'Antonio Canova. The art violated in the Great War t the Gipsoteca Museum of Possagno

The martyrdom of Canova art during the First World War

From 26 July 2015 to 28 February 2016


Today, as a hundred years ago, scarring of a work of art is an incurable wound, a horrible mess to which one should never attend. The exhibition at the Canova Museum Gipsoteca of Possagno, Treviso wants to be a testament as to how conflicts can have devastating effects not only on humans and on the territory, but also on our priceless heritage.

'Antonio Canova. The art violated in the Great War', one of the most intense Treviso events 2015, will be hosted until 28 February 2016 in the famous Canova Gipsoteca of Possagno, the birthplace of the great master of Neoclassicism and home, at the behest of his brother, of Antonio Canova sculptures, which include the marble statues and plaster models left in the artist's studio in Rome after his death.

In the halls of the Gipsoteca of Canova by Fondazione Canova Possagno the poignant photographs taken by Stefano and Siro Serafin of some of his martyred works during the First World War will be exhibited, shots of strong emotional impact comparable to television images proposed today by television on modern conflicts: think, for example, of the two Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 and the looting and the ravages perpetrated in the cities of Hatra and Ninmruid by the Islamic State.

To fully understand the significance of this extraordinary exhibition in Canova, Possagno, we must take a step back in time to when, in 1917, following the defeat of Caporetto, the area between the Rivers Piave and Brenta was heavily bombed. Two grenades ended up on the roof of the Gipsoteca Canova Possagno, destroying the gallery dedicated to the works of large dimensions where the plaster models used by Canova to achieve his magnificent marble sculptures were kept, leaving the remains exposed to the elements.

At this point in the story an extremely important figure takes over: Stefano Serafin, then guardian of the building and strongly linked to Canova as he lived in his birthplace and had made significant art analyses of the artist. Upon hearing the news of the terrible bombing, Serafin went to the Gipsoteca with his son, Siro to assess the damage, but only after the war he obtained official permission to photograph and subsequently to restore what was left of the works of the Master.

It was thanks to the work of Serafin, performed with great passion and dedication, that the images of the plaster casts of Canova horribly scarred began to spread: those precious shots are now on display at the Gipsoteca Canova Possagno dedicated to the Master and will be accompanied, in very exceptional cases, from the original artwork. Some of these works still bear clear signs of the bombing, others were rebuilt by the Serafin, others have been carefully restored by the museum itself. Masterpieces such as Prince Lubomirski, the Three Graces, Pauline Bonaparte and the Dancers with cymbals are now shining again.

Among the shots on display at the Venice Museo Canova in Possagno, the most emblematic one is missing, which depicts some French soldiers playing soccer with the head of Pauline Bonaparte. Stefano Serafin watched petrified the scene, but did not have time, or perhaps the courage to capture that moment, a cruel affront to the great master.
Instead he managed to photograph the 'Hebe cupbearer of the gods' broken in two, Napoleon holed uncontrollably like a target, the Muse Plimnia with her face torn and many other wonderful works mutilated or even gutted.
All these images are collected in a small album with a hand embroidered cover, which is now part of the heritage of the Canova Institute, while the original plates are kept at FAST, the Treviso Historical Photo Archives, along with other images created by the son Siro.

Noteworthy is the famous Ebe, one of Antonio Canova sculptures. The artist made two marble versions: one is kept at the National Gallery in Berlin, the other in the Museums of San Domenico in Forlì. Unfortunately both were seriously affected by the bombing of 1917, as well as the original plaster model.

During the course of the exhibition 'Antonio Canova. The art violated in the Great War', one of the most anticipated events in Treviso Italy events, an interesting didactic action precisely on this work will take place, which will compare the damaged plaster model and a reconstruction made with innovative and modern technology in 3D. The missing parts will be exhibited but will not be physically added to the original work that will remain as a fundamental testimony of the tragic consequences that happened during the conflict.

The art exhibition in Treviso in the Possagno Canova Museum, continues with images of two contemporary photographers: Guido Guidi and Gian Luca Eulisse who pose their eyes on the Canova plasters scarred by bombing making them, once again, timeless witnesses of the most atrocious human experience: war.

In addition to photos and Antonio Canova sculptures, the Gipsoteca Canova will host 5 readings on the Great War by Cinzia Zanardo, the niece of Elisa Fagnolo Zanardo, who survived the conflict which was particularly bloody in the left side of the River Piave. The woman, then aged fourteen, entrusted to her diary the fear, the pain but also the will of redemption of that tragic period, a document that has come to light and become a source of inspiration for her niece.

Thanks to the collaboration of the Stepan Zavrel Foundation, the exhibition 'Antonio Canova. The art violated in the Great War', as part of the rich calendar of Treviso events 2015, will also offer an innovative' teaching module', a new book about the artist's life and the works of the Civic Museum of Bassano del Grappa and the Gipsoteca of Canova of Possagno. The volume, enriched with drawings by Gabriel Pacheco, one of the most famous Mexican painters and illustrators, will be distributed nationwide in bookstores and museums and will also be aimed at younger readers with the intent to make them understand, appreciate and love art in any form.

The Canova exhibition offers one of the most exciting events in the province of Treviso: 'Antonio Canova. The art violated in the Great War' will be open until 28 February 2016. Book one of our hotels in Treviso and get inspired by the works of the Master and the beautiful backdrop of the Museum-Gipsoteca Canova in Possagno.


Art Exhibition Treviso: 'ANTONIO CANOVA. Art violated in the Great War'

Location: Museum-Gipsoteca Canova in Possagno (TV)

Date: 26 July 2015 to 28 February 2016

By Insidecom Editorial Staff


Period: From 26 July 2015 to 28 February 2016

Event location: Possagno (Tv)

Contacts: Museo Canova Possagno, for information on schedules and tickets at www.museocanova.it