‘The world that was not there. Pre-Columbian art in the Ligabue Collection’ at Palazzo Loredan

The art exhibition that has already enchanted Florence, Rovereto and Naples lands in Venice

From 12 January 2018 to 30 June 2018

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The great exhibition of the Ligabue Collection in Venice on pre-Columbian art has just opened in Venice: from 12th January to 30th June 2018 the Veneto Institute of Literature, Arts and Sciences - Palazzo Loredan welcomes over 200 works belonging to the many and diverse pre-Columbian civilizations that have prospered in Mesoamerica before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Conquistadores, a fascinating, lively and varied world that had remained hidden from Europe for thousands of years.

After taking Florence, Rovereto and Naples by storm, 'The world that was not there. The pre-Columbian art in the Ligabue Collection’ is being showcased in Venice ... An exceptional collection, part of the Ligabue Collection, in Venice for the first time, which will herald the encounter of two very diverse but ideally similar civilizations, which share the same roots.

The exhibition

A visit to 'The world that was not there' will unveil the world of pre-Columbian civilizations to you. These fascinating cultures are still poorly understood. They were crushed and subjugated for years by the Conquistadores who, attracted only by their treasures, were responsible for massacres and looting without equal. Centuries passed after the discovery of America before the Western world became aware of the grandeur of the cultures and art of this new world.

According to the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the discovery of America is perhaps the most important event in the history of mankind, an epoch-making event that undermined the way the world was perceived at the end of the fifteenth century. Christopher Columbus, however, thought he had landed on the islands off the coast of Japan ... It was Amerigo Vespucci who realized a Mundus Novus had been discovered, which was dubbed precisely 'America' after his name. A few decades after the landing of Columbus, the Aztecs and Inca were crushed with weapons and subjected to slavery whilst the Taino suffered complete annihilation... Moreover, the quest for gold - which led Spaniards and adventurers to the Andes, in search of the legendary El Dorado - and the diseases brought by the Europeans contributed to the end of these very ancient civilizations.

As part of the Ligabue collection exhibition in 2018 you will admire the rare stone masks of Teotihuacan - the first real city in central Mexico and one of the largest in all of Mesoamerica; Mayan vases of the classical era that, rich in inscriptions and decorations, offer precious testimonies on the civilization and writing of these cultures; the anthropomorphic statues of the Olmeca culture that greatly fascinated painters like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and several surrealists; the enigmatic and mysterious Mezcala sculptures that were collected by André Breton, Paul Eluard and the sculptor Henry Moore; polychrome ceramic hollow statues of the Chupicuaro culture, which reached its apex between 400 and 100 BC .; cinerary urns of the Zapoteca culture with often anthropomorphic effigies from 200 BC at 200 AD; splendid Aztec sculptures, among which the most valuable examples are the Ecuadorian Venuses of Valdivia, and further Inca objects, fabrics and vases of Nazca, artefacts of the Moche culture and excellent objects in gold.

The pre Columbian art exhibition in Venice will offer visitors much food for thought, to help them capture the different aspects of the life and the cultures of Mesoamerica, and to understand how our world is still indebted to these civilizations... It suffices to consider that foods like cocoa, tomatoes and potatoes appeared on our tables after the discovery of America, thanks to the mediation of the kitchens of the Spanish Court; football itself, a tradition deeply rooted in the culture and ritual of these civilizations, as can be seen from the works and illustrations on display, has come to Europe from the New World. A special mention should be given to sweetcorn. Imported into Venice from Spain - according to Ramusio its cultivation in the Polesine area dates back to 1554 – sweetcorn became the main ingredient of polenta, which was cooked without using the techniques of the native Americans causing the endemic spread of pellagra.

While distancing itself from the race to the new continent, Venice managed to conquer those distant lands thanks to the power of its own collective imagination. In many chronicles of the time many cities built on water were compared or even named with references to Venice, such as the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, often called 'another Venice'. The leading role of Venetian printers - the number of texts on the Americas published in the sixteenth century by Venice was surpassed only by Paris - allowed the Serenissima to become one of the driving forces of the so-called 'literary discovery' of the Americas, so much so that some Venetian texts are still considered the most ancient sources on the New World, as the original texts have been lost.

The exhibition at Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, Venice - Palazzo Loredan

The amazing location of the library at Palazzo Loredan heightens the uniqueness of pre Columbian art exhibition in 2018 in Venice ... Golden objects, statuettes and artefacts are in fact placed next to Murano glass chandeliers, inlays and Venetian books creating a sort of magic in seeing these two distant worlds juxtaposed next to each other, the world that was not there next to the one that was there.

The Giancarlo Ligabue Foundation

The Ligabue Collection in Venice is one of the most important and complete Italian collections dedicated to the cultures of ancient Mesoamerica – which includes parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, portions od of Honduras and Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, up to Chile and Argentina.

'The world that was not there. Pre-Columbian art in the Ligabue Collection’ is the brainchild of Giancarlo Ligabue's son, Inti, shortly after his father's death, as a tribute to his work, which however continues today in cultural, scientific research and dissemination activities carried out by the Center for Studies and Research founded over 40 years ago by Giancarlo Ligabue.

Entrepreneur, explorer, passionate collector, paleontologist and an archeology and anthropology scholar, Giancarlo Ligabue (1931-2015) embarked on more than 130 expeditions on all continents, taking part personally in the excavations and explorations. His passion has led to many discoveries, now kept in important museums around the world, as well as the creation of a rich and precious artistic collection, expression of multiple cultures.

A part of the vast Ligabue collection constitutes the centrepiece of this fascinating Venice pre Columbian art exhibition, curated by Jacques Blazy, a connoisseur of the pre-Hispanic arts of Mesoamerica and South America. Other member of the scientific committee of the Giancarlo Ligabue Foundation who collaborated in this exhibition are the Peruvian archaeologist Federico Kauffmann Doig and André Delpuech, director of the Musée de l'Homme in Paris and formerly responsible for the Collections of the Americas at the Musée du quai Branly.

 

Exhibitions at Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, Venice

'The world that was not there. Pre-Columbian art in the Ligabue Collection’

12th January 2018 – 30th June 2018

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

By Insidecom Editorial Staff