Max Ernst

Finding Modernism in Venice

Finding Modernism in Venice

Canals filled with turquoise water instead of streets bustling with cars and bicycles come to mind when I think of Venice. Joseph Brodsky’s essay Watermark (1993) resonates deeply with the visitor, as does a watery dream conjured by Robert Altman: I was immediately reminded of his film, 3 Women (1977) upon arrival. Brodsky only visited Venice in December for he longed to celebrate the beginning of a new year with “a wave hitting the shore at midnight.” He explained “that, to me, is time coming out of water.”  Brodsky also described the city as being “part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers” and he described the canal-side structures as “upright lace.” Brodsky, born in Leningrad, was exiled from his homeland due to his “having a worldview damaging to the state, decadence and modernism, failure to finish school, and social parasitism . . . except for the writing of awful poems” (Brodsky went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987). He thought of Venice as the closest incarnation of Eden and “the greatest masterpiece our species produced.”

Desire

The All star corps of an exquisite corpse/becomes a corpse/What becomes an exquisite corpse most One should walk into "Desire unbound", the survey of work from the late Surrealist movement (which originated at the Tate Gallery in London and now at the time of this writing in a re-charted version at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York); as one should walk into any exhibition -or for that matter into a dream. Therein having dropped as many preconceptions as possible one should in the best of all possible worlds at least try to re-examine what is before one under the new parameters set up for them to take in the art.