23 May 2016
Everything you will see in this exhibition is pure invention. It is Francesco Vezzoli’s welcome to the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, where he is staging a tribute to the actress and star Marlene Dietrich in a show curated by Cristiano Raimondi. The artist has taken over Villa Sauber, an elegant residence from the Belle Époque in Monaco that is now the seat of the museum, and has molded it to reflect in every detail, from the door jambs to the wainscoting, the glamour emanated by the actress’s public image. It starts out from Dietrich’s presumed admiration for Alberto Giacometti, who it is claimed often took her to his studio in the hope of being able to make a portrait of her, and then enters a reliquary of effigies of the actress, imitations that flirt with the entire history of 20th-century art: from Matisse to Francis Bacon, from Magritte to Tamara de Lempicka. The artist drives home this irreverent parallel between art and Hollywood by turning one room of the museum into a movie theater for the screening of Marlene Redux (2006), a fictitious story of Vezzoli’s rise after the success of his documentary on the relationship between Marlene Dietrich and Anni Albers, a bizarre remake of Maximilian Schell’s film Marlene (1984), filled with references to many different spheres of culture, from Tristan Tzara to the formats of TV commercials devoted to the star system. The amusing coups de théâtre shatter the austere atmosphere created by the camouflage of Villa Sauber and the viewer is obliged to acknowledge the power of images in the construction of a myth, putting aside any distinction between mainstream, pop and conceptual. But the project of demystification of art carried out by Vezzoli is so convincing that it also functions the other way round, so that it is serious at the same as being playful, profound as well as superficial. Dietrich herself shines brightly as an icon and is equally resplendent in her golden tears of a woman. The same tears as adorn Vezzoli’s gaze on the cover of the imposing monograph edited by Cristiana Perrella and recently published by Rizzoli.
Dietrich Vezzoli in Villa Marlene, a project by Francesco Vezzoli
Curated by Cristiano Raimondi
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco – Villa Sauber
April 29-September 11