Here are half a dozen shots of works by contemporary Italian pop artist Giuseppe Veneziano that I came across a few weeks ago at the Contini Gallery in Venice. But before you scroll down, a warning: If you’re in a place that will consider the exposed breasts of Patty and Selma Bouvier lewd, well, I am truly sorry for you. And know that this post is probably NSFW.
If you’re familiar with Veneziano’s work, it’s likely due to the controversy a few of his pieces have stirred. Among the most notable is Madonna del Terzo Reich or The Madonna of the Third Reich, a pop remake of Raphael’s Small Cowper Madonna in which a uniformed baby Hitler snuggles with the virgin mother. Predictably, it unleashed an uproar in religious circles when it was included in exhibitions in 2009 and 2010. Veneziano’s response? “If art can’t provoke, what can it do?”
Touché. For what it’s worth.
That piece isn’t included here –as far as I know it wasn’t in the exhibit, either—but the half dozen here, all taken in the museum’s courtyard, at least begin to delve into the head of the 44-year-old Sicilian native who makes his home in the hubbub of Milan. It’s playful work, amusingly provocative, and at times mildly shocking. In all, great fun and a perfect respite from the crowds that continue to overrun Venice.
As is clear here, Veneziano doesn’t only reinterpret religious symbols. Musicians and pop music stars from Kurt Cobain (at top) to Jim Morrison and Lady Gaga have figured prominently. So have comic superheroes Spiderman and Superman, TV idols The Simpsons and everyone’s favorite villain –and deservedly so— McDonalds.
For more about Veneziano, check out his biography on the Contini Gallery website here. More of his work, including two of my favorites –a painting of Snow White, gun in hand, standing over a pile of dead dwarfs and a Hitler/Mussolini/Berlusconi orgy– are on Veneziano’s website here.