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Venice, Biennials, and Art Fever in 2017!

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Does anything compare to a gondola ride in amazing Venice? Photo: Visual Hunt

Inspired by the June art box, many of this month’s blog posts are all about frescos and Italy! To continue the trend, we’re reporting on a major art exhibition and happening occurring right now: the Venice Biennale!

That’s right, the amazing and magnificent city of Venice welcomes the world’s most important artists and art players for its Biennale every two years. So if you can, run to Venice before its 57th Biennale ends this year in November! Your next chance will be in 2019…

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Common Ground, Venice Biennale 2012. Photo: Visual Hunt

What is a Biennial Anyway?

Well, it’s obviously something that occurs every two years. But the word means something specific to the art community. It’s a large exhibition made up of a group of artists, often hosted by a particular city or an institution. Have you heard of Documenta (Kassel) or the Whitney Biennial (New York)? You might think of a biennial as the successors of salons, academies and world’s fairs, where artwork by a group of the “best” artists was displayed in days of yore.

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Caffè Illy, Venice Biennale. Photo: Visual Hunt

Usually, a biennial (like any other exhibition) has a curator and a wider theme, and artists must apply to participate. These major exhibitions can often be the things that make (or break) an artist’s career… Critics and collectors will be among the visitors! And let’s not forget that there are often awards at the end.

Displaying Common Ground Venice Biennale 2012.jpgCommon Ground, Venice Biennale 2012. Photo: Visual Hunt

The Venice Biennale began all the way back in 1895 and has been showing some of the world’s best art ever since.

It was established in 1895, about one year after construction was begun of the Palazzo dell’Esposizione in the Giardini di Castello by Enrico Trevisanato and Marius De Maria, where the exhibition is held. When it first opened, its 224,000 visitors included the king and queen of Italy, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia, and today the Biennale has an attendance of over 500,000 visitors! Out of the first art festival was born those dedicated to Music (1930), Cinema (1932), Theatre (1934), Architecture (1980) and Dance (1999).

A particularly important Biennale year was 1948 – when the biennale reopened after the hostilities of the Second World War and the fall of fascism, and the last biennale of 1942. The resulting Biennale, curated by art historian Rodolfo Pallucchini, was a retrospective of sorts, of past art, Impressionism, Picaso, along with contemporary.

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Modern Primitives by Aranda Lasch at the 2010 Venice Biennale. Photo: Visual Hunt

What are the themes and who are the artists to look for in this year’s Venice Biennale?

This year’s theme is Viva Arte Viva, curated by Christine Macel and chaired by Paolo Baratta (the Biennale’s president between 1998 and 2001 and 2008 to the present). According to its website, “Viva Arte Viva unfolds over the course of nine chapters or families of artists, beginning with two introductory realms in the Central Pavilion, followed by another across the Arsenale through the Giardino delle Vergini.” There are 120 artists form 51 countries (visit this link for the complete list:; additionally there are 86 National Participations in the historic Pavilions, with Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, and Nigeria participating for the first time.

Quick, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to Venice!

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La bella Venezia. Photo: Visual Hunt


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