Ca' Pesaro

Ca' Pesaro

THE SPIRIT OF KLIMT: Galileo Chini, Vittorio Zecchin and major decoration cycles in Venice


Ca’ Pesaro, International Gallery of Modern Art
From March 31st to July 8th 2012

On the occasion of the major exhibition Gustav Klimt, nel segno di Hoffmann e della Secessione, celebrating in Italy the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt’s birth and held at the Correr Museum, the International Gallery of Modern Art, Ca’ Pesaro will be presenting an exhibition dedicated to the influence of the great Austrian painter on Italian art in the early 20th century, culminating with the 1910 Venice Biennale, at which Klimt was present with a room to himself. The exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro, where since 1910 it has been possible to admire one of Klimt’s greatest masterpieces, the well-known Judith, purchased at that Biennale, will focus on the presentation of two important decorative cycles that were much influenced by the presence of the Austrian artist in Venice in 1910: Vittorio Zecchin’s Le mille e una notte and Galileo Chini’s Primavera.

The canvases by the Murano-born artist were painted in 1914 to decorate the dining room of the Hotel Terminus in Venice. The cycle, which was subsequently dismembered, is today considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Liberty style(as Art Nouveau is known in Italy) in Venice; six canvases of the twelve known are conserved at Ca’ Pesaro and will be displayed in the exhibition.

In the same year, Antonio Fradeletto commissioned the decoration for the central Salon of the Biennale’s Palazzo dell’Esposizione from Galileo Chini, intended to host the personal exhibition of Ivan Meštrović, and works by other artists. After refreshing the architectural lines of the room, the Florentine artist painted the eighteen panels of the cycle, of which he himself spoke in the Exhibition catalogue: “I have sought to stimulate and spread […] a sense of calm joy through a decorative form of painting that would blend in harmonious simplicity and balance with an equally spare architecture”. The panels to be presented at Ca’ Pesaro come from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna di Roma, which conserves the nucleus of greatest importance. Thanks to the valuable collaboration of the Museo di Valle Giulia and of the Museo Boncompagni, the museum deputed to the conservation of the cycle and venue for the exhibition in September, it has become possible to take a fresh look at an episode of great significance for the history of early 20th-century Italian art, in the light of the influence and ideas of the great Gustav Klimt. Although very different in culture, style and level of fortune critique, in these two contemporary cycles Chini and Zecchin reacted simultaneously to the stimulus offered by the exhibition of 22 works by Klimt at the IXth Venice Biennale. And they both translated this influence into works of great decorative impact intended for public enjoyment, albeit marked by the different nature of the commission: a private one for Zecchin, and a wholly public one for Chini.


Co-production by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna di Roma
Curators: Gabriella Belli, Silvio Fuso, Maria Stella Margozzi, Matteo Piccolo
Scientific coordination: Silvio Fuso