Fortuny, a (living) history of art and substances that also fascinated

Fortune PalaceToday Fortune Museum – handled by Venice Civic Museums Foundation – represents an unavoidable destination for cultural tours of the lagoon. Stolen from the art public for a few years due to Acqua Granda in November 2019 damaging the ground floor rooms, it reopened last March with the installation of Pier Luigi Pizzi, Gabriella Belli, Chiara Squarcina. The house of life and the temple of the painter’s genius Mariano Fortuny and Madrazothe fifteenth-century building—originally known as Pesaro Palace in Orfei – was acquired in full by the Spanish artist i 1906 and then it became his headquarters and workshop when he was with his wife Henriette Negrinstylist and artist, decided to start the production of the precious fabrics that would make him famous.

Born in Granada in 1871 to a family of artists and intellectuals – the father Mariano Fortuny and Marshal painter, his maternal grandfather Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz director of the Museum of Prado in Madrid – Fortuny arrived at a very young age Paris and soon after, in 1889, a Venicewhere in a short time it became part of the cultured and refined enclave that in Lagunen coagulated around the most popular lounges and from ’95 until Art Biennale. The famous contacts that the young Spanish painter could enjoy photographs – many of which he signed – and documents are now exhibited in the Palazzo Fortuny following the searches in its archives – but also in chests and cupboards that have remained closed in rooms for decades – witness that they allowed the rediscovery. Among the names of the intellectuals present in Venice, close to him, the baron-collector Giorgio Franchettithe architect and the historian Pietro Selvatico, Angelo Contiofficer of Finer artthe painters Cesare Laurenti And Marius Pictor. But under the skies of the Serenissima, the artist received further artistic nourishment from fleeting encounters with personalities such as Gabriele d’Annunziowith whom he collaborated on theatrical mise en scne, the authors Marcel Proust And Hugo von Hofmannsthalthe painters Ignacio Zuloaga And Jos Maria Sert.

From the stages in Paris to the Scala

The passion for painting and the theater had been in him for some time thanks to his father’s example – Fortuny y Marsal was the author of Orientalist landscapes and copies of the highest level by Spanish and Italian masters – and through participation in the Parisian stages for which he had designed set and a revolutionary device known as Fortune Dome – exhibited in maquette at the Venetian museum – and later also used on it Teatro alla Scala. Many testimonies of his artistic inclinations can be traced today to the museum in Campo San Beneto, where among generous curtains, upholstery, sofas and cushions covered with precious fabrics and in the evocative light of silk chandeliers you can trace back the salient phases of a creative excursion which reached its peak between the two wars and ended in ’49 with the artist’s death. The halls on the first and second floors are filled with paintings by Marshal and his – including copies from Goya or from Tiepolo that imitates the father’s -; of works of art – sculptures, bronzes, armour, glass, objet de curios – including many from other Venetian museums that did not belong to Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo but correspond to his taste. The side rooms contrast with the strong interest he had in themWagnerian work; the studio, which, although transformed by the latest installation, still contains the nudes that the painter loved to practise, and the monumental plaster casts from the Parthenon frieze and from the Belvedere Torso; finally, on the side, the mural, where it depicts a lush conservatory, with allegorical female figures, exotic and grotesque animals. So an engaging dive into the world of Fortuny, which today still lives not only through the remains of the past, but also thanks to the continuity of the traditions that the artist has consecrated and today more than ever projected into the future.

The divine, the upholstery fabrics and the Riad family

His inventions had many faces – the lighting systems for the stage, already tested in Paris at the turn of the century, as well as the popular painters’ colors, called Happy temperacreated with ancient formulas – but what still keeps the artist’s fame high in the world today is substances which this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of their production. In fact, in 1922 they left the Fortuny laboratories on Giudecca, inaugurated in 1921 right next to Molino friend Gian Carlo Stucky, the first silk and cotton fabrics, printed with motifs drawn from classical antiquity, the Renaissance and the Baroque world, following techniques – still secret today – applied by hand, but on a large scale. The first ideas in the field of textiles, developed at the beginning of the twentieth century with his wife Henriettahad been designed for fashion: the dress Delphosit is the pleated silk peplum that the divine prefers Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan,Eleonora Dusebut also from socialites who Marquis of Polignac And Casatior the sumptuous shawl Knossos, to be draped over the body in the same way as the Greek women in Tanagra. But soon, with the 1920s, the couple’s interests also turned furniture fabric. Passionate admirer of the latter – in 1927 she discovered Fortuny al Muse Carnavalet of Paris and became a distributor in the USA with the brand Fortuny artistic fabrics – it was Elsie McNeill Lee, an American interior designer who thirty years later would be tasked with bringing together the company’s legacy. The passing of the baton from her to Riad familynow owner of the brand, would have happened in 1988, first in the person of Maged Riad and then, ten years later, with the children Mickey and Maury Riadtoday at the head of Fortune Venice 1921. The techniques are unchanged compared to a hundred years ago, made possible by the use of original machinery created by the artist specifically for his factory – and still used today – now also allowing us to develop new patterns, such as abstract ones, inspired by the iridescent reflections of Venetian architecture on the water, according to the spirit of the place, as the architect points out Alberto Torsello, artistic director and protagonist in activities as a result of the newly formed collaboration between the brand and Fortuny Museum, which debuts this year with a program of cultural initiatives. Among other things, the series of conferences that opened on July 15 with the appointment Architecture and light.

Openness to the present

Meanwhile, on the ground floor, contemporary artwork shines Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza di Biumo collection, received here as a donation, and to emphasize the museum’s openness to the present, a series of avant-garde art and photo exhibitions, performances and musical events are also planned in line with what Mickey Riad affirms: We look to the past to design the future. Then he adds: We also want to enter into synergy with other realities in the textile world and increasingly expand our view of culture thanks to the collaboration with the Foundation. Sensitive to fashion, Mickey, creative director, also thinks about the relaunch of the clothes that pleased him so much Proustas appears from the applause expressed by the French writer i In search of lost time about the models he discovered in his Venetian parlors and in Paris, where the Delphos models were all the rage in women’s liberated and art-friendly circles: … these Fortuny dresses, faithful to the old but extraordinarily original ….

July 26, 2022 (change July 26, 2022 | 13:09)


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