Giacomo Casanova never made a single work of visual art, so it seems weird to devote an art exhibit to him. Yet the 18th-century Italian adventurer led a life packed with incident that took him to the furthest corners of Europe, and his autobiography (written at the end of his life, when he was stuck working as a count’s librarian in Prague) is the best account we have of the mores, the fashions, and the social habits of the continent’s aristocracy. So the Kimbell Art Museum opens Casanova: The Seduction of Europe this week to introduce us to his world.
The homegrown exhibit gathers together not only paintings and sculpture but also clothes, furniture, and decorative objects that Casanova would have run across during his travels to places as far-flung as England, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. Over his 73 years, the arts evolved from the Baroque and Rococo styles to the reactionary Neoclassical style, and his weaknesses for gambling and (naturally) women drove him from one end of the continent to the other, exposing him to all different national schools. For a man whose mind was quick enough to earn him a university law degree when he was 17 years old, we can only hope the exhibit does justice to his discernment and taste.
Casanova: The Seduction of Europe runs Sun thru Dec 31 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW. Admission is $14-18. Call 817-332-8451.