From Venetian Canals to NOLA’s Canal Street
NOMA set to close out its successful Venice exhibit
Water is a unifying force, yet one that can divide people both geographically and politically. Trade, culture, religion and food ways have all been transmitted via waterborne voyages for millennia. As a port city for nearly 300 years, we understand this intimately in New Orleans. Add another one thousand years of existence, and we may see ourselves as the Venetians did in the 1700s.
“A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s” is a special exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) on view through this weekend. Open since February, this collection of art and cultural objects will close May 21. NOMA is the exclusive venue in the United States presenting this exhibition and it is not to be missed. Objects have been specifically chosen to provide a glimpse into the pageantry, ceremony and extravagance of Venetian life in the 1700s, and correlations to New Orleans cultural practices are drawn throughout.
“It is with great pleasure that NOMA brings this remarkable exhibition to our public. Venice is presented through an elegant, multi-disciplinary installation featuring an exceptional selection of objects, costumes and paintings that illuminate an extraordinary time in the history of Venice,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director.
“A Life of Seduction” illuminates 18th century Venetian life during the time of Casanova, Canaletto, Goldoni and Vivaldi, not to mention the myriad artisans and culture bearers who made the opulence and ceremonial festivities possible, giving Venice a lasting reputation as a cultural mecca.
Visitors to the exhibition will see specimens including 300-year old carnival masks, costumes and robes, shoes, handbags and regal glass objects displayed among paintings by Canaletto, Guardi and Longhi.
“A significant strength of this exhibition is its historical and cultural point of view and the distinctive range of objects that tell the story,” said NOMA Curator Vanessa Schmid.
The city’s famous gondolas are represented in exquisite miniature models. Even the theater and opera are included in the collection with the presence of a full-scale puppet theater which was lent by the Casa Goldoni of Venice especially for this exhibition.
Much as the Mississippi River is omnipresent in depictions of New Orleans, the presence of water and Venice’s canals can be seen in paintings like “Bird’s Eye View” and “Allegory of the Triumph of Venice.”
“It is our hope that visitors will be inspired by the focus on festivals, pageantry and ceremony that present parallels between Venice and New Orleans,” said Taylor.
While the price of admission is always worth it, those on a tighter budget may want to visit NOMA Thursday, May 18. All visitors qualify for free admission in conjunction with the Association of Art Museum Directors’ Art Museum Day. This year’s theme is “Art Museums Foster Vibrant Communities,” and museums throughout North America are participating.
Wednesdays are free admission for Louisiana residents, and through the end of this year teenagers (ages 13-19) are free daily, both courtesy of The Helis Foundation.
NOMA is open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjoining Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.