Culture23 March 2020

Antonio Canova

An unbridled passion for classics and beauty: Antonio Canova was an authentic self-made entrepreneur, three hundred years before this word was even invented.
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Antonio Canova was eight years old when he began working in the marble quarries of Possagno with his father. According to the customs of that time children had to grow up quickly and the family tradition, for the Canovas, was everything. That’s when he starts his learning process and approaches sculpture, he touches and feels the vibrations that, according to legends, the stone sends to the sculptors. The boy is obsessed with the Greek Classics, the harmony and the ethereal forms of the sculptures, he is captivated by beauty, an eager research that will lead him to be the most beloved exponent of  Neoclassicism. His first work representing Daedalus and Icarus is a dramatic set of lusciousness, enchantment and melancholy. In the way Canova sculpts the father who attaches the wings to his son, one can sense the invisible wire that will guide his entire life as an artist: sculpt the upcoming instant. 

The suspense of the moment of Eros and Psyche and the overwhelming imagination that strikes the observer has crossed the centuries as a constant miracle hidden in the in the silky folds of marble.

But Canova’s genius lies not only in his art but also in his incredibly forward-looking visions that led him to become a self-manager, thanks to his PR skills, he manages to make himself loved by his contemporaries and find prominent clients such as popes and even emperors. Napoleon Bonaparte is literally dazzled by his way of sculpting marble, so much so that he entrusts him with the portrait of his sister Paolina, a true influencer of that century, which the artist depicts as Venus.

The ability to guess the fashions of the times and his diplomatic skills allowed Antonio Canova to take a special place in the pantheon of the greats in a way that never ceases to be current, in a continuous and contemporary reinterpretation of classical beauty, from the very first time, when he managed to see one of the three graces in a marble block in the dusty quarries of Possagno.


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