Friday, July 15, 2011

Boldini e la Belle Epoque at the Como Villa Olmo

We continued walking along the lake shore and saw a few boat garages.

There were also many nice views and houses with interesting architecture.

A Boldini exhibit was being held at the Como Villa Olmo. 

The legendary period of the Belle Époque is interwoven with the works of the talent that was Giovanni Boldini. The creative energy and optimism that revolutionised the story of the fin de siècle were boldly marked by his fluent and unmistakeable brushstrokes that expressed both beauty and joie de vivre.

At that time literature and fashion, music and luxury, art and bistro culture came together to the sensual sound and rhythm of the can-can in what was an extraordinary social and civil renaissance. Paris was the at the heart of this international cultural experience but the whole phenomenon also spread to other European capitals and to the elegant world of the Italian cities, with Milan, Venice, Naples and Florence at the forefront. At this time technology was revolutionising the ways people lived, creating prosperity and a sense of individual well-being such as had never been experienced before. Customs were changing and the sensual attraction of woman in society was affirmed with an awareness that her charms were on display outside of the domestic environment, mirroring her increasingly social role.

It was during this unrepeatable period of euphoria that the young painter Giovanni Boldini left his home town of Ferrara for Florence in 1864 and hence onward by way of London to Paris, where he was treated like a star due to his ability to create wonderful portraits of the celebrities of the day, with his immense popularity even reaching America. His aristocratic manners, his vocation for high society, his numerous amorous liaisons and his being regularly seen in all the best places in bourgeois society made him a real point of reference of a significant group of artists.

The exhibition at Villa Olmo not only presents a fine selection of Boldini’s masterpieces, which assumed a central role in the birth of avant-garde of the Macchiaioli group, but also examines his relationship with other talented Italian artists such as Giuseppe De Nittis, sublime interpreter of refined and metropolitan elegance, Federico Zandomeneghi, whose introspective tensions bring his work close to that of the French impressionists, and Vittorio Corcos, who brought the timeless magnetism of the feminine world to his canvasses.

I liked the art but the mood beforehand had been somewhat dampened.  Before going in to the exhibit, they wanted us to give them our entire bag with everything in it (passport, wallet, phones, cameras, etc).  This was unreasonable and ridiculous.  When I wouldn't hand over my purse, they let us know that we had the option of putting valuables into a small see-through plastic bag that we could carry around.  Well this was pretty much everything in my purse!  Of course tourists have so many things when traveling.  So of course my things didn't fit in their little plastic bag and it was overflowing and very awkward to be carrying around in the exhibition with everything we own visible to whoever.  I really didn't understand this since this is Italy and I thought things were chill and because this is Italy, valuables should be well-hidden in tourist areas.

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