20 – Fondazione Vedova
20 – Fondazione Vedova, has its main aim to promote the work of Venetian artist, Emilio Vedova, is located on the Zattere.
Fondazione Emilio and Annabianca Vedova, close to the Salute church and overlooking the wide Guidecca Canal, are the two Foundation’s exhibition spaces: the “Magazzino del Sale” and the “Spazio Vedova”.
Emilio Vedova (1919 – 2006), was a politically engaged Venetian artist, who believed that revolutionary art had to be abstract. He is regarded as one of the most influential Italian artists of the second half of the 20th century.
The Foundation follows the Venetian artist’s desire, to stress how the “safekeeping and conservation” of his works should be linked to “initiatives”, to promote knowledge about his art; in collaboration with emerging and established artists and major international institutions. These initiatives should be directed at exploring the themes of “painting–space–time–history“; which are the fundamental elements of his art and commitment.
The spaces are equipped with the latest technology for conserving and displaying his art and that of other artists; to create a dialogue with Vedova’s works.
> Foundation for the late Venetian Artist, Emilio Vedova and his wife Annabianca
> Wonderful setting on the Zattere, near the Salute Church and overlooking the Guidecca Canal
> Two exhibition and event spaces, in adapted historic salt warehouses
> Rotating exhibitions year round of Vedova’s art and invited artists
> Cost: €8,00 (adults), €6,00 (reduced)
> Suggested duration: 1 – 2 hours
EMILIO VEDOVA AND THE “MAGAZINNI DI SALE” AND “SPAZIO VEDOVA”
In Jacopo de’ Barbari’s famous map, from 1500, one can see close to the eastern tip of the Dorsoduro peninsular; a huge complex of nine low structures. These were Venice’s salt warehouses, established in the 14th century. (the facade however, is from the 1830’s.)
A common way to preserve foodstuffs was to cure, or pack them in salt and since preserved foods were essential for ocean voyages, salt was crucial to maritime commerce. By controlling the salt trade, Venice effectively helped to control the seas for centuries.
They are not well known, compared to the city’s other magnificent architectural structures, designed by famous architects of the past.
These buildings, on the other hand, were monuments to the economic power and the trading reach of Venice and to the labour of the masses that made them possible. In fact, having to do with salt; they were perfectly designed; with a view to function. They reflected the “working life” of Venice.
Vedova, had one of the warehouses as his studio – the centre of his life in Venice at the time.
In 1973, the City Council, voted unanimously demolish these structures and build a swimming pool complex. Following Vedova’s natural inclination, to rally against injustice and abuses of power, he headed up a significant protest movement, which divided Venetian opinion; as to preservation of the halls against a leisure sport lobby. Eventually by direct intervention at a council meeting, the protectionists won the day.
Following this, the Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, created by the artist and his wife; acquired another section of the warehouse complex. They commissioned renowned architect Renzo Piano, to design and install the new exhibition space.
The Magazinni di Sale. The existing interior of the building was respected, with no alterations envisaged to the original brick walls or the roof trusses; while the stone paving was overlaid with a platform of larch planking.
The space was equipped with the latest technology, for conserving and showing works of art to the public and is quite remarkable. Essentially, the hall is divided into the main exhibition space and at the rear; a storage/archive area.
Art is hung on the walls, however, there is another ingenious display system. On the ceiling trusses, in the middle of the space; is a rail system. Using a robotised mechanical system, suspended artwork on a frame, is loaded onto the system in the storage area and then moved along the truss railing; into the main exhibition space. In amongst the visitors, the art is suspended and can be withdrawn and replaced, with new works! Since Emilio’s death in 2006, the Foundation have remained true to his artistic philosophy and principals.
Spazio Vedova. In June 2010, the Foundation started the restoration of the artist’s original studio, at Dorsoduro 50. It was the last large studio Emilio worked in, from the mid-1970s onwards.
Again under the supervision of Renzo Piano, it provided a multifunctional space able to host exhibitions and events. Again, the hall was divided into an exhibition space at the front and a storage/archive area at the rear.
The repurposing of the buildings is fitting, now that the one of the city’s most precious commodity is art.
20 – Fondazione Vedova – Emilio Vedova Biography
Emilio Vedova, (1019 – 2006)was a politically engaged Venetian artist, who believed that revolutionary art had to be abstract. He is regarded as one of the most influential Italian artists of the second half of the 20th century.
Born in Venice on the 9th August, 1919, into a working-class artisan family; he was the third of seven children. by the age of eleven, he was forced to earn a living; first in a factory and then in the studios of a photographer and restorer. He briefly took evening classes at the Scuola dei Carmini
He began working as an artist, towards the end of the 1930’s. Largely self-taught, he learned to draw and paint by sketching Venetian churches and frescoes, particularly those of Tintoretto; who was a key inspiration to the artist throughout his career. However, in 1937, he painted on raw canvass a reflection of his naked body in a mirror on the floor. It was to be one of the rawest and most visceral portraits of that time.
During the WW2, he mostly worked away from Venice, in Rome and Milan. In 1942, he joined the anti-Novecento art movement, “Corrente”. As an Anti-fascist, he took part in the Resistance from 1944 to 1945 and in 1946 in Milan, he joined those signing the “Oltre Guernica” manifesto; which urged artists to engage with reality while moving beyond figuration. His expressive strokes and smears of paint, convey a raw and violent reaction to the political reality of the post-war period. He pushed painting into new territories, with his visceral and gestural works; that engage the viewer and redefine the space they inhabit. In the same year, he co-founded the “Nuova Secessione Italiana“, later known as “Fronte Nuovo delle Arti“.
From the 1940’s, he began exhibiting in solo shows and collectives and soon gained international renown. The Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York, dedicated a show to him in 1951.
In the late 1950’s, Vedova was associated with French “Informel” and later with “Action” painting and the resurgence of expressionism; yet he has always defied categorisation.
Although Vedova split his time, between Venice and Berlin for many years; his work remained anchored in the city of his birth and its painting traditions. His paintings from the 1950’s and 1960’s, were sensitive to contemporary political developments; such as Franco’s nationalist regime in Spain and the revolutionary protests across Europe in 1968.
Inspired by a three-month trip to Mexico, at the beginning of the decade; Vedova’s works from the 1980’s, reveal the influence of the country’s vast landscapes and monumental, richly coloured murals. The artist introduced an explosion of colour into his palette, that enlivened the graphic contrasts, between black and white.
He engaged increasingly with the exploration of existential questions, using gestural abstraction as a vehicle for expressing the complexity of lived human experience.
In later years, he experimented with diverse media on a large scale, incorporating light, glass and metal into complex works, that activate the surrounding space; such as his hinged sculpture-paintings.
Vedova made his debut at the Venice Biennale in 1948 and from that point onwards; would become a regular exhibitor.
In 1952, he had a room devoted to his work and in 1960, he won the prize for Italian painting and in 1997, the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. He was the Italian representative at the first “documenta 7” in Kassel in 1955 and his work was exhibited there again in 1959, 1964 and 1982.
He was also a dedicated arts educator, teaching at the Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst, Berlin (1963–65); the Internationale Sommerakademie, Salzburg (1965–69, 1988) and the Accademia di Belle Art, Venice (1975–86); as well as lecturing in the USA in 1965 and 1983.
His work has been exhibited at major institutions, including the Arnulf Rainer Museum, Baden (2020); Palazzo Reale, Milan (2019); Centre Pompidou-Metz (2019); Museo Novecento, Florence (2018); and Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg (2016).
The Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, created by the artist and his wife, continues to promote his life and legacy; highlighting Vedova’s importance in the history of 20th-century art.
He died on the 25th October, 2006. His wife Annabianca, pre-deceased him by one month.
<<< He remained to the end, a left-wing icon: the bearded and bespectacled hero, of radicle Italian art >>>
LINKS (internal – external)
ZATTERE, DORSODURO 42
TEL. 041 5226626
ZATTERE, DORSODURO 50
TEL. 041 2410833
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20 – Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova (not linked)
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20 – Fondazione Vedova 20 – Fondazione Vedova;