New frontiers of museum exhibitions. “Magister Canova”, the exhibition on Antonio Canova, held in Venice at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia from June 16th to November 22nd, 2018, will offer a new and even more enthralling way to enjoy the work of this great neoclassical artist.
They are called “immersive exhibitions” – art exhibitions where, thanks to the contribution of new multimedia technology, the visitor has the chance to take a walk down an interactive path. Through the use of high-definition screens and audio support, we dive into in the life of the artist, personal events, stylistic characteristics and anecdotes from their career and life. It is an experience in which the fruition of the artwork takes place through different channels: visual, acoustic, and sometimes even tactile.
And this was the organizational approach to the exhibition on the great Venetian neoclassical artist.
The narrating voice is that of Adriano Giannini, with background music by Giovanni Sollima. The texts, accompanied by the reading of some of Canova’s letters, are quite scientific, having been entrusted to a prestigious committee of experts. The multimedia exhibition is the work of Luca Mazzieri, a director specialized in art films.
There are also original works – in fact, the exhibit has a section of anatomy drawings. These are works from the artist’s youth, testimony of that obligatory passage, which for all artists was the study of the human body.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the exhibition is dedicated to this great artist, who in the past had actually been quite neglected. The cultural work is part of the reawakening of interest in the last few years created around this personality, as highlighted by the numerous exhibitions recently dedicated to him. After all, the artist, who worked between the 18th and 19th centuries, offers interesting food for thought in troubled times like ours.
Canova lived in times of profound upheaval. The Napoleonic campaigns, where the general arrived as a representative of the French Republic, bearer of those ideals of democracy and freedom of the French Revolution, however also of disappointments for the horrible betrayal when political demands led Napoleon to surrender the Venetian Republic to the Austrians. Lastly, the artist saw the transformation of the new man into an emperor, yet another betrayal. In all these changes, Canova always remained faithful to himself.
Canova was quite critical of Napoleon, always maintaining his free-thinking, even when under political pressure. In 1802, he went to Paris to perform a portrait of Napoleon. Despite all the flattery of the emperor, he never accepted to reside permanently at the court of the “great Corsican”. Even the intervention of a Pope, Sixtus VII, was necessary in ordrto “convince him” to accept the assignment. This “autonomous” observatory allowed him to censor the dispossession of artistic assets made by the French, also providing financial support to those artists who had been placed in a difficult situation following these historical events.
Moreover, Canova was fare from the idea of an artist who, isolated in an ivory tower, reproduced – in a cold and sterile manner – outdated classical aesthetic models. On the contrary, he entered the political and artistic debate of the time, taking clear and precise positions, rejecting, with a courage that others did not have, honours and money in the name of his dignity and autonomy of thought. Furthermore, his art, as in the best neoclassical tradition, was no sterile imitation of the past.
After the excesses of the Baroque and Rococo, expressions of the noble and despotic system of the Ancien Régime, he would find in classic style those lessons of rationality and harmony that mankind desperately seeks in times of crisis. For him, Classic is a reference to reason and harmony, an aesthetic ideal of beauty that arises from a harmonious balance between various parts where no single aspect prevails over others. This was a mirror of a moral order where reason, rather than arbitrariness or arrogance, would regulate relationships – a great moral lesson.
The exhibition is part of a trilogy designed by Cose Belle d’Italia Media Entertainment [Beautiful things of Italy, Media Entertainment]. The first exhibition on Giotto has already taken place, while the final show on Raphael is scheduled for next year.