Venice, Paradise of Cities at Cooper Gallery, BarnsleySara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Weren’t quite able to make it over to Venice this summer? Us neither. But while you may still have to travel to see the Biennale, the city itself is far less of a journey away than you might think. It’s only down the road, in fact, in Barnsley. To mark the 200-year anniversary of the Victorian art critic and artist John Ruskin’s birth, Cooper Gallery is launching Venice, Paradise of Cities – an exhibition that celebrates the magical city through the work of the countless artists that have fallen prey to its spell over the centuries.
an exhibition that celebrates the magical city through the work of the countless artists that have fallen prey to its spell over the centuries
Ruskin was so entranced by the floating former republic that he spent over three decades depicting its beauty through hundreds of sketches and paintings and writing about its remarkable art and architecture in his major three-volumes treatise The Stones of Venice. His great friend, the Romantic painter JMW Turner, also visited on numerous occasions and his pioneering handling of the city’s unique light through luminous watercolours continues to shape and inspire the popular imagination today.
Turner and Ruskin were far from the first to depict Venice, however. Turner’s vision was particularly shaped by the legendary work of the born-and-bred 18th century Venetian artist Canaletto, whose masterful paintings are among the exhibition’s star attractions. More recent representations will be on display too, including a series of 20th century experimental works.
Venice, Paradise of Cities tells the story of Venice through the eyes of the artists who painted some of its most iconic scenes
Altogether, Venice, Paradise of Cities tells the story of Venice through the eyes of the artists who painted some of its most iconic scenes – from views of the Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco, to the famous Grand Canal. Today, thanks to pollution and mass tourism (key themes in this year’s Biennale), the UNESCO city may not be quite what it once was, yet its charm still remains. Cooper Gallery’s new exhibition represents a rare opportunity to witness Venice through multiple accounts from across the years, and to travel abroad without even going near a boat or plane. Eco-tourism in action.