VENICE 2017: TOP ART EXHIBITIONS
January 18th, 2017
If you’re planning a trip to Italy and decide to spend some time in Venice we warmly recommend to stay at least four or five days, if not an entire week, here in the Lagoon !

Don’t even think Venice can be seen in just one day (…or two!).

Besides the city itself, for many centuries one of the richest and largest cities in Europe, where every walk is an immersion in beauty, art and history, and the huge variety of palaces, churches, museums and other sites of great interest, during the next months there will be at least five temporary exhibitions that you cannot miss!

The accent, as you’ll see, is on modern and contemporary art, and also on artistic glass. In April - The Pinault Collection announced that, opening to the public on April 9th, both the Venetian venues of the Collection will be dedicated to the same artist, the British Damien Hirst.

The curator is Elena Geuna, who was also responsible of two previous solo shows dedicated to Rudolph Stingel (2013) and Sigmar Polke (2016). The Damien Hirst exhibition is part of a calendar of monographic shows at Palazzo Grassi focusing on major contemporary artists (Urs Fischer, Rudolf Stingel, Martial Raysse, Sigmar Polke), the novelty is that the Hirst exhibition will spread on both museums this time.

Damien Hirst, born in Bristol in 1965 was one of the leading exponents of the YBA (Young British Artists) group, that grew very famous in the 1990es for their "shocking tactics" and use of reject materials .

Very controversial for their use of marketing and wild lifestyle, they certainly revitalized the British market. Damien Hirst’s probably most famous work is "The Physical Impossisbility of Death on the Mind of Someone Living" , a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine.

Hirst explores very harshly the boundaries between life and death: his art is certainly shocking and he’s the kind of artist that one loves or hates.

Animalists accuse him of using animal carcasses for their own purposes and without respect. For one of his installations, In and Out of Love, he sacrificed 9,000 butterflies. Many collectors however would spend a fortune to buy his works. He is actually one of the richest living artists of the world. Another iconic work of his "For the Love of God" (2007), a human skull covered with pure diamonds.

He’s been collaborating with the Pinault Collection for many years, and some of his works had already been shown in Venice in the Palazzo Grassi’s inaugural exhibition “Where Are We Going?” in 2006 . Hirst has been working at his latest project for ten years.

It will be presented here in Venice for the first time. In May – From May 13th through November 26th Venice will host the 57th Visual Arts Biennale.  The artistic director is the Parisian Christine Macel chief curator at Centre Pompidou, who decided to name the exhibition of this year “Viva Arte Viva”. Macel has explained her project as follows: "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. It is a 'yes' to life, although sometimes a 'but' lies behind. More than ever, the role, the voice and the responsibility of the artist are crucial in the framework of contemporary debates.”

As you see, the accent is strongly on the role that artists play “in inventing their own universes and reverberating generous vitality towards the world we live in”, as the Biennale President Paolo Baratta stated. Once a week the artist and his public will meet around an Open Table (Tavola Aperta) to have lunch together and discuss about the artist’s practice.

The Pavilions (renamed for the occasion ‘Trans-Pavilions), at the Giardini, at the Arsenale, and spread all over the city,  will be occupied by 57 nations.
During the weeks before the opening it will be possible to familiarize with the artists’ works thanks to a series of videos that will be posted on the official Biennale website.

Another novelty is the Unpacking my Library project, where the artists can write a list of their preferred books. What about the artists and their works. Italy will have three names only, very few with respect to previous editions:Giorgio Andreaotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi and Adelita Husni-Bey; artists, the curator of the pavilion states, that speak a global language but with a strong national identity.

At the Nordic Pavilion, Mirrored is a group exhibition featuring works by six artists from different generations. The Nordic Pavilion, by Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn, was completed in 1962 and has since been a space for collaboration between three nations – Sweden, Finland and Norway. Tracey Moffat will represent Australia and is one of Australia’s most successful artists, both nationally and internationally.

Highly regarded for her formal and stylistic experimentation in film, photography and video, her work is on the history of cinema, art and photography She will be the first Australian Indigenous artist to present a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Phyllida Barlow will represent Great Britain for the first time and declared all her astonishment.

 Her colossal sculptures are made of commonplace materials, often recycled timber, plywood, cardboard and plaster . The world known abstract painter and activist Mark Bradford will create a new installation for the US Pavilion in the Giardini. His plans, however, are not yet released.

Renown Vancouver sculptor Geoffrey Farmer is expected at the Giardini for Canada. Farmer uses popular culture to create meticulously built and very busy compositions of sculpture, collage, video, film, performance and text. Twakahiro Twasaki, famous for his small size reproductions of towers and temples will represent Japan with his Upside-Down Forest. His installation, he declares, will dialogue with the architectural features of the Japanese Pavilion.

 In May at the Guggenheim Foundation – almost  in concomitance with the starting of the Biennale (opening on May 6th) an important Mark Tobey solo exhibition, “Threading Light” (until Sept 10th) will include approximately eighty paintings from the late 1920s until his last works of the 1970s. Curated by independent scholar Debra Bricker Balken, the exhibition is organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, it will cast further light on the personality and works of this mystic, poetic, abstract artist.

Born in 1890 in Wisconsin, settles in New York City as a fashion illustrator. Here in 1918 he converts to the Bahá'í Faith, that will influence the rest of his life and artistic experience, and starts traveling extensively in Europe and Asia.

After divorce in 1922 moves to Seattle where he meets a Chinese painter who introduces him to calligraphy. In 1925 Tobey goes  to Europe and stays in Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul and Beirut, goes onto a pilgrimage to the holy site Bahá'í in Haifa, and also visits Akka to learn more about Persian and Arabian calligraphy.

His first one-man show takes places in Chicago in 1928. I n 1934 travels to China and Japan - where he studies the principles of Zen painting, the Hai-Ku poetry and also calligraphy in a monastery in Kyoto.  Back to the USA in 1937 lives in Seattle until 1960. Here he develops his "White Writings" pictures, exhibited for the first time in N:Y. in 1944.

This is the beginning of the "all over" painting, a style that is also applied by other artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey's works become more and more abstract and  his art goes hand in hand  with his contemplative lifestyle. He’s considered most important precursors of the American "Abstract Expressionism". The Smithsonian Institution in Washington shows the first retrospective in 1974.

He moved to Basel in 1960 where he died in 1976. Jackson Pollock saw Tobey's work in 1944. Soon, Pollock created large, new all-over drip paintings that made great sensation. Art historians debate  over how much credit Tobey should get for the dripping style developed by Pollock.  

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