'Culture Chanel. The woman who reads' at Ca' Pesaro

Coco Chanel and her intense relationship with books and reading

From 17 September 2016 to 08 January 2017

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From 17th September 2016 to 8th January 2017 Venice celebrates Coco Chanel: Ca' Pesaro is home to the seventh chapter of Culture Chanel in Venice, the great travelling exhibition that for several years has been moving around the world presenting each time new perspectives on the artist's life.

The new Culture Chanel exhibition in Venice - Museum of Ca' Pesaro, is entitled 'The woman who reads’: from ancient Greek literature to modern poets, Gabrielle Chanel’s library reveals the works that left an impression on her life and shaped the personality of this woman destined to leave her signature in the fashion world. From her sad childhood spent in the solitude of the orphanage of Aubazine until the end of her life, books offered comfort to Chanel... They nourished her imagination and guided her path, showing her how to set her vision of the world into place. Homer, Plato, Virgil, Sophocles, Lucretius, Dante, Montaigne, Cervantes, Madame de Sevigne, Stéphane Mallarmé, up to the contemporary authors she personally knew with such as Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob and Jean Cocteau.

Her broad general knowledge significantly contributed in shaping her ‘modernity' and the revolution she introduced in women's fashion by creating a new female model, that of an employed, sporty and label-free woman, in sharp contrast to the previous Belle Époque. From her famous tailleur dresses to the large ones, from straight lines to the introduction of a sober, elegant and comfortable style, Chanel is a style icon that defies her own era projecting herself beyond it.

Centred on the rich library, the Chanel exhibition 2016 at Ca Pesaro in Venice, offers analogies and visual connections. Photographs, drawings, paintings and dedications, not to mention her fashion creations, will help the visitor to understand how reading inspired and shaped her aesthetic taste, which encapsulates her love for classicism and the baroque, and her love for Russia and the golds of Venice.

Several art objects from the designer’s Paris apartment will be presented at the Chanel exhibition in Venice will also for the first time, along with perfumes and jewels. These pieces, around 350, sketch a portrait of a woman portrayed in intimacy surrounded by her books, who transformed into a legend.

Started in 2007, Culture Chanel offers the public a depiction of Gabrielle Chanel and the homonymous House she founded. Each exhibition approaches a different theme and reconstructs the various aspects of a fascinating and complex personality step by step. After the exhibitions in Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Paris and Seoul, the next Culture Coco Chanel exhibition will be held in in Venice, a city that has always deeply inspired the artist.

The Coco Chanel exhibition in Venice at Ca’ Pesaro, has been curated by Jean-Louis Froment and conceived with the collaboration of Gabriella Belli, and organized with the support of the House of CHANEL.


'Culture Chanel. The woman who reads'

  1. The life we lead - Portrait of Gabrielle Chanel

    The Chanel exhibition in Venice in 2016 opens with a few words written by the artist herself: ‘The life we lead always amounts to so little, the life we dream of, that’s the great existence because it continues on after our death’. From a young age, Gabrielle proved to be an avid reader and as time went by her passion gave way to a distinct interest for literature and poetry, aroused also by her relationship with Arthur Capel.

    While reading on one hand widened her vision of the world, on the other hand it allowed her to escape from it, to dream of shaping herself while offering her the strength and the means to fulfil her expectations... Similarly to how the great writers and poets she admired and read assiduously, Chanel managed to write a novel out of her life, finding her own style and vocabulary.
  1. Secret of the invisible

    Reading responded to her aspiration to reach the invisible, in a journey that crosses centuries of literary tradition. She later becomes particularly passionate about poetic writing, which lies at the heart of her library and allowed her to establish close relationships with renowned personalities such as Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Pierre Reverdy. Her proximity to these authors allowed her to find a modernity in her own language, that of fashion. In 1921, Chanel launched No. 5, her first fragrance: the name, one simple number, and the label, evoking the Dadaists, marked a revolution in the world of perfumery.
  1. Thoughts that make you think - The notebook of Boy Capel

    Arthur Capel, known as 'Boy' (1881-1919), a businessman and British polo champion, played a prominent role in the life of the designer. Their relationship lasted more than a decade, they were both passionate about literature and shared an interest for esotericism and Bhagavad Gita, one of the fundamental texts of Hinduism. Boy dies in a car accident in 1919 and Chanel, destroyed by the loss of her first love, sought refuge in the books he had given her. In a notebook intended for her, exhibited here at ‘Culture Chanel the woman who reads’ for the first time, he recorded notes from his readings.
  1. The time aspects

    Coco Chanel's relationship with books shows us to what extent a passion for books can influence one’s life... The mix of works, authors and eras contained in her library are mirrored in Chanel’s reflections and thoughts. Perhaps, it is the ability of books to speak beyond time limits that inspired Chanel to devise a perpetual style that goes beyond the ephemeral nature of fashion.


Fashion enthusiasts and fans of Coco Chanel ... Venice is waiting for you! Plan a weekend in the lagoon and visit this fascinating Chanel exhibition in Venice: a new exhibition to discover one of the artist’s greatest passions, which shaped her life and helped her turn into an immortal icon.


Chanel Venice exhibition Times

September 17th 2016 - January 8th 2017

every day from 10.00 to 18.00

Closed on Mondays

Culture Chanel exhibition 2016 Tickets

The exhibition can be visited after purchasing the normal online admission ticket to Ca’ Pesaro or at the museum ticket office.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff