadova, a favorite son who died just last year.

Later in the afternoon, Wanda's first vaporetto ride and a walk - along with the throngs - through Piazza San Marco and the Basilica itself. And yes, Harry's again. Hey, this is Wanda's first trip to Venice and as you know, a Bellini at Harry's is required. I have another Harry's story for you, not nearly so charming as the first. I'll post it soon.

Today we are off on a little "neighbor island" adventure to the glass island of Murano.


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