Dream of Venice Architecture : a new book & exhibition by Riccardo de Cal

Venice is a magical city. Its streets, alleys and canals form a maze to be explored and history literally drips from the walls. Whether its womanizer Casanova’s old haunts, ceremonial buildings built for the republic’s government or simply the sites of trysts between young lovers, every building has a story to tell. Add in the unique architecture drawing influences from the East, classical Rome and the Baroque and you have a real treat for all the senses. And this summer photographer Riccardo De Cal presents his exhibition, Into the Labyrinth, taken from his new book Dream of Venice Architecture at Venice’s famous Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Here’s what to expect.

Dream of Venice Architecture

The exhibition – Into the Labyrinth, Venetian architecture

De Cal graduated in architecture at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia before going on to develop a career as an award winning documentary maker and photographer. His work focuses on space and time and this summer’s exhibition certainly captures both with his evocative shots in and around the city.

St Mark's porticoes

St Mark’s porticoes

Inspired by novelist Jorge Luis Borge’s statement that the maze “is a building built to confuse people,” De Cal spent 3 months in late 2015 exploring La Serenissima before selecting views that evoke the labyrinthine structure of the city.

Sottopassagi underpassages dot the mystical city

Sottopassagi underpassages dot the mystical city

He describes the experience as being “like listening to a melody coming from the calli, and trying to find its origin within the labyrinth. I felt like a dowser in search of water. Photographing Venice was not an intellectual approach, but rather instinctive and subliminal instead.”
Dream of Venice Architecture

Zattere waterfront

From the multiple columns of St Mark’s Square, to the long low island of Giudecca, to the dark sottopassaggi underpassages through the heart of Venice De Cal captures the magic, mystery and magnificence with ease. The autumnal mists cloaking the city add an air of secrecy, bringing to mind the masked balls of Venetian carnival as everyone hides behind costume and disguise.

View of the Salute church's dome through the mist along the Grand Canal

View of the Salute church’s dome through the mist along the Grand Canal

And as you walk amongst the 20 or so photos of the exhibition, voices quote from a number of contributing architects who have built in Venice adding another dimension to the experience. Quoting from the likes of Japanese architect Tadao Ando, American Louise Braverman whose own work can be seen at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale and Italian designer Enrico Baleri, the audio brings the architecture to life.

Dream of Venice Architecture

The misty, magical and mysterious canals of Venice

The venue – Fondazione Querini Stampalia

The Fondazione Querini Stampalia is one of Venice’s most prestigious and best preserved “house-museums”, right in the heart of the city between St Mark’s and the Rialto Bridge. Originally owned by the noble Venetian Querini Stampalia family, the house has been open to visitors since 1869 presented as an historic family home depicting daily life.

Dream of Venice Architecture

Inside the noble rooms of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia

The noble floor recreates the sumptuous living quarters, filled with precious furniture, paintings, porcelains and luxurious frescoes. And the foundation also includes an extensive archive, a library and an art gallery including paintings by Bellini, Tiepolo and Pietro Longhi.

Located just south of the Church of Santa Maria Formosa, in the district of Castello, the Querini Stampalia is the perfect Venetian setting for Riccardo De Cal’s reflective review of Venice’s stunning architecture.

Detail on the iconic Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal

Detail on the iconic Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal

The book – Dream of Venice Architecture

Riccardo De Cal’s book, Dream of Venice Architecture, published by Bella Figura Publications is dedicated to Venice as a living city. And just like the earlier book Dream of Venice, includes stunning photographs conjuring up the most familiar and the most secret views of this beloved city accompanied by quotes from Venetophile contributors.

Dream of Venice - another fabulous collection of Venetian photographs

Dream of Venice – another fabulous collection of Venetian photographs

Do you dream of Venice?

Personally I’ve been dreaming of Venice since I was a youngster and have been lucky enough to experience the joys of actually living in the city. If you ever have the chance, I can definitely recommend it! And I’m thrilled that this new exhibition and book are bringing together some of the most beautiful, atmospheric and evocative photos of our beloved city. So if you’re visiting this summer, make sure to check out Into the Labyrinth at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Or give yourself a boost with the book if you can’t make the trip and bring the magic of Venice to you at home. In the meantime, leave me a comment with your memories of Venice’s architecture – what’s your favourite building and why? Ci vediamo lì, See you there!

Venetian rooftops

Venetian rooftops


Useful information

Exhibition website (in Italian) here 

Dates : Friday June 17th – Sunday August 21st, 2016

Where : Fondazione Querini Stampalia, House number 5252, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Castello district, 30122 Venice

Buy the books : Dream of Venice Architecture or Dream of Venice

Dream of Venice Architecture

Into the Labyrinth

All photos © Riccardo De Cal 2016

A Hole In My Shoe

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2 Responses to Dream of Venice Architecture : a new book & exhibition by Riccardo de Cal

  1. Ooh, I heard that this new book is out, and now I don’t want to wait any longer to get it!

    • DreamDiscoverItalia.com says:

      Its fabulous Kathy – I bet you’ll recognise many of the spots! And don’t forget to check out the exhibition at the Querini Stampalia too not that you need an excuse to go there I’m sure!! Happy exploring!! :o)

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