VENICE.- The Fortuny Museum
presents a great exhibition to mark the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth (Leipzig, 1813 - Venice, 1883) in 2013. It is the result of lengthy studies on the influence that the German composer and the Wagnerism phenomenon had at an iconographic and aesthetic level on the visual arts in Italy from the end of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. This is the very first time this theme has been studied or been the object of an exhibition.
Wagnerism was a true cultural fashion that, in its diverse expressions (literary, musical, and painting) enjoyed widespread and profound diffusion. In the field of the visual arts it was one of the most typical manifestations of the aesthetic style at the turn of the eighteenth century, between late Naturalism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau.
The characters and vicissitudes of Wagners musical dramas (Valkyries, Nibelungs, maiden-flowers, Parsival, Siegfrieds, Tristans ...) occur repeatedly in the paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, illustrations and postcards during that period in both Italy and the rest of Europe.
In this field Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949) played a key role, as he was the author of a Wagnerian Cycle with 46 paintings (all belonging to the museum) and numerous engravings; the entire cycle is on display here for the very first time.
The Fortuny Museum is the perfect place for an exhibition like this: Spanish by birth but Venetian by adoption, Mariano Fortuny was greatly influenced by the figure of Richard Wagner who, in turn, had a very intense relationship with the city, and spent long periods of his life there.
Curated by Paolo Bolpagni, installed by Daniela Ferretti - and also made possible thanks to the collaboration with the City of Lipsia, Klinger Forum, Richard Wagner Verband Leipzig, Associazione Richard Wagner Venezia - the exhibition is in the rooms of the ground, first and second floor of Palazzo Fortuny. It includes over 150 works: paintings, engravings, drawings and sculptures, as well as a documentary section with books, magazines, illustrations and postcards.
The heart of the exhibition is the nucleus of Fortuny's works (some of which are on display for the very first time and have been restored for the occasion); they are on display with works by other Italian artists of that period (Lionello Balestrieri, Giuseppe Palanti, Cesare Viazzi, Eugenio Prati, Gaetano Previati, Alberto Martini, Adolfo Wildt
), who were inspired either by Wagner or the symbolistic and mysterious atmosphere evoked by his music.
Furthermore, the exhibition includes a rare gouache by Mario de Maria, a cartoon for the famous, lost portrait of Wagners stepdaughter, as well as the maquette of the Bayreuth Theatre made by Fortuny in 1903, which was recently restored thanks to the financial support of the Venice Foundation.
With the aim of showing the influence the Wagnerian imaginary also had on contemporary artists, the exhibition ends with a selection of other important international artists such as Joan Brossa, Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tàpies and Bill Viola.
With essays by Fabio Benzi, Paolo Bolpagni, Claudio Franzini, Adriana Guarnieri Corazzol, Philippe Junod and Quirino Principe, the Skira catalogue, in both English and Italian is edited by Paolo Bolpagni, not only documents all the works on display in the exhibition but also looks in great detail at the phenomenon of Italian Wagnerism in the visual arts, literature (for example the fundamental role of d'Annunzio), in music and culture in general.
The catalogue also has a CD, produced by Sony Classical with the pianist Orazio Sciortino, with unpublished recordings of passages of Wagners operas that were transcribed by Italian composters at the end of the nineteenth century.