Restricted entrances and queues, but the rooms are not crowded
A Saturday in July. Venice repopulates, wearing its pearl necklaces and precious brocades to welcome visitors again. It wants to be impeccable, as Tintoretto, Veronese and Titian made it. Yes, it is very beautiful, even without that special symphony of silences that, for months, echoed in my head when I saw it, thoughtful and undressed, in its perfect nakedness. I would like to see it still like that, but these days it is necessary to share happily. So, I enjoy the “morning breeze” of a city that “no longer drifts like a bait, to catch the mornings rising to its rings” (Rilke), not yet trivialised by full tourist consumption. I am surprised by a new, regenerating energy, as if I were a student who reviews all books and notes before the exams. I go to the Guggenheim Collection, curious to know how it feels without the hordes of tourists from all over the world that usually crowd it.
On my way, I come by Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Forgetting about my plans, I stand up in front of the grandeur of the Crucifixion; while I observe it, another work by Tintoretto comes to my mind, Paradise, which dominates the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Ducal Palace and was painted after the 1577 fire (in those days, too, the Serenissima lost no time in reviving the headquarters of its power). On my way out, I inquire about the flow of tourists.
Many exhibitions are worth a visit, from Cartier-Bresson to Lartigue
There are many visitors, especially from Italy, but you can already hear people speaking other languages. The same happens at Gallerie dell’Accademia, where Jacopo Bassano’s amazing altar piece (1541) is showcased, after being out for a year. Shortly before reaching this gallery, I stop over at Palazzo Grassi for the Henri Cartier-Bresson: Le Grand Jeu exhibition; the father of photojournalism, equipped with his Leica camera, teaches us to look at the details of our everyday lives and search for a perfect synthesis to “fix eternity in an instant”. Mixing reality and poetry, 250 pictures capture the life of the last century, symbolically cancelling any time gap. Here, there is also Youssef Nabil, the young Egyptian artist who, with his Once Upon a Dream, shows us a page of photography from the East. Changing perspective is not an easy thing, but Youssef is a mesmerizing storyteller who uses images to create elegant and unprecedented combinations of reality and dream.
Videos, too, encourage us to establish a more intimate relationship with the colours, lights and music of nostalgia and the desire to live. At the Guggenheim, those who have not booked in advance tidily wait in line. Here, too, entrances are restricted. This accustoms us to waiting, but it is worth it; the exhibition rooms are not crowded, allowing for that new experience I was looking forward to. I would like to go to Punta della Dogana to see Untitlet, 2020. Tre sguardi sull’arte di oggi (“three views on today’s art”), which features 64 artists from the Pinault Collection and other international museums. I also would like to cross the canal and visit the Casa dei Tre Oci in the Giudecca sestriere, to enjoy Jacques Henri Lartigue’s L’invenzione della felicità (“the invention of happiness”), another open photographic exhibition.
But it is late. I think of the many things we can see here in Venice, almost travelling back in time to the Middle Ages and the Gothic period; they are the remedy to bridge the epochal abyss between the security of before and the uncertainty of the present, and they are within our reach. On the sides of the entrance door of Palazzo Grimani, in Santa Maria Formosa, there is a writing, “Genio urbis augustae/usuique amicorum” (to the genius of the august city/and to the use of friends). Thank you for your hospitality, Queen of the Seas, I have not been feeling at home like this for a long time.
Maria Angela Tiozzi