From 4 October 2014 to 8 March 2015 within the splendour and romantic atmosphere of Venice, the exhibition at Fortuny mansion (closing date coincides with the Woman’s Feast) will celebrate the myth of the woman who had captured Gabriele D’Annunzio most (as one of his many lovers) and who likewise, with her follies became the muse of the greatest artists of that time, from Boldini to Bakst, Marinetti to Balla, Man Ray to Alberto Martini, and Van Dongen to Romaine Brooks. Marchioness Casati was born in Milan in 1881, but the city she loved most was Venice, the stage on which her extravagant life unfolded and the ideal setting for this first extraordinary exhibition that highlights a modern woman, who at the dawn of the 20th century drew attention for her exaggerated makeup, transgressive performances and over-the-top lifestyle, transforming herself into a work of art and living legend. The exhibition counts over a hundred paintings, statues, jewels, clothes and photographs autographed by the greatest artists of that time, courtesy of museums and international collections gathered in the once famed workshop-home of Mariano Fortuny. Participating in this ode to the delights and allure of the “Divine Marchioness” are painters, sculptors and photographers who captured her charm: not  only Alberto Martini, Augustus Edwin John, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Kes van Dongen, Baron Adolph de Meyer, Cecil Beaton but also Romaine Brooks, Ignacio Zuloaga, Jacob Epstein and Man Ray. The Marchioness was bizarre, extrovert, and wore real pythons around her neck, ostentating a nude look which only present-day Madonna could equal, and could be defined as a forerunner of performing art and the more modern body art. An elegant, fatal and perverse woman, she fascinates also the public, simple visitors and admirers of this fantastic and unique exhibition, liberating our minds on flights of fancy and poignant journeys of emotions. On moving to Paris at the start of the 1920s she became the icon of the avant garde movements. Years of squandering then left Luisa Amman Casati destitute, forced to sell all her property. The “stolen” shots during the London period, taken by Cecil Beaton – author also of the portrait of Marisa Berenson in the guise of Casati, painted in 1971 and courtesy of the  National Gallery of Portraits in London – reveal a woman marked with the signs of time and difficulties, but always the knowing artifice of her own eternal image. In 1954 Jack Kerouac wrote, “San Francisco Blues,” which gathers some poems dedicated to her. Her life ended in poverty in London 1957 where she lived in a one-room lodging, constantly wearing an old leopard-fur coat, convinced that she could communicate through telepathy with the birds. On June 1, after a spiritist ritual conducted with her friend Sydney Farner, she died in solitude, of a stroke. On 5 June she was buried with the stuffed  spoils  of her pet Pekinese and a pair of false lashes, at the Brompton cemetery in Kensington. Her funeral was attended only by her niece and a few friends. We want to remember her as the marvellous figure that she was, inviting all with MFM to appreciate these splendid  images we selected for you


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