Reflections of Venice, in Photos

General / People / Places / Products / October 21, 2019

Today, A+A is hosting a guest post from David C. Phillips, who has a new book of photography out called “Reflections of Venice” that captures the essence of that Italian city. Here’s what he has to say about it:

A New View of Venice? Impossible!

Venice, La Serenissima, that ancient and venerable city built on water, has been painted, designed, photographed, composed to and sung about, has been written about in prose and verse for hundreds if not thousands of years by many of the artistic and literary greats. “How, then, to portray her in a fresh, unique way – to contribute something different and worthwhile to this Venetian artistic cornucopia (if not glut)?” This was the question author/photographer David C. Phillips asked himself. This was the challenge.

“After spending many days searching for the different angle, the unusual light, the more decisive moment, I chanced one early morning to look down into the surface of one of the canals just as a motorboat was coming under a bridge, heading my way,” Phillips recalls in the introduction to Reflections of Venice. “Suddenly I saw through the normal surface of the water and beheld a whole world reflected there. As I looked ‘deeper’ I saw more and more. There was a beautiful scene – an impressionist painting of the bridge and buildings reflected in the water. The perspective was extraordinary. I heard the put-put of the outboard motor getting closer and it dawned on me that in a few seconds the entire, mesmerizing scene would vanish in the turbulent and destructive wash of the little boat, helmed by a man who was heedless of the havoc he was about to wreak.” Acting quickly, Phillips preserved the scene before it was washed away.

This was an epiphany and the birth of Reflections of Venice – Art and Beauty in the Water.

Over the next 6 years Phillips continued to visit Venice and collect an extraordinary series of photographs capturing the reflections in the canals. They seem to be an art form in themselves, ranging from mirror image realism, through degrees of impressionism to the surreal and abstract expressionism which great painters would be proud to have created. A final lengthy stay in 2017 during the acqua alta season when Venice is often flooded and becomes a whole reflective surface, resulted in the last images and video – for this is a multimedia book with nine videos in it. The challenge had been met. The results are a unique view of the much-portrayed city; certainly a view that the average tourist or visitor misses entirely.

But, you can judge for yourself. Reflections of Venice is available now in 51 countries as a multimedia digital book. You can find out more about the book, get a sneak peak and order it here.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

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