Director's Report, 2018

OUR PROGRAM OF SUMMER 2018 was impressive. Twenty-one students participated including nine graduate students and twelve undergraduates from a range of disciplines: painting and drawing, printmaking, sculpture, art history, animation, interior design, art education. The group was both gifted and compatible. Course enrollment was well-distributed across Painting, Printmaking, Art History of Venice and Materials and Techniques of Venetian Art.

Early on Joe Kopta led visits to Torcello and to Ravenna. Gisolfi’s Materials and Techniques group visited the mosaic restoration laboratory in the Basilica of San Marco and the mosaic making firm of Orsoni where we saw the making of the gold leaf tesserae. Students in Michael Brennan’s studios at the UIA site and Andrea Santos’ at the Scuola Grafica fell to work responding to the beauties of the place in line and color. On the Padua day-trip our architectural preservation host was able to arrange a full hour in the Giotto Arena chapel which, despite some glitches with a new lighting system, created awe. We studied damaged Mantegna frescoes nearby. Walking through the university town, we came to the Santo basilica where Joe spoke about the Gattamelata and Diana arranged entrance to the Oratorio for Antichiero’s frescoes and Scuola del Santo where we studied Titian’s early frescoes. In the Basilica itself we found Donatello’s high altar sculptures and the chapel of Sant’Antonio with sculptures by the Lombardi and Sansovino. Our villa trip was delayed a bit by a driver not used to the Veneto but succeeded in visiting Giorgione’s town of Castelfranco, detached frescoes from nearby, and two frescoed Palladian villas. The ample rustic meal provided by Gigi and Luisa in the hills above Bassano was enjoyed by all, followed by sketching and watercolor on site, before a walk down the hill, across Palladio’s bridge, and through the town of Bassano.

Andrew Kurczak (former Venice assistant and Guggenheim intern) guiding us at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.

In addition to the wonderful help of our colleagues at both studios, Roberta and Massimo, librarians at the Cini Foundation Library welcomed our students, as did those at the Marciana and the Querini-Stampalia. Elena Trolese, our lovely Italian instructor, taught faculty and half the students how to understand and speak, and joined our last supper. Technical expert Paolo Spezzani showed everyone the underdrawings and alterations in many of the works of art that we viewed in our visit to the Accademia, at Padua and at Castelfranco. At the Accademia we were all allowed to see the Carpaccio paintings under conservation and ask questions of the curator and the conservators.  High points for Materials and Techniques included the visit to San Sebastiano with the conservator explaining the data derived in the current conservation of the paintings by Veronese and going into the lab set up within the Scuola San Rocco to learn from the conservators about Tintoretto’s short cuts in two of his latest paintings. The entire group enjoyed a weekend visit to the Peggy Guggenheim with Andrew Kurczak (former Venice assistant and Guggenheim intern) as our guide. He provided an engaging account of Peggy’s development of the collection.

Our student Art history and Material research presentations on our last Friday were instructive and wonderfully varied, and the Critique of studio work the following Monday showed abundant work and high creativity. In between we enjoyed the Redentore feast with its amazing choreographed fireworks, and finally Sergio created a fine Last Supper for all looking over the Giudecca canal.

We enjoyed throughout a particularly lovely summer season, with rain sudden at night and clear days.

Diana Gisolfi, Director