Golden age: Fabrizio Plessi gilds Venice’s Museo Correr

L’eta dell’oro by Fabrizio Plessi installation image
(Image credit: Alessandro Garofalo)

Opening this week, to coincide with the first day of the Venice film festival, the site specific work ‘L’età dell’oro' by the pioneering Italian video artist Fabrizio Plessi, fills all 15 first floor windows of the facade of the Museo Correr, which takes up the whole of the western end of Piazza San Marco. 

Sponsored by the House of Dior, the piece with its title translated as ‘The Golden Age', references the Venetian gilding of Byzantine mosaics. The artist hopes it will ‘raise the temperature’ in the city, slowly awakening from the profound effects of Covid-19. 

Image of sketches by Fabrizio Plessi

(Image credit: press)

Image of PAX sketches by Fabrizio Plessi

Installation sketches by Fabrizio Plessi

(Image credit: press)

The 15 panels of cascading liquid gold, in which appear the text ‘PAXI TI BI' meaning ‘Peace to you' in Latin, are accompanied by the sound of water and piano music written and performed by Michael Nyman. Plessi, the 80 year old artist, born in Reggio Emilia, often uses water and fire in his work, which he refers to as ‘focal points giving energy to our lives’.

He describes ‘L’età dell’oro' containing characteristics which are ‘fluid, elastic and movable’, that are central to Venice, the city that’s been his home for decades. Piazza San Marco is ‘a symphony of stone and harmony’ and this work, taking up a whole quarter of the facade of the Piazza, is in dialog with the tower of San Marco on the eastern side. A summer electrical storm that passed through Italy earlier this week left Piazza San Marco drenched, added a pleasing infinite reflection to the photos taken the night before the opening, serving further to emphasise the water in Plessi’s work.

‘L’età dell’oro', originally scheduled for May this year, proceeds Fabrizio Plessi’s upcoming retrospective at Palazzo Ca’Pesaro, also moved forward from its autumn opening and now postponed to the spring of 2021. Venice was in total lockdown between March and May, and only from the first week of June were Italians permitted to travel between regions and International visitors welcomed back. Most of us will remember unforgettable images of the eerily empty city. The cultural life of the city is very important, for residents, Italians and international visitors. Showing resilience, museums started to reopen from early June, initially just at the weekends.  

This is a Covid-19 social distancing friendly installation, visible only from outside in the square. The official ‘opening’ or switching on earlier this week included an intimate cocktail seated outside at Caffé Florian. This is reminder that Venice is alive.

L’età dell’oro by Fabrizio Plessi installation image

(Image credit: press)

L’età dell’oro by Fabrizio Plessi installation image with hanging lights

(Image credit: press)


Also known as Picky Nicky, Nick Vinson has contributed to Wallpaper* Magazine for the past 21 years. He runs Vinson&Co, a London-based bureau specialising in creative direction and interiors for the luxury goods industry. As both an expert and fan of Made in Italy, he divides his time between London and Florence and has decades of experience in the industry as a critic, curator and editor.