Places of interest27 May 2019

"Art nouveau. The triumph of beauty ": the exhibition at the Reggia di Venaria [Video & photo gallery]

Sensuality, beauty and occultism: the breath of Art Nouveau inebriates the Reggia di Venaria, on display, until 26 January 2020, by the most famous artists of the movement born in Paris in 1890. With a focus on Liberty landed in Turin in 1902.



It is a special flowering, the one that the Reggia di Venaria is experiencing. A precious bouquet of paintings, furniture, sculptures, decorative details where sensuality, eroticism and mystery become undisputed protagonists. It is the lyrical power of Art Nouveau, whose elusive taste, combined with a defiant provocative spirit, melt in the search for the new and the unusual in spite of all academic rigidity. A total art that crosses Europe and the United States, molding itself in different styles according to the countries, and that has seen in Turin's Liberty one of its maximum expressions (officially started in 1902, with the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art ).

The Reggia hosts until January 26th 2020 a rich display of characteristic works coming from the Arwas Archives, the Arte Nova Foundation and the Rodolfo Caglia Collection, as well as several other private loans. "They were young, aggressive and gifted with great talent," explains Katy Spurell, curator, describing the protagonists of the period. "The aim of the exhibition is to give an idea of ​​a rich and multi-faceted era, following an articulated path through iconographic themes that illustrate the multiple souls of a complex phenomenon, which erupted in Paris starting in 1890 and then spread widely".

Through 200 works divided into five thematic sections, the exhibition offers the visitor an immersion in what was a veritable artistic revolution breaking with the past, capable of upsetting every pre-established canon between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. A hymn to freedom of expression and beauty in a modern society that is moving towards an increasingly marked industrialization and emancipation.

[Alfons Mucha, Fruit]

Just as innovative is the setting up inside the Sala dei Paggi of the Reggia di Venaria, which, reproducing the typical atmospheres of the era, highlights the themes favored by the artists, the inspiring muses, the favorite subjects. First of all, nature, understood no longer as a safe and maternal refuge, but a mystical, ineffable, dreamlike place. In the first section, artists such as Emile Gallé, Daum Frères, Rupert Carabin and Eugène Grasset stand out, concentrating their production on floral and zoomorphic motifs, exotic and mythological creatures.

But just as nature assumes new connotations, the sensual creature par excellence, the woman, is painted with renewed ardor. And so here is the silhouette of an increasingly independent and self-assured femme damnée, caught in the voluptuous exploration of a conquered independence. Images with a more or less marked erotic charge (fruit of the hand of Alphonse Mucha, Paul Berthoud, Leonetto Capiello and others) that were ideally projected onto famous celebrities, divas undisputed and idolized by the public as the actress Sarah Bernhardt, used also for promotion of different product lines, from cosmetics, to clothes, to food.

[Villa Scott (Turin), credit pietroizzo - Flickr]

Continuing the tour, you will come across the perfect synthesis between literature and design, where the fascination of artists for the occult and alternative religions fill the symbolist research of the period with anxiety (as emerges in the typical style of Maurice Bouval, Leonard Agathon , Georges Rochergrosse and others). Finally, the next to last section illustrates the production process that interested Art Nouveau in the figure of the artist-designer, able to exploit all the means made available by technology. The decorative arts are thus freed from being simply a product of use, to access serial production - or even industrial - which dictates the new rules of modern living.

From here the visitor is dismissed with a focus on Italian Liberty, able to completely transform some neighborhoods of the Turin of the early twentieth century, which can still be admired in their splendor.

  • Hours:

Monday: closing day (except any public holidays)

From Tuesday to Friday: from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: from 9 am to 6.30 pm

Times may change.

For more information, visit the official website of the Reggia di Venaria.

  • Price

Full ticket 14 € -

Reduced ticket 12 € -

Free for children under 6 years, also for holders of the Torino Piemonte Museums Pass and Turin holders + Piemonte Card

Judit Neuberger

International editions:   English | Deutsch | Russian