Category Archives: Exhibitions & Museums

Biennale Bites – Preview Day 1

A glorious day; even if it did threaten to be a bit drippy, it never quite followed though. Between the ground that must be covered to get your press pass, the many square kilometers of the Giardini, the expansive Arsenale, and seemingly endless number of exhibitions that take place there, composed of and constructed from every conceivable form of medium imaginable — a day is barely enough to get started. I love the corderie (where all the ropes for Venetian vessels were once hewn and wound), a soaring space, which as you walk it presents you with once concept after another: some massive, some grouped, some walk through, some painted, some constructed, some inscrutable, some in your face. “It’s a photograph,” comments one onlooker. “I did one of these at university. Everything old is new again.” Contrast the ancient Corderie with a bright, blooming Giardini, dotted with pavilions large and small, each devoted to a single country, each proudly hosting this year’s representative exhibition.

But expression will not be confined, and neither will the Biennale. It’s as if exhibitions have rained down over the city, searching for a suitable space — and if there was one, it now hosts some irrepressible form of contemporary expression: palaces like the Prada-restored Corner, the Scuola della Misericordia, the Palazzo Grassi, the Fortuny; others like the Punto della Dogana, and more, and more. Sure, some are renovated for hotels, some hold regular concerts for tourists. But it seems the Biennale knew that these spaces were also ideal for something a bit more — vibrant — and has managed to bring the point home.

Whether the works are new or revived, comprehensible or less so, it’s a joyous thing for lots of reasons, this Biennale, not the least of which is being a catalyst in bringing old structures back to life and filling them with enough contemporary expression and vitality to the degree that every journalist who had the mean, the commission and who could spell the word “art” is here to see just what emerging artists from almost every country in the world have to say.

The former queen of Cyprus would be quite proud, I’d imagine. Do you think she’s keeping an eye out?



Biennale Bites

The ACTV vaporetto strike challenged journalists who arrived from all over the world to attend a wave of inaugurations that washed over the city today, anticipating the official three-days of previews beginning tomorrow at the Giardini and Arsenale. If today was any indication, ILLUMInations, the 54th edition of the Arte Biennale may bring new meaning to the term “stimulus overload.” Below are some sneak peeks at the glorious Prada restoration and exhibition at the Palazzo Corner della Regina and the Fabre exhibition at the Scuola Misericordia; do stay tuned for more Biennale Bites during the upcoming week.


Story of Ester Exhibition, Palazzo Grimani

Veronese descends on Palazzo Grimani

After a long, complex restoration, these spectacular canvases that normally soar overhead in Chiesa San Sebastiano have been brought down to earth at Palazzo Grimani until July 24.

Story of Ester Exhibition, Palazzo Grimani

A must, must see.

Cupola, Palazzo Grimani, Venezia

The Palazzo Grimani, unique in the city for construction and style (more Roman that Venetian, really) is a site too rarely seen by the first-time traveler, but one that should be at the top of any returning visitor’s list. The palace is unusual not only for its style, but also in that it does not host large permanent art collection — which the building’s unusual (for Venice) architectural features are in primo piano, brought to the fore.

The absence of a large art collection also makes the Grimani the ideal display case for temporary exhibits like the one there now, Veronese’s The Story of Ester Revealed. Until they are once again reinstalled in their original position on the ceiling of the San Sebastiano Church — which is chock full of other Veronese works and where the artist himself is buried — each of these three magnificent canvases occupies its own room, lit perfectly to highlight the over two-year restoration directed by Giulio Manieri Elia and funded by Save Venice.

The process of the restoration is introduced in a video on the piano nobile, and highlighted in illustrated panels created for each canvas…but you could remain in total ignorance of Veronese, Ester, Grimani and all the rest and still be wowed by these magnificent works.

Veronese exhibition, Palazzo Grimani, Venice

Veronese, The Story of Ester

Museo di Palazzo Grimani?
Ramo Grimani 4858, Castello (off the Ruga Giuffa below Campo Santa Maria Formosa)

Thru July 24, 2011

Mon 9 – 2pm
Tue – Sun, 9am -7pm
Ticket office closes 4 minutes prior

€7, €5 reduced

Info: +39  041-520 0345


We love you Lino…

LINO TAGLIAPIETRA — From Murano to Studio Glass: works 1954 – 2011

This is Murano Glass (or at least a marvelous rendition of how it has evolved.)

So many travelers come to Venice having heard of Murano’s fame for hot glass, but knowing little else about it. Unfortunately, the best way to acquire some context of this complicated subject is not necessarily from someone trying to sell it to you. Murano seems to be waking up to this idea, thankfully, with inexpensive tours they offer, the current exhibit at the Correr, and now this extraordinary retrospective of master artist Lino Tagliapietra (tah-ya-pee-eh-tra– his first ever in Italy, believe it or not.

Tagliapietra is one of the most famous of the contemporary Murano artists, and in the tradition of Seguso, conceptualizes, designs, and then creates his own works. Tagliapietra has also been an ambassador for Murano glass, one of the few traveling extensively around the world to share his work, his approach, and his Murano life and tradition. “Lino thinks in glass,” is the quote from Rosa Barovier, co-curator of the exhibition and grand dame of the oldest glass-producing family on the island.

The exhibit opens with a brief film, after which you’ll wander through decades of the captivating results of Lino’s artistic thought process: a rich and diverse collection ranging from exquisite examples of scintillating color, to more involved sculptures incorporating techniques that add just enough dimension to exalt without encumbering.

If you have any interest whatsoever in Murano Glass, choosing either this exhibit, the one at the Correr, or if you can manage it, combining the two (the Correr first) would be extraordinarily satisfying activity — and guaranteed to improve your glass awareness in the process.

From Murano to Studio Glass. Works 1954 – 2011

though May 22, 2011
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti (vaporetto Accademia, San Samuele)
On the Grand Canal at the base of the Accademia Bridge
+39 041 5237819
Tues – Sun, 10 am – 7 pm (ticket office closes at 6 pm) 
Tickets €7, €5 reduced. Call for group prices


Curated by Rosa Barovier Mentasti and Sandro Pezzoli, hosted by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti and Civita Tre Venezie, sponsored by the Regione del Veneto, under the aegis of the Provincia di Venezia and the Comune di Venezia, in association with Venezia Iniziative Culturali. The official exhibition partner is the Scaletta di Vetro gallery.