Of all the things I have seen in Venice, particularly in connection with the Biennale, by far the most powerful has been the installation by Axel Vervoordt in the Palazzo Fortuny on the theme of Intuition.   Ten years ago, the Palazzo Pesaro, which was left to the city of Venice by the childless Mariano Fortuny on his death in 1949, was in a state of disrepair.   Vervoordt kept its state of picturesque decay intact and this year has done a beautiful, powerful set of atmospheric installations, combining ethnographic material with contemporary art.   I have seldom seen this form of highly aestheticised, abstract display done so well, except maybe in Peter Zumthor’s Kolumba Museum in Cologne.

The displays began with a group of prehistoric monuments in a darkened room, some at least borrowed from the Soulages Museum in Rodez:-

Round a corner, there’s a recent Antony Gormley (2013) and a work by Anish Kapoor:-

Upstairs, one comes into the grand first floor salone, with views out over the roofs of Venice and a vast and atmospheric black-and-gold work by El Anatsui:-

Elsewhere in the room, there are mixed display cases, with works displayed against patterned silk:-


7 thoughts on “Intuition 

  1. Joan says:

    This looks beautiful. I have only visited the Palazzo Fortuny once, over thirty years ago when I was 21 and inter-railing around Europe with three other young women. I was fresh from a degree in textile technology and my head was full of the chemical formulas for dyestuffs and finishing techniques and calculations for warp beaming and the like. Visiting the Palazzo Fortuny and seeing those pleated dresses was made for that moment.

    Looking at your photos reminded me of the interesting section of the recent Paolozzi exhibition at the Whitechapel covering his Lost Magic Kingdoms exhibition. Given that that was at the Museum of Mankind I did wonder if you were thinking of revisiting some of its themes when you open your new building.

  2. Graeme Preedy says:

    I agree that the environment within the walls and the walls themselves of Palazzo Fortuny look beautiful. The Kolumba Museum Cologne is one of the most spiritual exhibition spaces I’ve ever seen. Have you seen Peter Zumthor’s chapel in the middle of a field too? To complete the work a fire was lit within the building in order to melt the small pieces of glass within the walls. These allow for small areas of dappled light to enter the small building..

  3. Jamie Seaton says:

    Have you seen Axel Verwoordt’s place outside Antwerp, a cavernous 20thC grain warehouse on the shipping canal? I think you’d like it.

  4. Christopher Nevile says:

    I think A V and M F have a deal uncommon. I am also sure that a dinner party given for their friends and supporters would be the party of the century! I get the sense that neither man was (or is ) prepared to be pigeonholed and both seem to be driven by an extraordinary “eye” and a a fascination with structure and process and a blissful disregard for commerce as we are taught it. Perhaps it is this which allows them to show us the Grail in a few of its forms. AV is an Antique Dealer ….like Kent was a ‘Decorator’

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