Axel Vervoordt, Doge of Design
Kathryn Hixson -- Interior Design, 8/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
The American art pilgrims are returning from this summer's European tour—and the whispers have started to circulate: "Did you see Axel Vervoordt at the Palazzo Fortuny?" One of the many exhibitions held in conjunction with the Biennale di Venezia, the Dutch merchant-designer's "Artempo: Where Time Becomes Art" is quietly earning the title of the best thing in Venice.
Tucked away in the labyrinth of small streets off the Grand Canal, the Gothic home of the Museo Fortuny has been transformed, for the duration of the show, by a collection of contemporary artwork and hundreds of antiques, antiquities, and prehistoric objects, all assembled by Vervoordt's team of independent curators. To announce the show, he commissioned El Anatsui to create the shimmering tapestry that veils the palazzo's facade. This rippling surface is actually made of thousands of aluminum liquor-bottle caps, sewed together with copper thread, but it mimics the patterned kente cloth of Anatsui's native Ghana while simultaneously resonating with the sumptuousness of Mariano Fortuny's textiles.
Fortuny fabrics drew heavily on antiquity for their design while relying on new techniques for their manufacture. In the same way, Vervoordt consistently proves his ability to mix fine art with the everyday, the ancient with the avant-garde, the local with the global. It's a perfect storm of material culture.