Canova: Innocence and Sin

17 December 2021 – 18 April 2022

Mart Roveroto
Corso Bettini 43
38068 Rovereto

On the occasion of the second centenary of the artist's death, Mart is celebrating the legacy of one of the most important sculptors of all time - Antonio Canova (1757 - 1822). This large exhibition explores the modern relevance of his work in contemporary languages, from photography to more recent sculptural work, highlighting links, dialogues, continuity and juxtapositions.

Canova’s work encapsulates the eternal beauty ideal founded on principles of harmony, proportion and balance. Packed with references to the past, his quest was open to the future, leaving an aesthetic ideal legacy which has survived to our own day. With its over 200 works, the exhibition enquires into the influence this legacy has had on contemporary lexicons, showcasing some of the most significant artistic trends in the photography and sculpture spheres. This quest for a beauty ideal is taken in a range of different directions along the exhibition itinerary, from emulation to celebration, questioning and rejection.

In an exhibition dominated by black and white, the true centre-stage player is the body. Whilst some of the artists exhibited have chosen to idealise and aestheticise it, others have opted for an unconventional and ‘anti-Canovian’ beauty concept which contemplates and embraces its opposite. In both cases, the body is iconic. The exhibition winds through five sections in which work by Canova and contemporary artists cohabit. In the work of certain sculptors active in the last century, sculptural practice takes the form of demonstrations of artistry, technical virtuosity and a quest which constantly renews the Canova canon, keeping it topical. The exhibition's central space features evocative dialogues between Canova and the greatest nude photographers of the 20th century: Helmut Newton; Jean-Paul Goude, Robert Mapplethorpe, Edward Weston, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst. A full-blown enquiry into perfection of technique and form. These are counterpointed in subsequent rooms by photographers who have taken an opposite approach, such as Miroslav Tichý, Jan Saudek and Joel-Peter Witkin. Finally a section of the exhibition focuses on the photographers who have focused their camera lenses on documenting and interpreting Canova's art: the Alinari brothers, Aurelio Amendola, Paolo Marton, Massimo Listri and Luigi Spina.

In the centre of the fountain in the museum’s plaza, visitors view a work by sculptor Fabio Viale who has been subverting the classical masterpieces by tattooing them for a number of years.