The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco – Villa Sauber presents Villa Marlene, a project devised by Francesco Vezzoli which retraces his work devoted to the mythical figure of Marlene Dietrich over more than 15 years. Between new works made specially for the exhibition and works presentes from large private collections, Villa Marlene proposes a fictional circuit in an abode which might have welcomed the actress, decorated with portraits in her likeness produced by the most important artists of her day and age.
The artist here creates a fantasy mise en scène—like a presentation of the diva’s life, it alerts viewers to this as soon as they arrive: “Everything that you will see in this exhibition is just pure fiction.”
In order to plunge visitors into a total immersion, Vezzoli takes possession of the interior of the Villa Sauber, one of the last Belle Epoque villas in Monaco, by giving it back its use value and its allegedly original décors. All the accordingly re-arranged rooms in the house are decorated, as if in an excess of megalomania, with pictures, posters, films and sculptures, which highlight the actress, and assert her status as a glamour icon.
From the famous embroideries of abstract masterpieces and portraits of divas, to interventions carried out on ancient statues, Vezzoli has always woven a powerful and irreverent dialogue with art history, film, the media, and the issue of power. In this way, his work talks about the strength of contemporary popular culture, and closely imitates the formats of different media such as advertising and film; he shares with us his present-day concerns which are the deep-seated ambiguity of truth, the seductiveness of the power of language, and the instability of the human being.
Although he uses a varied range of media, embroidery has remained a sort of “signature” praxis since the early days of his career. Used at the outset to imitate celebrities, practicing cross-stitching on the screen or behind it, it has, with time, become a more profound and contemplative activity which refers to a world of emotions, crises, obsessions and depressions, historically linked with his career.
His evident affinities for glamorous actresses reveal not so much a special interest for each one of them, nor even for their private life, but for the image which the media have created of them. It is in fact this narrative aspect, this reality taken from celebrity magazines and the gutter press which enthral the artist.
- Dietrich Vezzoli in Villa Marlene