Considering the Most Serene Republic of Venice

VeniceIf any city in the world is defined by its geographical surroundings, one could easily argue that the northern Italian city of Venice is, and that geography is water: a lagoon (the Venetian), two rivers (the Po and the Piave), and a sea (the Mediterranean). 

Known alternatively as the Bride of the Sea, the Queen of the Adriatic, and the Floating City, the culture of Venice is like no other and Reflecting Venice: Meaning in Place (March 25) looks at the city’s significant impact on the world, both artistically and philosophically.

Led by artist and writer Jil Evans and philosopher Charles Taliaferro, the immersion will highlight the ideas that shaped Venetian culture and helped to make it a center of East-West trade, and the art and artists who launched a new direction in painting throughout Europe. 

Evans explains: “Titian, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo, the quintessential Venetian painters who have inspired so many artists to this day” have wrought dazzling, innovative work to represent their vision of their city through “exuberant gesture, and their use of reflections,” as might be anticipated in a city famous for flowing, liquid streets. As well, they developed “the lively use of color to create space. Their paintings say ‘Now, now, now—this is the moment to be alive!’”

Taliaferro also can’t avoid water-based terms in his description, characterizing Venice’s strength as buoyancy. “Venice is almost a miracle in the way that it—as a city, community, and tradition—has carried on a balancing act,” he says. From Napoleon’s transgression to the contemporary threats of rising sea levels and high-impact tourism, Venice nonetheless manifests a “resilience against the odds that is awesome, historically.”

What the city is not, Taliaferro stresses, is a shallow theme-park destination. “It is, instead, an ongoing city with a vast and deep history. Venice, as it were, is a teacher we can learn from,” whether you have visited the city many times or considered it from a distance. Learn More...