The spectacular Glory of Venice exhibition is filled with art that confirms my belief that it is one of the most beautiful cities—if not THE most beautiful—in the world. Having been lucky enough to visit Venice a few times in my life, I have always been caught up in its glamour and style. I don’t think I could ever tire of seeing its golden basilica or the bright Renaissance masterpieces scattered throughout the serene city. Heck, they don’t call it “La Serenissima” for nothing, right?
In the galleries of the Glory of Venice exhibition, which is open through June 18.
But the picture of Venice that really sticks in my imagination is a darker one. Perhaps it’s fueled by too many movies like Don’t Look Now, but I seriously love the depictions of Venice as enigmatic, shadowy, and even dangerous. And it’s easy to feel that way when you’re walking in Venice at night. Without cars or streetlights or other modern comforts, you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time and that around any given corner, you could find … anything. Your eyes start playing tricks on you as they attempt to focus through the mist and darkness. The lapping waters of the canals echo around the decaying buildings and equally confuse the mind—was that a gondola I heard? Or did someone fall into the deep, black water?
All of this lends Venice an air of inscrutability and mystery. And over time, locals and visitors alike have reveled in this sensation as fodder for myth-making and storytelling. Some stories really stick, lasting for centuries and becoming embedded into the city itself, through its buildings, monuments, and specific locations. One story, in particular, really struck me, and it’s one that I narrate in the latest installment of my personal project, the ArtCurious Podcast, wherein I explore the unexpected, the slightly odd, and the strangely wonderful in art history.
In bright daylight the Casino degli Spiriti does not appear haunted ... but curator Jennifer Dasal, who creates the podcast ArtCurious in her spare time, has some stories to tell of its darker side. Photo by Didier Descouens (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
In this episode I look at the history surrounding the Casino degli Spiriti, an old palazzo that has had plenty of legends built around it. This particular elegant structure had an illustrious past, having once been a meeting place where Italian Renaissance artists discussed their craft, caroused, and gambled. Many of the Venetian Renaissance’s best artists—including Titian and Giorgione—spent time there. But it’s also the location where relationships soured, crimes were committed, and death inevitably followed. Today, some people won’t even enter the building because it is feared to be haunted by the ghost of a mad painter named Luzzo.
Want to know more? Listen and subscribe to the ArtCurious Podcast for the whole haunting story. You can find us on iTunes, and find more information about the Casino degli Spiriti on the podcast’s website. And if you have your own creepy Venice story to share, please find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share it with us and our listeners!
Come and revel in the brilliant Glory of Venice, and then listen to ArtCurious for a different take on the most serene city.
Jennifer Dasal is the associate curator of contemporary art at the NCMA.
Leave a Comment
Don't miss a beat. Sign up to receive updates and special offers.