Wednesday, 7 October 2015


8th Sept 2015

A work of 'art'? in the Guggenheim gallery.

Back into watery Venice for another look-around. Started the day, after long queue for the vaporetto, at the Rialto bridge which was pretty crowded even if it doesn't look it in this photo (left).

There are large fish and vegetable markets nearby which are not particularly exciting, unless you are mad keen on buying fish and vegetables I suppose.

I had been told that there is a 'gem of a church' in the vicinity called 'Chiesa di St. Maria del Miracoli' which, according to my informant, is a 'must' to visit. This place is 'chiesa city'. Every campo has a church on it of some description. According to my map it was close by and, shuffling through the narrow streets packed with dawdling tourists, I got completely occupational hazard in Venice. Anyway, I found it eventually (left). From the outside it looked like most of the others.

I wandered in and was confronted by a hatchet faced woman behind a kiosk who told me it would cost 3 Euros to enter. I'm sure all the other churches were free entry. I said I just wanted to take a photo and leave. Still 3 Euros.

Frankly, it looked like most of the others on the inside as well (right) albeit with an elaborately decorated ceiling. So I took my photo and left. Only having shuffled off for about 20 minutes did I realise that I had left my cap behind. Bugger! Back to the church and was expecting to be asked to fork out another 3 Euros to retrieve my cap. I didn't wait to be asked and got it back, luckily.

Some pleasant restaurants on the canal-side at the Rialto, so I selected this one, Café Verguano, for a light lunch. I must say, you can't fault the place on it's restaurants and cafés.

You may have gathered from my less than euphoric reaction to most of the arty-farty things on display in these delightful Italian towns that I am a total philistine and cultural ignoramus. However, I do at least make an effort to see them. Out of curiosity I decided to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in a gallery across the Accademia Bridge.

Right: Peggy Guggenheim, a fearsomely wealthy Jewish-American heiress who lived for some time in Venice and prolific collector of 'modern' art. Not sure what sort of hairy creature she is holding here. 

The galleries contain paintings, if you can call them that, by such artists as Jackson and Charles Pollock amongst many others of whom I have never heard.

As explained, I know bugger all about art. My definition of a good painting has to include the proviso that I couldn't possibly do it myself. The trouble with most of the daubings in this place is that I probably could, if I could be bothered. Indeed some of them looked as if they were done by 5 year old children let loose with a box of paints or crayons on the kitchen wall.

Left: Like this one, done in her lunch break, probably after too many strong gins, by someone called Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) entitled 'Composition'.

Or this one (right) a scribble on a blackboard by Cy Twombey (1928-2011). Untitled. Or more likely by Cy Twombey's hyper-active 4 year old child.

Left: A lovely colourful mess entitled 'Spring on Cape Cod' by Hans Hoffman (1880-1966) produced while under the influence of some mind-altering substance I suspect. 

Right: At least this masterpiece has the distinction of some technical care being taken in it's production. It is by Ellsworth Kelly, painted in 1964 and entitled, most imaginatively, 'Blue-Red'.

Left: Another example of Ms Guggenheim's eclectic taste. Can't remember who did it, but I hope he/she has recovered. 

...And then there were the offerings by brothers Jackson and Charles Pollock. Charles, the elder brother, actually painted some decent stuff initially and lived to a ripe old age. Jackson, much admired and sponsored by Peggy Guggenheim (an 'affaire de coeur ' perhaps?) produced abstract dribblings and died at 44 having become a drunk junky. Perhaps being a drunk junky is a prerequisite for this type of 'art', and it certainly made him famous.

His biography (right) mentions his vision of making 'energy and motion'. I suppose this describes his technique of staggering around with a few tins of industrial paint and spilling it onto the canvas on the floor. That, basically, is how he did it.

Left: An example of Charles Pollock's work (I think). Not sure I would really want this on my wall.

I entered one room where this was hanging (right). It is a Jackson Pollock masterpiece entitled 'Alchemy' and was being guarded by a snotty-nosed student who told me I couldn't take a photo. Some sort of 'copyright' issue because it was on loan from somewhere, he tried to explain. So I did when he wasn't watching.

I'm sorry, but I really do think these 'works' are a load of Pollocks, if you'll forgive the pathetic pun.

Probably the most skillfully produced hanging was this item (left). I looked at it for longer than most of the others. It is the fire escape plan.

...which reminds me of a visit some time ago to 'Tate Modern' on the Thames Embankment in London; the converted turbine hall that houses egocentric monstrosities by the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.
I was in one of the rooms there where, in a corner, a group of 'afficionados' of the weirdy beardy sandal wearing variety were gazing at a tubular construction with a canvas covering. They were stroking their chins and waxing lyrical about the artistic merits of this 'piece of art'. About five minutes later a security guard came over and sat on it. It was, quite simply, his chair! This is true......promise.

Perhaps I should attempt a few paint spillages myself.....and become a FAMOUS ARTIST.

So that was my take on Ms Guggenheim's collection. Whatever turns you on I suppose.

Right: The bell in the bell tower in St. Marks Square. Forgot to show it earlier. I don't think they ring it much. Not when visitors are present anyway.

Left: A view up the Grand Canal from either the Rialto or Accademia bridge (forgotten) showing a variety of canal traffic.

I may have mentioned earlier that this was the period of the 'biennale' exhibition when many of the public buildings and churches are turned over to artistic displays or performances, mostly with free entry. Small orchestras play in the churches along with arty displays in others, such as this bit of musical weaponry in one of the churches (right)
Lots of other things seen and done, but I have shown enough of Venice. I must say I was quite impressed and amused, helped by the fact that the weather was warm and sunny. It will be a pity when the place finally falls apart and sinks. The indigenous population is already in serious decline. My overriding observation is that Venice, quaint and charming though it is with great eateries and overrun by tourists, is nothing more nor less than a glorified Theme Park. 

So, back to the hotel and tomorrow we are off back home via Turin, I believe. Our gallant band of travellers has sustained no further casualties as far as I am aware...haven't seen them for a couple of days. I probably told you that several of them have AIDS.......hearing aids, walking aids etc.

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