Palazzo now open
The first major act by art historian, former under secretary and media personality Vittorio Sgarbi on being appointed Superintendent of the Venetian state museums by government has been to get the Palazzo Grimani, the finest Renaissance palazzo in Venice, open all day (except Mondays). "It was ridiculous" he said: "It had 11 guards but they let people in just three hours a day and on guided tours exclusively in Italian, which you had to know to book in advance". He is using the building, which was totally inaccessible for nearly 20 years while under restoration, to house a series of small "masterpiece in focus" shows, the first being of Giorgione's enigmatic Tempesta of 1510, which, he said, was painted for a small, private room, the same kind of context it now has in the Grimani. The famously provocative Sgarbi could not resist sexing up the press conference with a beautiful porno star, who promised to stand naked in a niche as a pendant to the fresco of a nude, also by Giorgione, from the facade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Explaining the Vanitas theme, Sgarbi looked at her and said: "She's great now but in 40 years she'll be rubbish like this old crone", pointing at the third Giorgione in the show, The Old Woman. The porno star made a sensible speech and seemed a good sport, but there were howls of protest later from more conventional arts administrators (not present). "La Tempesta" (until 10 October 2010) will be followed by Hieronymus Bosch, Canaletto's sketchbooks and possibly Vasari. Sgarbi is also the curator of the Padiglione Italia for the 2011 Biennale and mayor of Salemi, a small, beautiful but semi-abandoned town in Sicily. His appointment as Superintendent is being challenged by the union and the Corte dei Conti (Court of Auditors).
Venice in Peril paid for research into the whereabouts of the Palazzo Grimani sculpture collections and educational material about them.