First Time at Venice Biennale
Venice is one of the greatest manifestations of the artistic spirit on earth. During the Venice Beinnale – the oldest and most prestigious international art exhibition – contemporary art competes for attention with everything else the city has to offer.
This June I visited the Venice Biennale for the first time, and the rich profusion of art in the city was frankly overwhelming. Nowadays, the Biennale is not restricted to the Giardini, the original space which is the public gardens built by Napoleon and houses 30 permanent national pavilions. There are now over 70 other pavilions dotted around the city, as well as many other exhibitions and installations, some of which are hidden. My favourite exhibition spaces were the Prada Foundation and Palazzo Fortuny.
The pavilions are a jarring architectural mix, created at different times, and in quite different styles. There have always been numerous national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, and there are 103 of them here this year! The first pavilions were built by France, Russia, Great Britain, Belgium and Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century.The Venice Biennale has been going since the 1895, and it is home to the cutting-edge contemporary art. Name any exciting contemporary artist, and chances are they have exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Just some of the prominent names include Gustav Klimt, August Renoir, Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and Marina Abrmovic.
Of course, everyone was talking about Damien Hirst’s colossal show Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable occupying two large exhibition spaces: Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi. The two museums were filled to the brim with ancient treasures: hundreds of objects in marble, gold and bronze, crystal, jade and malachite. All supposedly lost in a legendary shipwreck a couple of millennia ago. I have never seen a bigger show in my life – it verged on being too ostentatious and almost tasteless – and yet some of the objects were beautiful and comical and fun to behold.
With such an abundance of art from all the corners of the world, prepare yourself for the sad fact that you may never be able to see everything you want to see in a single visit. You might possibly cover quite a bit if you stay a few weeks 😉
Where we stayed and dined…
This time, I think I have found my favourite hotel in Venice: Hotel Ai Reali. A boutique luxury hotel situated in a completely refurbished ancient palace dating back to the 17th century. I lucked out and got upgraded to a suite with a beautiful balcony (the one in the first shot of the post). This hotel is the epitome of Venetian opulence but done with sophistication rather than ostentation. The hotel restaurant, Alle Corone, restaurant is excellent as well.
Another gastric highlight was the Enoteca Ai Artisti, a romantic little restaurant with delicious food.
SuSo – best gelato in town <3