Monday, June 09, 2014

sleeping with peggy

I am smiling.

Now, there is some well-coiffed woman out there, who teaches at formulaic writing seminars, and is shaking her head.  “Don’t you know,” she is muttering, "effective writers never write in emotional conclusions; that is the reader’s job to work out.”

That may be true.  But I am still smiling.

The venue for this smirk is a restaurant.  A venetian restaurant.  Far enough from St. Mark’s Square to avoid the squirming tourist masses.  But close enough to the cosmopolitan flow to attract a polyglot crowd. 

The tomato-basil-scented air is filled with mellifluous Latin melodies and guttural germanic counterpoint.  It is the type of place to plot a liaison -- or the assassination of an archduke.

I am writing this now as a break between my morning of art and my evening of music.

First, the art.  It was once the property of Peggy Guggenheim.  A woman who took her support for contemporary art quite seriously.  The artists she did not wed, she usually manage to bed.

Whatever demons she sought to slay in her Jungian boudoir, she still managed to collect enough first class art to qualify as a Medici.  I think it was Samuel Beckett who convinced her that she should buy art -- from living artists.

She did.  The result is a small palace on the grand canal in Venice filled with masterpieces by Picasso, Pollack, Chagall, Calder, Duchamp, Braque, Kandinsky, Ernst, Dali, Tanguy -- well, you get the idea.  And each of them stunning in its own way.

She started collecting just as art was shifting from post-impression into cubism and then abstract expressionism.  They are all there.  The fact that they are hanging in her former home puts meat on the bones of the theory that a piece of art is not complete until it attains meaning in the eye of the viewer.

I am glad the cattle call ship tour was cancelled.  It would have been extremely frustrating to be force-marched through a collection that requires thoughtful viewing. 

I found it difficult to pull myself away to the next stunning piece.  The collection is one of those places that would merit a visit on each trip to Venice.

My favorite piece?  I don’t really have one.  But I was fascinated by this Dali.  Peggy found it horrific, but she couldn’t stop viewing it.  I understand her dilemma.

That should have been good enough for a full day.  Instead, I gambled by picking a place to eat -- and it came up aces.  Pizza is Venice is a completely new experience.

I hope I will be as lucky at the concert tonight.  A chamber orchestra (Interpreti Veneziani) is performing at a church about an hour’s walk away.  That means I need to be on my way.

By the time I get back to the ship, the internet will be shut off.  So, the next time you hear from me, I will be writing from my hotel in Venice. 

At least, I think I will.  If the hotel doesn’t have internet, there are plenty of places that do.

But before I leave, I want to doff my hat (if I wore one) to Peggy Guggenheim.  She has left us a true treasury of art.

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