"For the one-day-two-night tourist, the prepaid Venice package is condensed into two snapshots. The first one, inevitably, is of one's partner smiling broadly, covered by a dozen filthy Piazza pigeons; the other, the beloved smiling — romantically now — in a gondola, reclining," writes Frederick Franck in this gladsome "inner travelogue" of the city of ten thousand and one sights. He offers a different perspective, one that comes across as a spiritual reading of Venice. Franck opens our eyes and ears anew as he journeys through the city with his sketchpad. He brings wonder and awe to the canals, bridges, gondolas, and festive streets. For him, Venice is "an unbroken sequence of ever-changing moods, festive, frivolous, elegiac and melancholy, forever foreign yet totally intimate." The 94 drawings in this unusual paperback are at once playful and celebratory of the marvelous diversity in humankind and this ancient city that contains so much history within its walls and stones and churches.
"Venice only gives herself unreservedly on the sun-flecked foggy days of fall and early spring and in the dead of winter," Franck observes. And he is there to witness many of the sights. There are chapters on Venetian faces in bars, the musical interlude of a string quartet, a funeral barge, the ballet dance of umbrellas on rainy days, the city as an aphrodisiac for lovers, the holidays of Christmas and Carnival, and much more.
It is said that the Virgins outnumber Winged Lions in Venice. Franck notices the many places where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is honored: in oratories, sanctuaries, chapels, shrines, churches, statues, bas reliefs on facades, bridge abutments, and street corners. While the Virgin teases the eye, the smells of the city also interest Franck. "In fall no climate is more capricious: Moods change as unpredictably as those of an overwrought matron. The smiling sunshine of the posters, the cobalt-blue skies — photographs lie as bare-facedly as statistics — changes at once to drizzle, fog, squall, so that mild Venetian rain that is so indispensable to release the secret fragrances by which one's nose knows at once it has come home. It needs a degree of rainy humidity to release that olfactory feast of seaweed, fish heads, iodine, mixed with onions, garlic and oregano, the simmering musty bouquet-pure Yin---of wet mosses, barnacled wood, mildewed leather and old rope, with a waft of tomcat — Yang stirred in."
Seeing Venice: An Eye in Love by Frederick Franck challenges us to return to the feeling textures of life. It presents the city as a sense-luscious world that beckons, intrigues, and dazzles. Jump aboard the drawings of Frederick Franck and see afresh with eyes wide open with wonder.