How Do They Smell? (Venezia 259)

Just a few yards from La Partigiana, an artwork replacing a statue dynamited by fascist sympathisers, stands a bust of a composer who died in the city.  Nothing remarkable about his presence here then, though there is an irony in the juxtaposition of this work with the other, given his reputation for anti-semitism and adoption as an exemplar by the Nazi party.

To be fair to Richard Wagner, the Nazism occurred long after his death so he could not be held responsible, and with a number of Jews among his close friends his views may well have been exaggerated.  Nevertheless he is a controversial figure, which perhaps explains why in recent years an act of vandalism saw his nose smashed off.  It seems that the left and the right are no respecters of art, though as the bust of Verdi in the same park was also attacked, perhaps the act wasn’t politically motivated so much as that of an opera critic?



As the tide laps (Venezia 8)

Shortly after leaving the bus and rail termini, your journey down the Grand Canal quickly brings you to the stunning palazzo known as Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, the Ca’ being a contraction of Casa, an old family residence.  This particular structure has also entertained a number of famous visitors through its five hundred year history (it is now the Venice Casino) including Richard Wagner, who was inconsiderate enough to die there.

Though the building itself is stunning, and will probably feature in its entirety later in this series, it was the detail of this plaque that caught my eye; a memorial to Wagner, it bears an inscription written by another artist with controversial political views, Gabriele D’Annunzio, which translates as :

In this palace the souls hear the last breath of Richard Wagner perpetuating itself like the tide which washes the marble beneath