venice biennale 2013

Venice Biennale: Final Day

By ART+OBJECT on 8th June 2013

After ten days in Venice it is time to say goodbye to the Biennale experience. The A+O team has viewed 30 national pavilions in the Giardini, over 40 individual shows in the Arsenale, at least 25 national pavilions in wider Venice including numerous Collateral Events, taken in exhibitions at the Punta Della Doganna, Palazzo Grassi, Fondazione Prada, Ca Pesaro, Art Bestiary at the Natural History Museum, the magnificent Manet show.. even enjoyed the view from the roof of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. 

We have also visited the NZ Pavilion on numerous occasions and enjoyed the hospitality and local knowledge of the Creative NZ and curatorial team. So that is a big thanks to Jenny Harper, Justin Paton, Heather Gailbraith, Jude Chambers, Sen Duxfield and crew. We have enjoyed spending time with all the 80 patrons who have travelled from near and far to support the NZ entry and bask in the glow of pride as New Zealand takes its place in the world. If you are reading this and wondering whether you could or should be a patron in 2015. The answer is YES. So a huge thank you goes to Leigh Melville and Dayle Mace for organising it all... And to Dame Jenny Gibbs for getting the ball rolling.

Finally to Bill Culbert thank you for representing NZ with such distinction and creativity. As we leave thousands of visitors are beating a path to the door of La Pieta to see Front Door Out Back.

A final word on the Venice experience goes to the incomparable Carlo Scarpa... when and If you get the chance to visit Venice take time to discover the works of one of Italy's greatest 20th century architects. This detail is from the Olivetti store on Piazza San Marco


A quiet corner of the Quirini Stampalia Foundation with a signature Scarpa water feature.

Venice Biennale: Day Nine

By ART+OBJECT on 7th June 2013

Our time in Venice is almost up so we have been concentrating on must see shows - and there are still plenty to see. Ai Weiwei 's disposition is one of the star turns. Consisting of six approx half life size container/dioramas depicting the claustrophobic mundanity of the artist's life during his 2011 house arrest - during which the artist was shadowed by two guards... Eating lunch, taking a shower and whilst he was asleep. Ai Weiwei with these detailed but small model reveals his reduced range and removal of personal space in not quite miniature. The viewer has to peer through small viewing windows and observe the absurdity of his 24/7 surveillance.


Just around the corner is this glowing late Bellini altarpiece in the church of San Zaccaria.


Another must see is the restating of one of the most influential contemporary exhibitions from 1969. At the Fondazione Prada the space of the original has been recreated in the very stylish Venetian Palazzo. This is a must see for fans of conceptual art and includes seminal works by Joseph Beuys, Richard Serra, Eva Hesse and Fred Sandback.



Venice Biennale: Day Eight

By ART+OBJECT on 6th June 2013

This is our second to last day at La Serenissima and for these last days we plan to explore some of the established galleries and key modernist works. The Ca' Pesaro is a magnificent palazzo on the main canal and focuses on the early 20th century. The collection features major works by Gustav Klimt, Rodin, Giorgio Morandi, Bonnard, Kandinsky and Alexander Calder. Many of the earlier works were acquired from Biennales in the early 20th century when presumably works on exhibition were for sale.


We had to pop in for another look at Bill Culbert's exhibition which has been the subject of some great reviews.


This is a shot from a week ago but is a great reminder of the Venice Patrons week. The NZ contingent were asked to join the Australian Patrons were an exclusive viewing of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and lunch on the roof. Treats like this make being a Venice Patron a very special experience.

Venice Biennale: Day Seven

By ART+OBJECT on 5th June 2013

Today we headed back to the Giardini and what a difference. After our first visit we were a little overwhelmed by the crowds which meant some pavilions were too full to either enter our once inside so crowded that the work was impossible to view. Today just under a week later the Giardini was relaxed and we could revisit pavilions at our leisure. Ai Wei Wei seems to be everywhere this year... Including the German pavilion which just to confuse matters is being exhibited in the French pavilion... Confused? Well the German curator has chosen the Chinese artist and artists from South Africa, India and a German to make the point that contemporary art is diverse in nature and origin.


The Dutch pavilion has been a slow burning favourite with the A+O team. Room with Broken Sentence by Mark Manders is an elegant, pastoral feeling installation where figures in various forms of completion are sandwiched or balanced between wooden supports or constructions. The effect stands in contrast to some of the more frenetic presentations.


The main curated show The Encyclopedic Palace was also far less crowded on our second visit and it was possible to spend some time with this incredible example of found art. In 1993 an Austrian artist found over 300 handmade model houses in a second hand store. They had been made by a recently diseased diseased insurance clerk by the name of Peter Fritz in the 1950s and 60s. 180 of these were exhibited this year and they represent a type of suburban fantasy - all made from scratch with household card, paper and collated bits and pieces.

Venice Biennale: Day Six - Part Two

By ART+OBJECT on 4th June 2013

In the lagoon on the island of San Giorgio we discovered a superb exhibition that revealed surprising connections to the work of Bill Culbert. Fragile? is a curated exhibitions featuring many of the heavyweights of late 20th century art inc. Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Michael Craig-Martin, Marcel Duchamp, Gilbert and George, Ai Wei Wei and Rachel Whiteread amongst others. This work by Mona Hartoum was one of many that sits in a similar space to Bill Culbert. The common thread? All works in the exhibition were based on or made from glass.


This arresting work by Damian Hirst is titled Death or Glory from 2001. The operative part are two jets of air shooting from the skull's eye sockets which balance the ping pong eyeballs. 


Here is something you do not see every day - Marcel Duchamp and Ai Wei Wei side by side, the former with his classic work Air de Paris (1919 - 1939) and the latter with Dust to Dust (2009) wihich consists of a lidded jar of powdered Neolithic ceramic. 



Venice Biennale: Day Six - Part One

By ART+OBJECT on 4th June 2013

Today we began to visit interesting shows much further afield in Venice. At the natural history museum is Art Bestiary, a group show of animal related works set amongst the spooky taxidermy surrounds. Star of this exhibition is this classic work by Maurizio Cattelan which needs no explanation.


Yesterday word started to spread that the Angolan Pavilion had won the Gram Premio so we headed over to inspect early this morning. Luanda Encyclopedic City picks up the theme of the 55th Biennale by proposing the Angolan capital as a taxonomy of disjointed spaces. Artist Edson Chagas advanced this concept via the device of 23 stacks of newsprint images set amongst the elegant interiors of the Palazzo Cini sitauted near the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery. A vital component of the exhibition was the swishing sound of the images being collected by visitors who were invited to take the printed images away with them. The A+O team collected a full set and we plan to hang these in the gallery in Auckland in the near future.



For a change of pace the Gallerie Dell'Accademia is the repository of the glories of Venetian painting. All the big names are there including Titian, Giorgione, Bellini and Veronese of course but our favourite was the staggering cycle of huge canvases by  Vittore Carpaccio, one of John Ruskin's favourites. Carpaccio (1465 - 1525) specialised in these large scale historic scenes with huge casts set amongst the environs of Venice.

Venice Biennale: Day Five

By ART+OBJECT on 3rd June 2013

After four days at the Giardini, Arsenale, and NZ Pavilion it was time to explore a number of the myriad shows in wider Venice. One of the key events is located at the Punta Della Dogana on the very tip of the Dorsoduro - another site prepared by art tycoon Francois Pinault who also owns Palazzo Grassi. Prima Materia is the big curated group show at the Dogana, a fascinating collision of Arte Povera, Op Art, Minimlism old and new and conceptual work from the seventies old and new. Key artists include Roni Horn, Marlene Dumas, Roman Opalka, Lee Ufan, Bridget Riley and Ryan Trecartin. However the star of the show is the Dogana building itself - a magnificent and elegant refurbishment of an old Venetian warehouse.


A super yacht parked right outside the Dogana. Obviously an art lover keen to beat the early morning queues.


Another highlight outside the Giardini is the Irish Pavilion by artist Richard Mosse. Entitled The Enclave it is a stunning mix of photography and video utilising military photography techniques to document the conflict in the Jungles of the Congo.


Venice Biennale: Day Four

By ART+OBJECT on 2nd June 2013

After visiting the Giardini the next stop for Venice Biennale visitors is invariably the Arsenale which contains a vast curated exhibition and further national pavilions including South Africa, Hong Kong, Turkey, Chile and a superb Catalan installation. 


NZ visitors were particularly keen to get to visit the Arsenale to see an installation by Simon Denny entitled Analogue Broadcasting Hardware Compression (2013) which consists of a large placard like structure depicting banks of recently obsolete broadcasting equipment and paraphernalia - shorn of the mechanical detail and physical presence this work stands as a memorial to the human need to communicate and transmit information.


Another highlight of day 4 was a tour to external presentations in wider Venice. Justin Paton and Heather Gailbraith who have been superb and tireless guides for the NZ patrons selected a number of fascinating exhibitions for us to visit - a particular favourite was the installation by Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis entitled A Remote Whisper which like Bill Culbert's work features extensive use of light and electrical equipment.