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Venetian Views: The Grand Canal

Though divided by thousands of miles of water and differences in language, what is one thing that Indianapolis and Venice have in common? Canals! Though Venice’s infrastructure is based on these waterways, the original purpose of the Indiana Central Canal was to provide a trade route, connecting the Wabash and Erie Canal to the Ohio River. Due to budgetary shortfalls, the full scope of the project was never completed, with the operational Canal now serving as a place of recreation, adding to the beauty of our city.

Here’s the Central Canal in 1894, in a work from the IMA’s collection by Richard Buckner Gruelle:

Richard Buckner Gruelle, "The Canal Morning Effect," 1894, John Herron Fund.

Venice’s Grand Canal also has its roots in trade, and provides the main connecting thoroughfare in the heart of Venice.  We’ve been getting to know the Grand Canal very well – it’s our main route to and from the U.S. Pavilion and the evening events (that is – when we’re not walking, which is another experience in itself!).  Here’s a work by Vaughn Trowbridge (featured in the Venetian Views exhibition!) created eleven years after Gruelle’s view of the Indiana Canal:

Vaughn Trowbridge, "The Grand Canal, Venice," 1905; Bequest to Delavan Smith.

And here a photo of the Grand Canal today, as we head towards work:

The boats have been updated, and it’s definitely more crowded (and even more so, now that the Biennale crowd has kicked in), but a lot remains the same from that 1905 artwork.  Being surrounded by that level of preserved history is something we are conscious of every day, even if it means reminding ourselves to pause in between work to look around and take it all in.  Plus, it’s been pretty surreal taking a boat to work every day – maybe it’s something I should look at working into my IMA commute?

Filed under: Art, Exhibitions, The Collection, Travel, Venice Biennale

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