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Visual Passions, Hidden Treasures

A new exhibition in the heart of Venice offers an unprecedented look at the work of one of the country’s most innovative sculptors

Visual Passions, Hidden Treasures

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Venice is a city of treasures. Spectacular domed cathedrals dot the cityscape, historic bell towers pierce the skies, and elegant palazzi preside over the iconic canals, running like veins through a city of bridges and islands. Yet not all Venice’s treasures are architectural — a new exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection explores the city’s treasures of the more artistic, sculptural kind.

Until 1 May, the gallery, standing on the banks of the Grand Canal, welcomes Marino Marini. Visual Passions — offering a close look at some of revered sculptor Marino Marini’s celebrated works. Having already toured the Palazzo Fabroni in Pistoia, over 50 of Marini’s sculptures are now on show at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Within the subdued, intimate rooms of the gallery, visitors will be able to draw their own comparisons between Marini’s work and the other pieces on display, which span various periods in history, from antiquity through to the modern era. For the eagle-eyed art aficionado, particularly interesting are the similarities between Marini’s pieces and the Italian tradition of plastic craft, from which Marini drew much inspiration for his distinctive sculptures.

More of Marini’s muses can be seen at the exhibition, where his fascination with the female nude as an art form becomes clear. The Pomonas room celebrates the feminine form, and Marini’s drawings take a classic approach, similar to French sculptor Auguste Rodin. While many of Marini’s contemporaries veered away from this style in the ‘40s, Marini bucked the trend and revisited it, producing a stunning array of drawings that turn the female body into an abstract art form, inspired by the figures and shapes of Etruscan and Northern European sculpture.

Elsewhere, the exhibition also reveals how Marini was inspired by the theme of ‘horse and rider.’ The hugely successful and valuable works belonging to his collection are spread throughout three rooms, but his pièce de résistance is The Angel of the City, exploring the unique relationship between man and beast. It broods grandly over the Grand Canal beside the gates to the gallery, positioned there by Peggy Guggenheim herself. The original plaster sculpture was acquired by Peggy in 1948, before Marini cast the minimalist sculpture in bronze around 1950, just in time for the Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition held in the grounds.

Located in the heart of the city, this unique exhibition — the first retrospective dedicated to Marino Marini — is not to be missed. Venice’s churches, bridges, squares and palaces aside, the city has plenty more treasures to behold.

Marino Marini. Visual Passions at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, runs from 27 January to 1 May. For more information, visit guggenheim-venice.it.