Reviews

Dream of Venice Architecture

Olivetti Store Venice

 

Italy Magazine on Dream of Venice Architecture

“For all those interested in understanding Venice on a deeper level, Dream of Venice Architecture is a must,” writes Silvia Donati for Italy Magazine. The editor quotes the book’s photographer, Riccardo De Cal as saying, “The biggest challenge was to go beyond the ‘usual’ Venice. In contrast with the massive influx of tourists of recent years, I liked the idea of showing an empty city, steeped only in its millennial history. This is why I felt the need to shoot in the coldest and most inhospitable months, which also happen to be those closest to my idea of Venice. What has stuck with me most of my years living in Venice as a student are the cold, the humidity, the fog, the acqua alta I woke up to on certain mornings, the steps resounding in the deserted calli. I tried to balance my experience of Venice with the need to stay faithful to the contributors’ words.”

Donati notes, “It is indeed a different vision of Venice we get from the book, one that goes beyond St. Mark’s square and its immediate surroundings, the part of Venice favored by the tourist masses who too often seem to ignore how fragile the city has become, and how it needs to be respected and protected. Dream of Venice Architecture hopes to bring attention to the risks the city is facing.

Form Magazine on Dream of Venice Architecture

In an insightful piece for Form magazine, Michael Webb writes, “More than a century ago, Henry James declared that there was nothing more to be written about Venice—the subject had been exhausted—but hundreds of books on La Serenissima have been published since then. Here is one that is as arresting as a first encounter with Venice, as seen by Riccardo De Cal, a photographer of rare sensitivity, with brief comments by 36 architects and architectural writers, Dream of Venice Architecture.”

In closing Webb offers, “These unpeopled images demonstrate that the genius of place lies less in the celebrated monuments and palaces that line the Grand Canal, than in the back alleys and shadowy porticoes, crumbling facades and telling details. To appreciate the city’s beauty, linger in a tiny campo where neighbors bustle and children play around the stone well. Venture out at night when the city’s stillness is disturbed only by water lapping the quays. Go in winter when mist shrouds the buildings and the gondolas are snugly wrapped. And, at any season, spend a few hours in the Foundation Querini Stampalia, with its library, Guardi paintings, and marvelous interventions by Carlo Scarpa. You’ll probably have it to yourself and it perfectly expresses the timeless magic of Venice.”

Aqua Alta in Dream of Venice Architecture

 

Abitare on Dream of Venice Architecture

Writing for Abitare, Elena Franzoia declares that Dream of Venice Architecture is a new book that “presents the personal photographic journey of the lagoon city from Asolo director, Riccardo De Cal, a refined interpreter of the work of Carlo Scarpa.” In the English version of the review, the point is made that “It’s no coincidence then that Scarpa’s oeuvre is one of the protagonists in the recent volume Dream of Venice Architecture, which sees De Cal in the guise of photographer present a foggy and wintery city, silent and nocturnal, far removed from the stereotypes of its globalised image.” Franzoia also notes, “Following his university studies at the IUAV di Venezia, the Asolo-born director Riccardo De Cal gifted to the world of architecture and art objects sensitive and award-winning medium-length films, which focused especially on Venetian culture. The stand-outs among these were Vitrorum Natura (2006), Memoriae Causa (2007), Hortus Conclusus (2008), Carlo Scarpa e l’origine delle cose (2009) and Nullo die sine linea. Carlo Scarpa a Castelvecchio (2011), in which De Cal reinterpreted with exquisite attention to detail the works of the great Venetian architect.” A photo gallery of De Cal’s breathtaking images is also featured.

 

La Venessiana on Dream of Venice Architecture

In a compelling opening for her review on Dream of Venice Architecture, Iris Loredana, writing for La Venessiana, sets the scene: “Hortus Conclusus. The Human City. Midnight Blue.” She deems the book a novel yet ancient concept: “…and in our opinion, so revealing about the layers and fabric of the floating town, stretching from private to public and beyond into the Lagoon.” Exploring the images by Riccardo De Cal through the lens of aspects inherent in Venetian style, Loredana notes, “…we were struck by the hues of Gold and Midnight Blue used so often in Dream of Venice Architecture. It’s not just any combination but reflects the colors historians associate with many defining moments in Venetian history.”

 

Interior Design on Dream of Venice Architecture

“A dream of a book,” declare the editors of Interior Design magazine. “Noted architects, interior and product designers, professors, and journalists contributed the three dozen brief yet eloquent essays, each complemented by an appropriate and often stunning image by Riccardo De Cal. From Tadao Ando, who has designed the interiors of the François Pinalut Foundation’s two contemporary art museums, occupying the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana: ‘The projects in Venice brought me chances to contemplate what architecture should be, which became a precious experience for me.’ Interior Design Hall of Fame member Annabelle Selldorf adds, “Venice is. . .tricky. There is nothing innocent or forthright, and deception is everywhere. . . . By challenging my sense of order and hierarchy Venice gives me the desire to probe beyond the rational.”

 

Dream of Venice Architecture Bosch

ArchDaily on Dream of Venice Architecture

ArchDaily published a comprehensive selection of essays from the book, which thrills us, as the material shines such an important light on how Venice inspires people. Quoting Dream of Venice Architecture publisher JoAnn Locktov, the site notes: “Riccardo De Cal took a photograph for each essay. He has illustrated the words with an evocative Venice; one that basks in blue winter light, sleeps quietly and becomes an apparition when shrouded in fog. This is the Venice that greets you when you turn a corner and enter an empty campo. This is the Venice that is a contemplative paradox of stone and air. If we can understand what Venice offers us, we will respect her fragility. We will continue to learn her lessons, and cherish her existence.”

 

Curbed on Dream of Venice Architecture

Reviewing Dream of Venice Architecture, Curbed examines “the dreamy lost city in a lagoon”: “Few cities offer as scenic a setting as canal-lined Venice, with a tapestry of buildings lining the waterways, all uniquely designed to stand out in this singular setting. It’s a centuries old artifact adrift in the modern world, making it a perfect subject for architects and architectural critics to wax poetic…The short essays, recounting the construction quirks, hidden secrets, and one-of-a-kind structures of Venice, are experienced like the flashes of memory, the type you might take away from your own trip. It’s a quick, engaging read, especially for those who have visited, improved by the addition of photos from Riccardo De Cal. Ranging from landscape portraits and fog-laden piazzas to noir-like visions of evening enveloping ancient architecture, the images help provide a sense of familiarity to the recollections and remembrances. Despite the entertaining essays, Venice can still seem like more of a vision than a physical place.”

 

San Marco in Venice

 

Architizer on Dream of Venice Architecture

Writing for Architizer, Pat Finn remarks, “If you’ve been reading Architizer this past week, you know that the Venice Biennale is finally upon us. This year’s festival promises to be memorable indeed, with films, proposals and exhibits addressing the most pressing topics in architecture today. If you are lucky enough to attend the Biennale this year, there will certainly be no shortage of attractions to hold your attention. However, it would be a mistake to spend your entire stay in Venice at the exhibitions. A trip to Venice is hardly complete without venturing into the city itself and visiting the manifold architectural treasures that have existed there for centuries.” Deeming Dream of Venice Architecture “a guidebook” with “a collection of stunning photos of Venice landmarks paired with reflections on the city written by famous architects,” he adds, “This magnificent coffee table book was just released this spring by Bella Figura Publications and features photographs by the esteemed Riccardo De Cal. Architecture enthusiasts visiting Venice for the first time will surely find much of interest in these pages.”

 

Architect’s Toy Box on Dream of Venice Architecture

Rita Catinella Orrell, LEED GA, asks some astute questions of Dream of Venice Architecture’s publisher JoAnn Locktov, deeming the book one that is dedicated to the mystery and beauty of contemporary Venice. “It is a follow up to Dream of Venice, a 2014 edition including photographs by Charles Christopher and a foreword by Frances Mayes that I reviewed here,” she wrote. With her question, “Why did you want to do a second book in the series?” Orrell prompted me to shed light on one of the main purposes of the book: “I wanted to understand how Venice had inspired contemporary architects; how her primarily ancient structures were still relevant to 21st century urban design.”

 

The Architect’s Newspaper on Dream of Venice Architecture

Architects Newspaper on Dream of Venice Architecture

 

Dream of Venice Architecture features photographs of Venice from unusual vantage points,” says The Architect’s Newspaper, “recasting it as a place yet to be discovered. Why did the Venetians build theircity in such an unlikely place? And how ever did they succeed in doing so? These are the central questions architect and historian Richard Goy poses in his introduction…” Quoting Goy, the editors note that the first question is easy to answer: The first Venetians settled in the lagoon to escape the violent breakdown of the Roman Empire on the mainland. “But how, amid the muddy shoals of a brackish lagoon, did they manage to build such a strange and extravagant city?” The shrewd answer, The Architect’s Newspaper points out, “It is a question that can inform, inspire—and haunt—an entire architectural career.”

Huffington Post on Dream of Venice Architecture

Michael Welton, writing for the Huffington Post, proclaims Dream of Venice Architecture “a gem, a vision and a little slice of heaven.” He adds, “Richard Goy’s introduction alone is worth the price of admission. It’s an educational treatise on the dialect, history and highly complex urban plan of this place that’s more living organism than urban center. And it’s highly readable.” Referring to Carlo Scarpa, Welton notes, “That mid-20th-century architect certainly gets his fair share of admiring prose in the book. Robert McCarter offers keen insights into his renovation of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia; Anna Catrin Schultz writes of his designs for the Giardini della Biennale; Mario Botta, about his humanist sensibility; and Richard Murphy writes of his visit to Scarpa’s tile manufacturer, so that he can take a little piece of the Italian master back to Edinburgh with him.” Ending his piece with a crescendo, he declares, “If ever there were a worthy cause, this book is it. The fact that it is a compelling read and a visual feast is simply a bonus.”

 

Dream of Venice Architecture Botta essay

 

New York Spaces Interviews Publisher JoAnn Locktov

In an interview with editor JoAnn Locktov, New York Spaces asked: “What do you think we can learn from a city that is over 1,500 years old?” And JoAnn Locktov answered, “We can learn how to harmonize architecture with nature, design for seduction, respect craftsmanship, cherish innovation, and embrace contradiction. We can learn that we are stronger when we integrate cultures beyond our own and recognize that survival is an act of faith, wisdom, and imagination. We can learn that there is unfathomable beauty in the patina of age, beyond romanticism.” Highlighting a favorite, the magazine notes by way of a question: “What is it about Venice that invites exploration and discovery? We love that Rocco Yim talked about this in his essay!” JoAnn Locktov explains, “In Venice you only have two choices for transportation, you can walk, or take a boat. There are no cars. It is a viscerally inviting city and impossible to navigate as Annabelle Selldorf writes by “conscious understanding.” Since the city was built with the front of homes facing the water, the “streets” are narrow and winding afterthoughts, with few right angles. It is a handcrafted city, and often, as Michael Welton discovered, in the most surprising of places, it can even—in all its aquatic strangeness—feel like home. It is essentially impossible not to get lost, so if you can let go of your GPS driven need to know, you will be delightfully astonished when you least expect it.”

 

Dream of Venice Architecture Goy essay

 

Archidose on Dream of Venice Architecture

On his noted blog Archidose, John Hill tells readers that he received Dream of Venice Architecture in the mail a week before he traveled to Venice to cover the Biennale for World-Architects. About its point of view, he writes, “Just think of Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino’s unending ways of describing Venice through the imagination (that book makes at least one appearance in Dream of Venice Architecture). Descriptions here are multifarious, but what interests me the most are De Cal’s photos accompanying the flights of fancy on the city of canals and Gothic buildings. For when I think of my trips to Venice, they all happened in the spring and summer, when the weather was agreeable and the sun was shining. De Cal’s photos, on the other hand, reveal Venice in the fog, at night, when it is damp, dark and free of throngs of tourists – only a few shots reveal the sun, but only at dawn or dusk and on the side of a building or reflected in a canal. The dampness of the buildings in his photos (sometimes literally damp, sometimes just saturated with color and texture) makes me think of Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark, which is all about Venice in the winter, when it is unavoidably cold and damp. In my mind the winter Venice – that of fog, cold, and relative emptiness – is what spawned the masked celebrations the city is known for; they could hardly have come about from the sunny, warm spring and summer. Venice in the winter is, if anything, the Venice of my dreams, and therefore the one, thanks to this book and Brodsky’s, I’d like to experience next.”

 

Horton essay Dream of Venice Architecture.

 

Architects + Artisans on Dream of Venice Architecture

During an interview with Dream of Venice Architecture’s photographer Ricardo De Cal, Architects + Artisans asked, “The challenges involved?” De Cal answered, “The most arduous challenge was trying to avoid postcard-photos. In Venice it is apparently easy to take nice photos. But it is only an illusion, coming from its intrinsic beauty. Instead, as I said, it is one of the most difficult places to photograph. Speaking of architecture photography, also, it is useful reminding that there are no straight lines in Venice: everything is slanted in three axes! Not nice, when you try to take a correct and balanced photo.”

Italian Notes on Dream of Venice Architecture

“Venice is not just place, but a state of mind,” notes Mette Vaabengaard of Italian Notes. “And Bella Figura Publications’ ‘Dream of Venice Architecture’ captures both aspects.” She adds, “For someone like me who collects quotes about Venice, Dream of Venice Architecture is a goldmine. The photos by Riccardo De Cal are evocative and elusive like dreams placing a shroud of mystery over the urban spaces. And the short essays capture the duality between water and land, nature and technology, opulence and decay, grandeur and modesty, fluidity and firmness, shimmering light and dense fog that is Venice. Nothing in Venice is commonplace either or.”

Another Venice on Dream of Venice Architecture

On his blog Another Venice, the photographer and editor of L’Indice Totale Martino Pietropoli, writes that because Venice is the most photographed city in the world, he considers it “unphotographable”; he can no longer find pictures of Venice that he admires because “Venice has been photographically explored and exploited down to its bones.” Then he admits this is what he thought before seeing Dream of Venice Architecture: “I wanted to see a brand new city and the one photographed by De Cal is just like that: unpublished or at least little known. There are of course famous places because Venice is also made of places like Piazza San Marco, the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Grand Canal. But its hidden places are the ones that really give flavor to those pictures: the Querini Stampalia, the Museum of Natural History, a detail of the Fenice. The details are the ones that are noticed less in a place like that, because the whole city is so surreal and alienating that the mind fails to process any other information. The mind wanders bewildered and perched between the calli and the fondamenta. A place like this cannot exist. Yet there she is.”

 

Dream of Venice Architecture Levy

 

The Modern Sybarite on Dream of Venice Architecture

Reviewing Dream of Venice Architecture on his blog The Modern Sybarite, Richard Rabel writes, “Photographer Riccardo De Cal’s images of La Serenissima give wonderful life to their words and give us a glimpse of his private Venice where the present meets the past in mist shrouded piazzas and modern spaces.” This is one reviewer who knows Venice well: “For me personally, Venice is the city where I can breathe history. Having first visited over three decades ago, it’s the one city in the world where not so much has changed. Architect Richard Goy’s enthralling introduction speaks to the foundations and building of the city. He recounts how the earliest Venetians took refuge from the chaotic mainland in the 5th century creating their homes and buildings on the islands by driving millions of wooden piles into the clay and then building the equivalent of horizontal rafts on top, from which the city we see today sprung. Imagine that – some parts of the city nowadays are still held together by wooden piles that are over 700 years old (and by some accounts magically still in perfect shape).” In conclusion, he adds: “A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Dream of Venice Architecture will go to the Foundation Querini Stampalia. The Foundation was the vision of the illustrious family whose name it bears and is the legacy of Count Giovanni Querini Stampalia who had the great foresight to leave his Palazzo and all his family’s possessions to the city in 1869 for the whole world to enjoy…We can all thank Locktov for generously supporting the Foundation and the life it breathes into this remarkable city.”

 

Joseph Freenor on Dream of Venice Architecture

After his beautiful lead expressing how difficult it can be to follow your own success, Joseph Freenor writes of Dream of Venice Architecture: “Having spent so much time with JoAnn Locktov’s first book on Venice I had every reason to believe that she would put a second masterpiece alongside the first, and I would be writing the type of book review I’m writing now. But I cannot say such things unless I also point out the sheer difficulty of what has been accomplished here from the banishing of every negative thought or fear JoAnn may have entertained at three o’clock in the morning (doubts about current projects are always nocturnal visitors) to actually doing the work itself. It’s not enough to know you can. You still have to actually do it, a feat made all the more difficult for JoAnn by her own first act. What she did the first time around was little short of a miracle, an absolutely flawlessly realized concept. It had form and meaning and surprises and insights and reminisces and through it all a love for the city that was absolutely palpable. When I finished reading her book, my first thought was on the completeness of the project itself, but right there at the end of the book was that little blurb on JoAnn. She was both editor and publisher, and she was dedicated to publishing books on Venice. There would be more.”

 

Dream Discover Italia on Into the Labyrinth

Writing about the exhibition, Into the Labyrinth, which was inspired by Riccardo De Cal’s photographing Venice for our book Dream of Venice Architecture and is on view at the famed Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Dream Discover Italia notes, “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…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.” There is much more in this review, which makes it a worthwhile read, including photography that is included in the exhibition.

 

Dream of Venice Architecture

GoNOMAD on Dream of Venice Architecture

GoNOMAD calls Dream of Venice Architecture a lush and rich collection of art photos of the city’s buildings and streets. “We all, millions of us, each have our own personal Venice, a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, smells, memories, reflections—some fleeting or perhaps just fragmented shards of images…and infinite mosaic as rich and complex as those in the basilica,” the editors write, quoting the introduction written by Richard J. Goy. “Every one is different.”

“Dream of Venice Architecture will transport you to Venice with its incredible selection of images,” GoNOMAD’s editors also declare, adding that the book is “an intimate journey through the remarkable Venetian urban landscape” written by “a cadre of notable international architects and architectural writers” who explore “the elements that make Venice unique in the world.”

New York Spaces Magazine Mentions Dream of Venice Architecture

“Love Italian Architecture?” Deborah L. Martin, writing for New York Spaces magazine, asks. “Read Dream of Venice Architecture from Bella Figura Publications,” she insists. Calling it “a visual and poetic ode to this enchanting city filled with important art, architecture, and cultural history,” she notes that the book is “a tour of one of the world’s greatest cities.”

 

Dream of Venice

In his Huffington Post article titled Venice, in Prose and Photographs, J. Michael Welton remarks, “If Venice is a dream state, then a new book about the city built on a lagoon is its vivid interpretation.” He declares it a book full of visions—some reverential images captured by Charles Christopher; others prose poetry from the likes of Frances Mayes, Peggy Guggenheim, Patricia Highsmith, Erica Jong and Woody Allen. Of his photographic fascination with Venice that served as the springboard for the book, Christopher told Welton, “I was thrilled by it—I ran around all by myself and vowed to come back. I found a bridge right behind the opera house and fell in love with it and remembered it.” His vow was realized 32 years later when he returned and began to photograph the first serious photographs of his career. “They capture the essence of the city—its mystery, its lyrical beauty and even the illusionary nefariousness of its narrow passages,” Welton contends. “Eschewing the common gondola shots, Christopher was informed instead by the 1973 psychological thriller, Don’t Look Now, starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. The fact is, there is nothing commonplace about this city as seen through his lens.”

 

Dream of Venice

 

Aishti magazine describes Dream of Venice as “A dreamy take on the Italian city,” adding, “JoAnn Locktov may own nearly every book ever published about Venice…but when she discovered the ethereal photographs that Charles Christopher had taken there in 2011, she decided that it was time for one more.” The magazine’s editors salute this decision, calling the photographer’s images “mysterious, shimmering and in some cases, near-sinister.” They also agreed with Locktov’s view that the words intermingled with these photographs needed to be fresh, quoting the book’s muse: “Everything has already been said, so we had to find the people who could add to the knowledge and descriptions and understanding.” Because he focused on the aspects of Venice that illustrate the city’s silence and embody its mystery, Aishti deemed Christopher’s photography techniques as a little less than methodical, a positive happenstance given he saw the exercise as an opportunity to slow down. “I could go down any dark alley I wanted to and have space for myself to explore, and not rush,” he is quoted as saying. “In life, it seems like we’re always rushing.” As a parting salvo, the review makes it clear that rushing is an unlikely scenario for anyone perusing this book.

OG Venice Italy Travel Guide titled its review of Dream of Venice “A Venice All Its Own,” noting, “It feels like a dream, but isn’t one. JoAnn Locktov and Charles Christopher have created a book that captures the siren song of the living Venice—heard in fleeting moments by a fortunate few—and conveys it beautifully to anyone lucky enough to flip through the pages” of the book. To close the beautifully written narrative, editors wrote, “And who wouldn’t want to lose himself in this place where, as described by Frances Mayes, ‘Nowhere is the moon so powerful, enormous, so…heavenly’? People are going to dream. Let them dream of Venice!”

Early in their review of Dream of Venice, editors of Italian Notes offered this caveat: “There are no photographic clichés of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Or the Bridge of Sighs.” From a publication with such a savvy point of view of Italy, this is praise indeed. The editors go on to say, “Instead Charles Christopher’s camera captures the spirit of Venice. There are shadows glimpsed in passing, deserted alleyways, decaying beauty, reflections of darkness and light and mysterious shapes emerging through the fog. You can see the silence of the car-free city, breathe the characteristic mixture of wet building blocks and salty air, and feel the tiny pinpricks of moisture on your skin, just by looking at the pictures. It’s almost like being there.”

 

Dream of Venice

 

A Garden In Venice calls Dream of Venice “the travel companion to take in the floating city with all sense,” noting it presents “Venice wrapped in the colors of the rainbow—changing constantly, according to season, time of day, clouds, sunshine, cold or warm weather.” The writer goes on to give the book the supreme compliment: “When you grow up in such an environment, you get quite accustomed to beauty, but still look for it in every book on Venice you set your eyes on. More often than not, it’s disappointment…Now imagine what happened when I showed the new book Dream of Venice around…” What took place was a feast of fabulous feedback, such as the response by the journalist’s 92-year-old grandmother, a Venetian, who said, “this is the finest winter portrait of Venice I have ever seen.”

 

Charles Christopher's photographs of Venice make up the visuals of Dream of Venice

Other Reviews of Dream of Venice

Listen to a podcast on Savoring Italy featuring an interview with the editor:

Online Publications or Print Pubs with Online Versions:

Europe for Visitors

Renaissance Rules

David Hewson

Saxon Henry

The Decorating Diva

New York Spaces

Angeleno

Ciao Amalfi

Bleeding Espresso

Venice Style

Go Italy

Italy Chronicles

CFT411

Eye on Italy

Architects and Artisans

Monica Cesarato

Sophia Kahn Fine Art

Courtney Price Design

Orna O’Reilly

The Male Harem

Italy Explained

The Antiques Diva

Modern Sybarite

Venice Gondola

The Local Italy

ICG [the International Cinematographers Guild magazine]

Publications with Only Print Versions:

Italian Tribune