Exhibition | Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 3, 2013

Press release (6 June 2013) from the MMFA:

Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaisance to Baroque in the Serenissima
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 12 October 2013 — 19 January 2014
Portland Art Museum, 15 February — 11 May 2014

Curated by Hilliard T. Goldfarb


Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Minuet (detail), 1756 (Barcelona: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)

This fall the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will present an innovative interdisciplinary exhibition, exploring for the first time the important interrelationships between the visual arts and music in the Venetian Republic, from the early sixteenth century to the fall of the Serenissima at the close of the eighteenth century, a period during which these art forms served the political ambitions of the state and civic institutions and became increasingly central to the economy of the Republic.

Thanks to outstanding loans from prestigious museums and collectors, visitors to the exhibition Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaissance to Baroque in the Serenissima will discover the splendours of Venice through the musical scene: salons, the elaborate carnevale, the theatre, street performances and the festive, costumed commedia dell’arte.

Featuring approximately 120 paintings, prints and drawings, as well as historical instruments, musical manuscripts and texts, Splendore a Venezia paints a portrait of extraordinary artistic and musical creativity. This exhibition organized by the Museum brings together masterworks by many of the most renowned names associated with the city on the lagoon: visual artists directly associated with the musical life of the city include Titian, Tintoretto, Bassano, Giovanni Battista and Domenico Tiepolo, and Francesco Guardi, many of whom were also amateur musicians, as well as Bernardo Strozzi, Pietro Longhi and Canaletto, whose paintings record the role of music in Venetian life. The exhibition also includes manuscripts and publications by Venetian composers like the Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Albinoni, Lotti and Vivaldi.

Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the MMFA, said, “In keeping with the original exhibition programming we began with Warhol Live, Imagine, Miles Davis and Lyonel Feininger, music takes its place front and centre with this new MMFA production. As D’Annunzio said: “In Venice, in the same way that one cannot feel except in music, one cannot think if not in images.” That’s how it is at the MMFA, too: it is impossible to see without listening or to listen without seeing.” In a presentation that resembles the Museum’s previous multidisciplinary exhibitions, Splendore a Venezia will give visitors an opportunity to enjoy musical accompaniment related to each theme in the galleries, thus enhancing the exploration of each of these works.

Exhibition curator Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associate Chief Curator and Curator of Old Masters at the MMFA and a specialist of the Italian Renaissance, developed the concept of this original exhibition produced by the MMFA, by gaining inspiration from an idea put forward by the Musée de la musique in Paris. This exhibition will be circulated by the MMFA to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon from March 7 to June 8, 2014. The exhibition’s musical accompaniment is being overseen by musicologist François Filiatrault.

The works, on loan from prominent international collections like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, the New York Public Library, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art (Washington), the Palatine Gallery, Uffizi, Capitoline, Cini Foundation, Accademia, Museo Correr, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Gallery (London) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), and the Cité de la musique in Paris, among others. Extensive associated programming includes a series of concerts with period instruments in the MMFA’s Bourgie Hall, as well as related activities throughout the city.

The visual arts and musical scenes during the extraordinarily creative period from Titian to Guardi and Willaert to Vivaldi were profoundly interconnected. The world’s first public opera house (1639) opened in Venice, which boasted no fewer than nine commercial opera houses in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Modern music typography was invented in Venice, and it was there that the most important musical presses in Europe were located. Public musical concerts were crucial to the economic strength of Venice’s scuole (rich, powerful brotherhoods) and ospedali (establishments for the poor and orphans). Each year, a variety of processions were held in celebration of special occasions. These were recorded in the visual arts and celebrated in music, in turn serving its government, which sponsored the arts. Music and the visual arts also became central to state propaganda and the Republic’s state receptions and international profile.

The exhibition is organized along three broad conceptual themes reflecting specific, parallel and interrelated characteristics of art and music during this critical period of Venetian history: 1) Art and Music in the Public Sphere 2) Art and Music in the Private Realm 3) Art, Music and Mythology [more information about each theme is available in the press release]

To accompany the exhibition, the MMFA’s Publishing Department is co-publishing a full-colour exhibition catalogue, in English and French editions, with Hazan, Paris [Art and Music in Venice: From the Renaissance to Baroque]. The catalogue features essays by leading international experts in Venetian art, culture and music, under the general editorship of Dr. Hilliard T. Goldfarb. He is joined by a distinguished team of international cultural and musicological experts, including Tiziana Bottecchia, Dawson Carr, Francesca del Torre, Joël Dugot, Iain Fenlon, Caroline Giron, Jonathan Glixon, Sergio Guarino, Eugene Johnson, Piero Lucchi and Ellen Rosand. This publication will serve as a reference work that will make an ongoing contribution to the body of knowledge on music and the visual arts in the private and public realms of the Venetian Republic. It will be distributed internationally by Hazan (French edition) and Yale University Press (English edition).

The MMFA and the Arte Musica Foundation, in residence at the Museum, combine their expertise and resources to present about 140 concerts in the Bourgie Concert Hall each year, welcoming an average of 45,000 spectators. The exhibition presented by the MMFA is the ideal occasion to make a foray into the incredibly rich world of Venetian music. From October to January, the Arte Musica Foundation will present 20 concerts in Bourgie Hall covering five centuries of music, both instrumental and vocal, sacred, profane and traditional.

Although the exhibition focuses on the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the time limits have been pushed back to include the nineteenth century – with a literary and musical performance – and the twentieth century – with a soirée to pay tribute to two sons of Venice, Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna – and the twenty-first century – with the creation of a musical fairytale for children with giant marionettes, Le Chat et le gondolier. The concerts include majestic choral works by Monteverdi and Gabrieli performed by the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal; traditional songs for voice and lute with the Italian ensemble Accordone and the tenor Marco Beasley, who sang on the soundtrack of the film Tous les soleils; music for two organs; Italian arias and concertos performed by renowned Montreal ensembles and soloists; as well as two major works by Vivaldi; the Montreal premiere of the oratorio Juditha Triumphans with the Ensemble Caprice; and The Four Seasons with soloists and musicians from the OSM.

This exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, under the direction of Nathalie Bondil and Hilliard T. Goldfarb. METRO is the presenting sponsor of this exhibition in Montreal in collaboration with the Volunteer Association of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition has also been made possible thanks to the support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Air Canada, Astral, Richter, La Presse and The Gazette.

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Note (added 17 February 2014) — In the original version of this posting, the dates of the exhibition in Portland were mistakenly listed as 7 March — 8 June 2014. Also, in Portland, the show is entitled Venice: The Golden Age of Art and Music.

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