TREVISO - A modern, contemporary genius who looked to the ancient to reinvent it.
The last great artist of the eighteenth century and the first of the nineteenth century.
A Venetian who made himself, the entrepreneur of himself who left a country village to conquer the world.
This is how Treviso wants to celebrate Antonio Canova.
To tell the unattainable master of immortal masterpieces of sculpture is the Bailo Museum with the exhibition 'Canova, Treviso glory.
From classical beauty to the romantic announcement 'which until 25 September combines over 150 works, including plaster casts, marbles, engravings and paintings to compose the mosaic of a multifaceted character, also very attentive to the care of his own image.
"At the time it was an absolute novelty, a real marketing operation to make himself known. Today he would be considered the king of the selfie", jokes Fabrizio Malachin, director of the museum and creator of the tribute to the sculptor from Possagno, referring to the space that the artist wanted to reserve for his portraits.
"After the Second World War - he points out - he was spoken of very badly. Neoclassicism was seen as the starting point of art that had had its splendor during Fascism. A prestigious critic such as Roberto Longhi called him 'a born sculptor died'".
The homage that Treviso pays him refers to the first absolute monographic organized in 1957 by the director of the city museum Luigi Coletti which marked the beginning of the revaluation and rediscovery of Canova,
showing how he was able to move away from classicism "by drawing inspiration from the models of antiquity without copying, reinterpreting them in a constant comparison between ancient and modern, and becoming in the nineteenth century an herald of Romanticism".
After all, the myth of the child prodigy who accompanied Canova and which he himself denied, was born in 1803 right in the capital of the Marca with the legend that he was the child author of a lion modeled in butter for a cake left without decoration destined for a noble banquet. .
"Canova was absolutely modern - explains Malachin - he did not just follow the fashions and rules of the moment that were based on Winckelmann. He left the Venetian countryside and conquered Venice, then Rome, the great European courts and even America with the portrait of Washington.
Apollo of the Belvedere in comparison with the triumphant Perseus and the Borghese Gladiator with his Creugante.
A real gem is the preparatory plaster of the dying horse, exhibited for the first time, which he used for the famous group of Theseus fighting with the centaur, today in Vienna.
The room with the Venus who converses with the goddess from the carnal side b painted by Francesco Hayez in 1830 and the more modest and traditional Diana the huntress, in the canvas of the same year by Pelagio Pelagi, is very suggestive.
In a display case, also a first fruit, there is the funerary mask and the cast of the artist's right hand.
The wonders of the most well-known engravings and works alternate with the two bas-reliefs of the heritage of the Generali Group just restored - "true sculpted painting" -, the enormous volume with 86 Canovian engravings donated by his brother Giambattista Sartori in Treviso in 1837, the precious sketch of the Three Graces, the three-dimensional effect photos of Canova's 'musts' reinterpreted by Fabio Zonta, the first multimedia cartoon for children ever made in a museum.
The work that best represents him - comments Malachin - is the original cast of Cupid and Psyche, which came out of Canova's workshop and which his brother brought back to Possagno after his death.
It is the image of Platonic love that was used for the exhibition 65 years ago that we too have taken up as an ideal closing of the circle ".