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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Punta della Dogana: Venice's Newest Art Museum

Basilica of St Mary of Health/Salvation, VeniceImage by Christopher Chan via Flickr

Author: Peter Merifield

Taking the crown held for half a century by Peggy Guggenheim and her collection-cum-home situated in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal, Venice's newest art gallery is the Punta della Dogana. Where Guggenheim's collection of American Modernism, Italian Futurism, and French Surrealism once claimed the title of "most contemporary" in the vast Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque output of the Serene Republic, the Punta della Dogana houses a decidedly more post-modern fare. Drawn from François Pinault's impressive portfolio of contemporary art products, one is likely to stumble across works by Takeshi Murakami, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst in the Tadao Ando refurbished palazzo. A far cry from the Carpaccio and Veronese - or for that matter Peggy's Ernst and Boccioni - the François Pinault Foundation's Dogana is a site keeping Venice's art scene alive and well in light of international competition.

Housed in the Palazzo Grassi (once famously owned by Fiat developer, Gianni Agnelli who use to display his own art collection in the building), the Dogana is located at the southernmost point of the sestiere Dorsoduro, right next to the imposing basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. A short distance to travel for anyone staying at the fine hotels in Venice located on the Giudecca, the seventeenth century building is worth a visit in and of itself. Designed by Benoni and capped with a rotating statue of Fortuna by Bernardo Falconi, the building once housed the custom offices of the Venetian Republic. While much of the exterior remains untouched, the interior - retrofitted to the design taste of Tadao Ando - has been open, reorganized and encased in concrete to create a space harmonious with its post-modern art objects.

Since its opening with a lavish party in 2009 during the Venice Beinnale (the annual art trade show where the new and notable like to display their offerings) the Dogana has entertained guests such as Charlotte Casiraghi (Princess Grace of Monaco's granddaughter), Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs who undoubtedly took to the exhibitions with great excitement. Chancing upon a stay at the lovely Venice hotels, one would do well to consult with the concierge desk on the last exhibit and the Dogana's hours of operations to ensure a fabulous day of post-modern art in the dreamy, Floating City.

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About the Author

Peter Merifield is a London-based freelance journalist with a mission to make you a better and happier human being. Drawing attention to the peculiarities of life in the modern age is all part of the package.Check out his other articles for everything you need to know about hotels in Venice.

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