In a uniquely multi-sensorial, immersive experience, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has brought to its Desmarais pavilion perhaps not the taste, but certainly the sounds of Venice…
The exhibition, titled Splendore a Venezia, is entirely dedicated to art that illustrates the centrality of music to the famous Italian city. From 16th century paintings by Titian to 18th century works by Francesco Guardi, the works on the wall all portray musicians, or musical instruments, or musical patrons, or are by artists who were themselves musicians. At first it may seem like a niche theme, but by golly, this exhibition proves it was about time someone created an exhibition to unite is all.
Accompanying the visuals, there’s a soundtrack playing from room to room with classical compositions also ranging in historical periods and styles. And that’s not counting the audioguide, which has 18 pieces to listen to according to prompts on the gallery wall. With the walls painted bright colours and a contemporary Venetian twist to the interior décor, the result of all this stimulation is overwhelming at times, but in a cornucopia kind of way.
The riches on display (which include instruments galore, musical partitions and a full-scale gondola, just to set the mood) warrant at least a couple of visits. We suggest you make one tour of the show without the audioguide, and then one with – it’ll be edifying in two whole different ways. The audioguide is in fact so beautiful it’s worth listening to on its own, as one patron we spotted was doing, sitting on one of the museum’s leather upholstered benches with eyes closed and a beatific smile on his face.
Splendore a Venezia, Until January 19, 2014
Photo Credits: Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, (1697–1768), The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day, About 1745, Oil on canvas, 114.9 x 162.6 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The William L. Elkins Collection, 1924, Inv. E1924-3-48, Photo The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY
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