Monday Inspiration: Venice

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The Grand Canal, autumn 2006.

Is it just me or is everything coming up Venice?

During a trip to Madison this fall, I spent time admiring the Museum of Contemporary Art. An exhibit by printmaker Warrington Colescott especially intrigued me.

Colescott traveled to Venice in 1970 to retrace the novella Death in Venice. He created a livre d’artiste, or portfolio of original works, as a personal response to the 1912 book by Thomas Mann. Colescott’s vivid etchings and prints depict an eerie network of Venetian waterways and lurid faces.

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Warrington Colescott, ‘Death in Venice: Piazza San Marco,’ 1971. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
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Warrington Colescott, ‘Death in Venice: Dark Gondola,’ 1971. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

After leaving the museum, I picked up a copy of Death in Venice on a dusty shelf at Paul’s Bookstore. I absorbed the story of an aging, fastidious author who embraces travel to encounter sensual self-discovery. Mann’s lyrical writing includes great musings on travel, like the one above.

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Perhaps I already had Venice on my mind, but this photograph caught my eye just last week at the Art Institute’s pictorialism exhibit. It captures Venice as seen from Lido, the sandbar outside of the city where much of Mann’s story takes place. I imagine this view is similar to what Mann’s main character, Aschenbach, would have seen from his hotel on the Lido.

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James Craig Annan, ‘Venice from Lido,’ c. 1894. Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Have you ever traveled as a vehicle for self-discovery? Where do you head for the fabulously different?

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