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L’Angelo degli Artisti. L’arte del Novecento e il ristorante All’Angelo a Venezia
Trittico dell\'Angelo
Emilio Vedova
Trittico dell'Angelo
From 07 December 2019 to 30 August 2020

We are accustomed to identifying the world of art with large and showy institutions: museums, galleries, famous public and private collections.

But we also know that there has been a period in art marked by wholly different characteristics: another world that was dynamic and informal, during which artists made material their social and community experience; during which their works were appreciated and collected in a different way.   The Ristorante All’Angelo is the first, famous stop on our journey.

Here the Carrain family lived its entrepreneurial and cultural adventure around the years of the Second World War. But its golden age starts from a particular moment in the very lively artistic debate of the late 1940s with the birth (and the sudden end!) of the movement called Fronte Nuovo delle Arti.

In 1927 the Carrain family took over a working- class trattoria at the end of Calle Larga San Marco, right next door to the Piazza. It managed it with intelligence and dynamism and created that atmosphere of cordiality and participation that would make it famous.

Two circumstances enlivened the present and future history of the restaurant: firstly, Renato Carrain, son of Augusto, the founder, was an able successor to his father and had a singular passion for art: his restaurant spontaneously attracted all the young (and less young) Venetian artists of the moment, including old glories and emerging and exuberant talents. Secondly, Renato Carrain wrote to a far-sighted and shrewd art critic, Giuseppe Marchiori, a native of Rovigo but more or less resident in Venice, to ask him to apply his experience and knowledge to assist him in the management of what had become a sort of incubator of art celebrities.

It was at this point that Peggy Guggenheim stopped by, as though guided by a heavenly messenger, arriving from New York, Paris and London. Peggy would become a frequent visitor to the restaurant, and indeed, almost a sort of ambassador and mascot for it. In these poor and generous post-war years, the attendance of the artists became more and more assiduous and eminent.

The ingredients were now all there and the Angel took flight. Under the skilled management of Marchiori and with Renato Carrain’s passion and know-how, the restaurant’s tables witnessed a dynamic and prominent season in Italian modern art: as we mentioned above, it was here that the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti was founded by Pizzinato, Vedova, Santomaso, Guttuso, Birolli, Turcato, Corpora, Viani, Leoncillo, Franchini, Morlotti and Fazzini.

The best, one might say, of the new generation in the Italy of the recent liberation and of ethical, political, social and, of course, artistic commitment. But, as can be seen from a simple reading of these great names, the group included a number of very different and even opposing artistic currents and aesthetic trends.

In March 1950 the group was dissolved amidst controversy and the creation of new groupings. And where was its death certificate signed? At the Angelo, of course! And the Angelo itself retains the finest and richest traces of this story: the paintings that many of the artists left on its walls.

Legend whispers of payments made “in kind”: a meal for a work of art. This may indeed have been the case, but Renato Carrain, who defined the legend of the poor artist paying in kind a “fola”, a fairy tale, was himself a patron, since he commissioned some of the most important of these works, starting with the three famous and fascinating triptychs by Vedova, Santomaso and Pizzinato dedicated to illustrating the history and arts of Venice in their own way.  

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