12.04.2024 Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice #art

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Ode to Beauty by Jean Cocteau

The big day has arrived: “Jean Cocteau. The Juggler’s Revenge” has opened at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, undoubtedly the richest and most complete retrospective ever dedicated to the enfant terrible of the 20th-century French art scene to be staged in Italy.

“The Peggy Guggenheim Collection – explained director Karole P.B. Vail to the audience – is the perfect place to host this event: first and foremost, because of the friendship that Cocteau long maintained with Peggy Guggenheim. But also because of the great love that Cocteau always had for the city of Venice, an indissoluble bond born during his first visit at the age of fifteen, which led him to regularly visit the lagoon in the years following the Second World War.” At the opening, followed by a refined dinner, several figures from the Italian and international art and culture world were present. Among them: Ioannis Kontaxopoulos, Joseph Kosuth, Diane von Furstenberg, Bianca Arrivabene, Claudia Zanchi, Paolo Carlon, and Vanessa Valerio Carlon.

In the rooms overlooking the Grand Canal, more than a hundred and fifty works including drawings, prints, jewelry, documents, magazines, photos, and films directed by Cocteau himself are displayed, coming from major museum institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, as well as important private collections, including the Cartier Collection (the French maison is also a main sponsor of the project). The exhibition, curated by Kenneth E. Silver and continuing until September 16, is one of the highlights of the season and recounts the development of the unmistakable aesthetic and the highlights of the tumultuous career of the kaleidoscopic artist. A career marked by themes such as Orpheus and poetry, eros, the classical in art, Venice and the relationship with Peggy Guggenheim, cinema, design, and fashion. Among the many gems on display, a surprising selection of drawings emphasizes the centrality of the theme of desire in his artistic practice, as well as the ambivalent relationship that Cocteau always had with Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.

Not to be missed is also the section related to his relationship with the advertising and film world, through the impact that his art had on artists such as Andy Warhol, Félix Gonzáles-Torres, and Pedro Almodóvar. Cocteau used to say: “It is very difficult to make happiness beautiful. Happiness that is only the absence of troubles is an ugly thing.” Well, paraphrasing the master, in Venice happiness has never been so beautiful.

Photos: Ludovica Arcero

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