In conjunction with the 54th Venice Biennale, the Museum of 18th Century Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, hosts Portraits and Masterpieces, a solo show of the American sculptor Barry X Ball (b. 1955).
A total of twenty sculptures will be exhibited throughout the three museum floors, which will include portraits of personalities from the world of art realized in unusual marbles and frequently inspired from old portraiture, together with the first three sculptures from the series Masterpieces. From the latter, Purity and Envy derive from a 3D digital scanning of the homonym marbles of Antonio Corradini and Giusto de Court, both exhibited at the 18th century museum, while Sleeping Hermaphrodite revises the celebrated Hermafrodite at the Museé de Louvre in Paris, a Roman sculpture fro the Hellenistic period of which bed was realized by the young Bernini. These sculptures show an extraordinary transformation of the original model in the use of the unusual marbles such as the Iranian Onyx and the Golden Honeycomb Calcite, in their distinct surface finishing, and in the elaboration “a tutto tondo” of the substantial frontal images of the Venetian works – mentioning only some of the most evident aspects.
Since the beginning of his art career in the early 1980s, Barry X Ball intended his work as a contemporary response to the great masterpieces of the past: from 14th century Tuscan painting in gold background to Egyptian sculpture, from Hellenistic art to Bernini. He does not wish to contend with historical artworks to create replicas but, rather, to gain inspiration and to challenge their beauty, revealing force and formal quality.
Barry X Ball’s installations create a synchronization between his contemporary works and the museum halls’ layout, in order to enhance the quality of the details and of the individual pieces, emphasizing the colors and common forms. The installations look at the past through a contemporary eye and are able to again see an ancient root as a ground for contemporary art.
The exhibition was realized in collaboration with Galleria Michela Rizzo in Venice, Sperone Westwater in New York, and Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Paris.