Mention a Doge’s Palace and most people’s minds will jump to Venice (mine included), but the concept of a Doge (or Duke) as political leader wasn’t confined to La Serenissima.  The same was true of Genoa.  I’ve already referred to the Palazzo Ducale as the setting for the G8 summit, but this large building is more than just a conference centre.

There are traces of its days as a palace, but really these are few and far between and so the building will never merit the attention of its Venetian counterpart.  Consequently many of its more decorative elements have been sacrificed to make the most of one of its other assets; space.

The atrium is given over to the usual suspects; cafe, ticket office, gifts and crafts, but above and below the palazzo has become one of the city’s main event and exhibition centres.

When I was there there were two exhibits, both from internationally known artists with a degree of notoriety.

The big draw, the one emblazoned on posters and banners that screamed for attention in the brightest of pinks, was for the “The King of Pop-Art”.  There are key theme’s that we’re all familiar with from Warhol’s output; the screen prints, the recreated packaging, but the works on display showed there was so much more to him but… I can’t share any of it with you.  Once you entered the exhibition space photography was prohibited.  I managed to bend that rule because although it would have been good to capture some aspect of what I saw there was something else to view beyond the formally displayed work.  The rooms themselves.

I’ve encountered this before of course at a gallery in Venice; maintaining the fabric of these impressive buildings needs a degree of commercialism, but in creating suitable spaces for the display of art, and particularly more contemporary art, the fabric is hidden behind screens and curtains.

That was less of an issue in the other exhibit, which was held in what must have been a basement or cellar area, approached through a smaller entrance to one side of the building’s great facade.  Here I was allowed to take pictures, appropriate since the work on display was of one of the 20th centuries most notable, perhaps even notorious photographers.  Here were photographs of Italian villas, haute couture fashion, and portraits that included Margaret Thatcher.  Of course Helmut Newton is best known for his nudes.

Shots like that above were demonstrated that much of his early work in this area was financed by others; the shot on the left a fashion shot for Yves Saint Laurent, that on the right a piece of personal work that Newton shot making used of the fact that he already had location, models and lighting.  He also tried to recreate a lot of poses from classical art.

Perhaps a natural follow on to these beginnings, he shot a series of images where he tried to recreate exact duplicates with the same models in the same poses both clothed and unclothed, and though these were generally well received he gave up on the idea because it is technically very difficult to achieve.  This pairing demonstrates his approach, and perhaps the matching of poses might have been easier had the models kept the same footwear between shots.

Of course photographing other people’s photographs requires very little in the way of creativity, but if you wait patiently the opportunity will present itself.  Who is looking at who in this…

 

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