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We are all veterans of a dream. William Congdon in Venezia
Written by Anna Trevisan   

congdon1.jpgThanks to his encounter with Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons (the gallery owner who displayed the works of all the artists of Action painting, from Pollock to Rothko), the American artist William Congdon became famous. Venice enchanted him with her limpid marine beauty, helping him to emerge from his shadowy, painful memories. Far from Bergen Belsen, where in May 1945 he worked as a relief volunteer. Long from the suburbs of New York, where he lived for some time. Far from inner turmoil. An electric charge began to illuminate his works with new energy, until the last breath.


Speaking of Congdon, Peggy Guggenheim said that "he is the only painter, after Turner, who has really understood Venice, its mystery, its poetry, its passion". Behold this sigh made of colour, with streaks of gold and cream fleeing from lines and dark patches (Piazza Venice, 1948); slashed, painful compositions of water and light (Venice Canal 4, 1950); buttery materic whites and blues (White Lagoon Venice San Michele, 1953); lopsided volumes and geometries (Venice Canal 1, 1952); gilded stripes (Venice St. Mark square 1, 1950).

 

congdon2.jpgThe experience of high tide, penetrating even into private houses, wetting and soaking everything, is transformed by Congdon into a perceptive epiphany. As in the REM phase (the obscure period which is a prelude to the entrance into dreams, where the humid, vague torpor of sleep blends with the light of awakening), the phenomenon of high tide, or rather its vision, allows a liquid, mobile contact of the retina with the distortion and confusion of the planes of reality.
It is, perhaps, the vision of that amniotic embrace between water and material things which best expresses the artist’s intense relationship with Venice, the city which, more than any other, inspires us to say that "we are all veterans of a dream."

 

«William Congdon a Venezia (1948-1960): uno sguardo americano»
From 5 May to 8 July Spazio Ca’ Foscari Esposizioni
Info www.studioesseci.net