Francesco Vezzoli. Musei delle Lacrime

  • When:   April 17, 2024 - November 24, 2024

Contemporary artArt Exhibitions in Venezia


Francesco Vezzoli. Musei delle Lacrime
Francesco Vezzoli, installation view, Musei delle Lacrime, 2024, Museo Correr, Venezia. Foto Melania Dalle Grave_DSL Studio

From 17 April to 24 November 2024, Fondazione Civici Musei di Venezia and the Venice International Foundation present "Musei delle Lacrime (Museums of Tears)", a site-specific exhibition conceived by Francesco Vezzoli (Brescia, 1971) for the painting gallery of Museo Correr in Venice.

The exhibition, located in the heart of Venice and curated by Donatien Grau, marks Francesco Vezzoli's return to the fundamental aspects of his research, rooted in an interest in heritage and its interplay with contemporary culture and life. Invited by the Venice International Foundation, the artist engages with the city's cultural heritage and offers his take on the Museo Correr's historical collection and modern invention; he conceives an entirely new project drawn from his own oeuvre. Featuring 36 works by Francesco Vezzoli and spanning over 20 years of his practice, the exhibition includes 16 works created especially for the show.

For the first time in its history, the Venice International Foundation has worked with a contemporary artist to reimagine a venerated space in Venice, heralding a new chapter in its historical mission. This new vision, which combines the safeguarding and protecting of Venetian artistic heritage with the innovative power of contemporary art, is spearheaded by the Foundation's president, architect and collector Luca Bombassei.

The exhibition
Francesco Vezzoli's exhibition Musei delle Lacrime was designed for the painting gallery of the Museo Correr, creating a dialogue with both its storied collection of Venetian art, which includes masterpieces from the 13th to the 17th century, and the modernist interiors of the galleries, designed in the 1950s by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa. It is therefore a radical take on art history and heritage.

Almost 30 years ago, Francesco Vezzoli began embroidering tears on images of well-known masterpieces, thus creating his own museum and challenging the very idea of the museum as a structure of power. The title of the exhibition references the motif of the embroidered tear, a common thread which the artist uses to lead the visitor on a journey through works of art from different eras. Through the intimate and highly symbolic technique of embroidery, Francesco Vezzoli draws on a wide range of personal references, contemporary cultural influences and traditional elements that make up his culture, to challenge artistic, social and political conventions and shine the spotlight on issues of pressing relevance, such as gender identity, aesthetics and representation.... read the rest of the article»

The exhibition unfolds across 14 rooms, remaining discreetly embedded within their original layout and thus effectively forming a museum within a museum, where Francesco Vezzoli's works build on Carlo Scarpa's own interior designs.

The encounter between art history and contemporary culture is evident from the very beginning of the exhibition, which opens with Casino (Giotto, Wynn And Warhol Were Gamblers) (2024) where the artist embroiders tears taken from Steve Wynn's portrait of Andy Warhol on a detail of Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel in Padova, thereby questioning the relation between the artist and the patron, as well as bringing into Venice a sign from a nearby monument. The dialogue continues in works such as Retorica Della Retorica (2013), where the artist reproduces a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi and adds a homage to Josef Albers and Natalia Goncharova, thus conflagrating classical and modern ideals, and Portrait Of Carlo Scarpa As Doge Leonardo Loredan (After Giovanni Bellini, Andy Warhol And Giotto) (2024), in which Carlo Scarpa's face is superimposed on Giovanni Bellini's portrait of Doge Loredan, weaving together a web of signifiers.

The artistic tradition surrounding the concept of sacredness is explored in works such as Crying Portrait Of A Renaissance Madonna With Holy Child (2010). Here, the features of Renaissance Madonnas by Cima da Conegliano and Giovanni Bellini, present in the rooms of the museum, are replaced by contemporary faces and enriched with tears inspired by artists such as Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein, reframing the concept of veneration.

The modern culture which reinvented Venice as a cultural destination is referred to in Le Gant D'amour (2010), which recalls Francesco Vezzoli's performance in Los Angeles to honour the founder of the Russian Ballets Sergei Diaghilev with pop star Lady Gaga and the Bolshoi Ballet, and Gala As Sylvia In La Dolce Vita (2006), a tribute to the Italian cinema of Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini. The exhibition also include iconic works by the artist such as La Nascita Di American Gigolò (2014) and Homage To Robert Mapplethorpe (2006) which further reveal the artist's reflection on time, past, present, and contemporary through portraits and references to pop and film culture.

Francesco Vezzoli sees the creation of his embroidered works as a private and intimate practice that allows him to challenge normative notions of masculinity and femininity. In this exhibition, he brings it into conversation with canonical art history, fostering a different experience of heritage and of our time. With Musei delle Lacrime, Francesco Vezzoli explores the marriage of modern and contemporary works of art, blending historical elements with contemporary and popular references and creating a new narrative that reflects on the essence of Venice as a city permeated by the dialogue between past and present.

The exhibition is completed by a conceptual piece, an original audio guide written and narrated by the artist, which accompanies the visitor along the exhibition route, expanding into an interpretation on the works of art on view and enriching them with stories, food for thought and personalised suggestions. The installation elements of the exhibition were designed by Filippo Bisagni.

Francesco Vezzoli says: "The extraordinary opportunity presented to me by the Venice International Foundation is a challenge that I am profoundly happy to embrace. Immersing oneself in the rooms of the Museo Correr with its masterpieces embedded in the framework designed by Carlo Scarpa, is a true journey into the history of Venice – a history in which modern and heritage do not have to contradict one another, but can actually enrich together our perception of life in ground-breaking ways, in which issues of taste and context can be questioned anew. Musei delle Lacrime is conceived as an investigation into the tears lost in the history of art. From Roman frescos to 20th century avant-garde – both present in Venetian art history - the human body has been represented and studied in every possible way. After some extensive research, I realized that you can find all kinds of activities and expressions of feelings, apart from the act of crying. Tears are remarkably absent from the visual universe of art, they are a sign of weakness, which we do not want the public image of art to be. Art can be intimate, like my gesture of embroidery, it can change our lives. That is what museums show, and I am thrilled to continue this journey in Venice, at Museo Correr."

Biographies 
Francesco Vezzoli, one of Italy's most renowned contemporary artists, has developed a body of work spanning intense allegories on contemporary culture. Using various media, including video installations, embroidery, photography, live performances, and more recently classical sculpture, Vezzoli has gained global recognition. He has participated four times in the Venice Biennale and exhibited in major international events such as the Whitney Biennial and the São Paulo Biennale. His solo exhibitions have been hosted by prestigious institutions such as the New Museum in New York and the Tate Modern in London. Vezzoli has collaborated with illustrious personalities, including Lady Gaga and Natalie Portman, and in 2017 curated the exhibition "TV70: Francesco Vezzoli looks at RAI" at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. In recent years, he has undertaken projects connecting his work to works, historical sites, and Italian monuments, collaborating with institutions such as the Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples and the Archaeological Park of Brescia. In 2019, Francesco Vezzoli held a solo exhibition at the Collection Lambert en Avignon, creating a dialogue between his sculptures and Cy Twombly's works inspired by Roman antiquity. He then exhibited for the first time in an archaeological site with the exhibition "Archaeological Stages," in collaboration with the Fondazione Brescia Musei. In 2021, in the "Francesco Vezzoli in Florence" project, he created two site-specific sculptures: in Piazza della Signoria, the work "PIETÀ", a 20th-century rampant lion crushing a Roman head, and "THE MUSE OF ARCHEOLOGY CRIES" in the Studiolo of Francesco I de' Medici at Palazzo Vecchio, combining a Roman togaed figure with a "metaphysical" bronze head, paying homage to de Chirico. The idea of a new project for the city of Venice emerges as a natural continuation and completion of a long discourse of archaeology, memory, and contemporary invention, further explored in the recent exhibition VITA DVLCIS: Fear and Desire in the Roman Empire at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, in 2023.

Donatien Grau is an editor, scholar, and museum executive. He began collaborating with Francesco Vezzoli in 2009, writing for Francesco Vezzoli's catalogue of his performance with Lady Gaga at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Ever since, they have remained in close conversation, collaborating in particular on "Huysmans critique d'art, sous le regard de Francesco Vezzoli", at the musée d'Orsay where Grau was in charge of contemporary programs. He is now head of contemporary programs at the Louvre in Paris, as well as editor-in-chief and artistic director of the newly founded Alphabet Magazine and chairman of the Pierre Guyotat Estate. His academic work on museums has led to publications such as Living Museums (Hatje Cantz, 2020) and Under Discussion. The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty, 2021).

Venice International Foundation - https://venicefoundation.org/it/home/
Founded in 1996, the Venice International Foundation (VIF) was the first example in Italy of private fundraising for public museums. Acting as a cultural enterprise and a laboratory of ideas, VIF supports historical, artistic, and scientific projects, engaging patrons and enthusiasts of art, history, and the environment to safeguard, acquire, and enhance the historical and artistic heritage of museums. The new structure of the Venice International Foundation embodies its vocation to reinvent itself. It is a framework where ideas circulate freely to formulate intentions and projects for variable time frames. The Venice International Foundation defines a communication and fundraising strategy aimed at ensuring broad participation in its initiatives, to establish a new connection between its supporters and the city, emphasizing the social value of a contribution intended to support a heritage that belongs to everyone. Among the latest projects promoted and realized by the Venice International Foundation in Venice are the restoration of Giambattista Tiepolo's painting "La Nobiltà e la Virtù abbattono l'ignoranza" preserved at Ca' Rezzonico, the recovery of the interiors of the Palazzo Fortuny museum, the restoration of the gilding on the ceiling of Palazzo Ducale, and the restoration of the mosaic on the dome of the Basilica di San Marco. Luca Bombassei has been the President of the Venice International Foundation since 2020. Thanks to his visionary leadership, looking into the realms of architecture, design, and contemporary art, VIF increasingly engages in dialogue with new interdisciplinary areas. An architect by training and a talented professional, Bombassei brings with him a notable academic and professional background. He lives and works between Milan and Venice, leaving an indelible mark through his projects in both cities. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Innovation District Kilometro Rosso in Bergamo, where he has been leading the project coordination since 2005. His approach to design and architecture is characterized by a unique vision of spaces, transforming them into true narrative stages, and surfaces that become magical and surreal expressions. An innovative aesthetic that challenges the boundaries of reality, enhanced by his constant dialogue between contemporary art and the historical architectures that surround him.

Museo Correr - https://correr.visitmuve.it/
The Museo Correr is part of the network of the 11 Musei Civici di Venezia. Thanks to the multiplicity and richness of its collections, the museum preserves and illustrates the civilisation, millenary history and art of Venice: an enthralling itinerary-story that starts from the Napoleonic Wing at the end of St. Mark's Square, formerly the heart of the 19th-century Palazzo Reale and now the solemn entrance to the Museum, and develops over two floors of the Procuratie Nuove. Born from the collection that the Venetian patrician Teodoro Correr left to the city in 1830, then uninterruptedly and generously enriched; the Royal Palace of Venice, with the sumptuous rooms of the Napoleonic Wing and the recently "rediscovered" and restored flats of the Royal Rooms; Antonio Canova, with the works of the great sculptor most intimately linked to the city; History and Civilisation of Venice: The State, the Institutions, the City, the Arts of the Serenissima; the Correr Picture Gallery and Art Collections, illustrating the path and influences of art between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance with masterpieces by the great masters: Paolo and Lorenzo Veneziano, Cosmè Tura, Jacopo, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, Antonello da Messina Vittore Carpaccio to name but a few. A rich and articulated itinerary that, thanks to the "Area Marciana" integrated tour mode including a visit to the Doge's Palace, is enriched and completed in the adjacent National Archaeological Museum and the monumental rooms of the Marciana National Library.

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Title: Francesco Vezzoli. Musei delle Lacrime

Opening: April 17, 2024

Ending: November 24, 2024

Organization: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Venice International Foundation

Curator: Donatien Grau

Place: Venezia, Museo Correr

Address: P.za San Marco, 52 - 30124 Venezia

Visiting hours: every day 10 am-6 pm 



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