Money and Art Revisited: Peter Ainger’s Talk at the Italian Cultural Institute

Friday 28th September 2013

Peter Ainger flew in and gave a talk at the Italian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square. It was the fruits of his time at the Getty. I was bolt upright in the audience as was the former British Ambassadress to Rome. A TV greatness came in late with her husband who is a Knight for building services.

The talk was: did the new nobility favour coloured marbles after 1644 in the church known as Scalzi on Venice’s Grand Canal?  1644 signif date because from then purchase of Nobility for vast sum permitted by Venice authorities. So they were nouveau, weren’t they? Common, sweeping in with vulgar, fuck-off notions, swirly-whirly chapels in all directions in v. pricey coloured marbles. Old Nobility apparently good taste with colourless marble, but that was all they could afford. Hence need to allow new Nobility at a price.

Venice in fact just a massive tart’s bedroom by Versace equivalent, no better than Berlusconi’s drawing room (I know: we’ve never seen it. But you can imagine.)?

Frightful horror in the audience.

All this right up the Poor Little Rich Gay street, of course. Does money free or imprison? What drives to money? What inadequacy, if any? And so, are money’s products, as art or buildings, merely vulgar over-statements of wealth and eminence?

In our own lives,connecting us to the Venice of the 17th century, we have the same issue. The Multis’ penthouse is marble-lined and, if you count black as a colour, coloured-marble lined. When they did the penthouse there was a marble-crisis. A supplier ran off with a very large sum of Multi money. The Multis responded by flying to Italy several times to select their marble from the marble mines at Carrera. It was lorried over plus a team of marble-fitters who lived with their marble work for six weeks before the Multis took full possession of the Pent.

But the Photo Multi is an artist and their interior stuns all who walk its marble halls.

Afterwards we withdrew to the residence of the Cultural attaché for a fork supper. I chatted long with the TV star about high heels. Also with an Italian man who said, ‘When next in Rome you must call on Prince Jonathan. Just mention my name’. He gave me a card which I shall keep. He also said Berlusconi is the new Mussolini. Italy is finished as a place of high culture. I suppose the calling on Prince Jonathan is somehow a part of it, the idea of a stranger in a foreign city calling on someone they’ve never met quite gone now. Mainly because one is only ever there for a few days, at most a week. In the old days one might have stayed for a season and Prince Jonathan would have given an entreé.

And so, on to Houghton, where Sir Robert Walpole wished to swagger but somehow ended up with William Kent to gild and marble his halls.

Come back tomorrow. Come back. Come back.

Church Known as The Scalzi in Venice, Where New Nobles Possibility Self-Aggrandised

 

 

 

Posted Friday, September 27, 2013 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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