• Venice Biennale, how it was started and present activity

    by  • April 6, 2018 • Art, History, Travel • 0 Comments

    The Venice Biennale refers to the art organization in Venice and the name of the original exhibition that is put on “every other year” (hence the name, Biennale) on odd-numbered years. The history of Venice Biennale began in 1983 when the city council decided to start up an art exhibition to show off the best Italian art and in celebration of the silver anniversary of King Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy. In 1985, the council decided to expand the exhibition and invite not only Italians but international artists as well to take part in the exhibition. The exhibition took place in the Giardini di Castello, where the Central Pavillon is now placed in present-day. The exhibition is now referred to as the Art Biennale to distinguish it from the organization that organizes it.  The exhibition has separate sections for architecture, music, theatre, and cinema. (Laushway, 1995) The first country to install a pavilion at the exhibition was Belgium and by 1914 seven pavilions had been established belonging to: Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Great Britain, France, and Russia. In present day, there are a total of 29 pavilions belonging to different countries, but are built at different times throughout the Biennale. (“La Biennale”, 2013) The Art Biennale has an attendance today of over 5,000,000 people.


    Vik Muniz’s “Lampedusa”is a 45-foot paper boat that sailed the canals during the 56th Venice Biennale. It was created to symbolize the tragedy from October 2013, when a boat carrying migrants from Libya sunk off the Italian island of Lampedusa and left 360 people dead. (My Art Guides, 2015)


    Curator of the 2015 Biennale was Okwui Enwezor of Nigeria, the first African-born curator for the Biennale. Enwezor worked to tie art to politics and themed the Biennale “all the worlds futures,” which was very controversial. The Belgium pavilion incorporated the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Iceland’s pavilion was shut down after they turned a 10th century church into a mosque. More on the 2015 Biennale can be found here.




    Lorenzo Quinn’s “Support”installation at the Ca’Sagredo Hotel during the 57th Biennale. (Quinn, 2017)

    The curator for the 2017 Biennale was Christine Macel of Paris. Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale stated “… La Biennale has selected Christina Macel as a curator committed to emphasizing the important role artists play in inventing their own universe and injecting generous vitality in the world we live in.” The title of the Biennale for that year was “Viva Arte Viva.” She supported it by stating that “In a world full of conflicts and jolts, in which humanism is being seriously jeopardized, art is the most precious part of the human being. It is the ideal place for reflection, individual expression, freedom, and fundamental questions.” (Perlson, 2015)


    The artistic director for the 2019 Biennale will be Ralph Rugoff. President of la Biennale states that Rugoff’s appointment underlines that the exhibition can “engage the viewers directly with the artworks in such a way that memory, the unexpected, the possible provocation, the new and the different can stimulate their visions, their minds and their emotions.” The exhibition will run from May 11 to November 24, 2019. (Pes, 2017)


    The Venice Biennale started in 1983 by the city council and since then has grown in size and popularity exponentially. The Venice Biennale provides an outlet for many people to express their love of the arts through many different mediums and themes. It also helps bring countries, 29 represented to be exact, together through the creativity of the exhibitions. What once started as a small Venetian exhibition, now has over 5,000,000 people in attendance waiting to experience the brilliance of the many artists.



    Laushway, E. (1995). Art: Venice biennale. Europe, (349), 47. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.callutheran.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.callutheran.edu/docview/222978963?accountid=9839

    Political Art and “All the World’s Futures”: Okwui Enwezor, First African Curator of Venice Biennale[Video file]. (2015, August 11). Retrieved April 6, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsMLgFrkSFk

    Pes, Javier. (2017) Hayward Director Ralph Runoff Chosen as Artistic Director of the 2019 Venice BiennaleArt net news. Retrieved from https://news.artnet.com/art-world/hayward-director-ralph-rugoff-chosen-artistic-director-2019-venice-biennale-1181045

    Perlson, Hill. (2016) The 2017 Venice Biennale Will Focus on Artists, Not Big Themes. Art net news. Retrieved from https://news.artnet.com/art-world/the-2017-venice-biennale-will-focus-on-artists-not-big-themes-666668

    My Art Guides (2015) Vik Muniz, Lampedusa Art net news. Retrieved from https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/vik-muniz-paper-boat-venice-biennale-290752

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