Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

Tag: Palazzo Grassi

inspiration #28 : Farhad Moshiri.

life is beautiful


“Life is Beautiful”, Farhad Moshiri.

I saw this installation last January in Venice at Palazzo Grassi and it literally changed my life.  ok, that’s kind of extreme, but I was having one of those moments–wandering through Venice alone, in the cold and fog, spending the day just looking at art–and it struck me, incredibly deeply, how brilliant this piece is.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.  spelled out in knives.

I could say something pretentious about art and edges, but I won’t.

during their difficult mini-holiday in Venice, Francesca and Selim go to Palazzo Grassi and see this installation, and Selim buys the picture postcard in the museum gift shop to send to her later.  for me, the combination of the knives and the idea of life being beautiful–which it is, you know it is, but it’s something so fraught for Francesca at this moment–the symbolism is so horribly significant, and so true.



inspiration #14 : a diary excerpt.

18 Jan 12

The Veneto today is an icy kingdom.

Palazzo Grassi — the room with the gunpowder trees and moon — “Life is Beautiful” in knives — El Anatsui — art, fog, cold, the sea — why I love Venice.  I’m drinking Valpolicella at Muro with a beautiful golden retriever.  The people next to me are drinking Aperol spritzes.  It’s cold here like I’ve never known, a damp, penetrating cold.  It doesn’t really matter — in a way, it’s nice.  I bought a beret in a shop, gloves for Mom and myself, a caffe macchiato and little cookie, several art postcards, and the catalogue from the exhibit at Palazzo Grassi.  The man with the golden retriever is handsome and older; he wears a Rolex Daytona and gives treats to the dog.  The bar is getting crowded — lots of young girls, in a way that makes you think there’s a school or college nearby.  I imagine coming here with him and wandering the little streets, stopping off for aperitifs and digestifs and local specialties, tramezzini and prosecco and things neither of us have at home.  Talking about what people talk about when they hardly know each other, getting lots and buying souvenirs.  Pretending that within these canals and palazzi there is no one else.  That’s what makes it an affair, and a dream.

inspiration #10 : Venice.

image courtesy of Musei Civici Veneziani

In the excerpt where Francesca and the Turk (Selim) are in the bar in Istanbul, they start talking about Venice, and particularly about an art museum there, Ca’Pesaro.  Ca’Pesaro is a 17-century palazzo on the Grand Canal dedicated primarily to 19th and 20th-century Italian art.  It does have a copy of Rodin’s “The Thinker”, as Selim remembers.

As home of the Biennale, Venice is one of the best places in the world to see contemporary art, and since it is a city unlike any other (canals, gondolas, etc.), the format of the museums and galleries in Venice makes it an exciting place to see art.  Ca’Pesaro is a perfect example–when Selim says he wandered into the museum by accident, it’s because the back of the museum, where the entrance is, opens up to a small alley near San Stae (and a great pizza place called Muro).  Most of the city’s museums are in fascinating buildings: Punta della Dogana, Palazzo Grassi, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection are among my favorites.

Francesca may be a commercial photographer, but hearing Selim speak about a modern art museum piques her artistic sensibility and her curiosity.  He is somewhat clever, as well, to have figured out that speaking about art will appeal to her.  It may be more than just a one-night stand…