Thoughts on The Venice Biennale 2019

Art Privée

The theme of the 2019 Biennale Arte in Venice is “May You Live in Interesting Times”, and we do for sure…

We should all be very proud of the American Pavilion in Venice and sculptor Martin Puryear representing the United States. Puryear’s theme focuses on “Liberty”. His monumental sculpture overtakes the entrance of this classical Pavilion and inside his abstract forms are elegant and haunting. I think this is the BEST Pavilion in the 2019 Venice Biennale.
The other Pavilion that is a MUST SEE is in the Arsenale which is not in the Giardini. This is the first time Ghana is represented in Venice and they brought out all of their star power artists to make a big impact!
Superstar Architect Sir David Adjaye designed the structure that houses the exhibition which is based on tradition circular earth houses from villages in the upper eastern region of Ghana. Well known artists such as Okwui Enwezor, El Anatsui and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are represented among other artists from Ghana.

Pavilions that were especially interesting are Belgium, Japan and Russia. There is so much “art overload” just accept that you can’t see it all.
In celebration of this Biennial many site specific installations are around the city and on neighboring islands. Some shows are in churches, museums, small libraries, or foundations. I will share with you what I loved.

On the San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Sean Scully’s striped multicolor sculpture “Opulent Ascension” is a breathtaking surprise as you enter the church. Circle the sculpture and you find you can walk in the back and be surrounded by his glorious colors. The exhibition continues and you will see drawings, paintings and Scully’s beautiful stained glass windows. Do not miss the figurative paintings of his son and wife at the beach.

The Baselitz retrospective at the Gallerie dell’Accademeia shows what a true genius this artists is.

One must always visit the Peggy Guggenhiem Museum when in Venice. A beautiful Jean Arp show is on view until September 2, 2019. Arp was the first artist to enter Peggy Guggenhiem’s collection.

While you are there be sure to visit the “Schulof Collection”. Important works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly and Donald Judd and many others are shown in this beautiful, dedicated space.

When you visit the Helen Frankenthaler exhibition at the Palazzo Grimani, I would suggest that you see the wonderful video of her making art first and then look at the works that span her 40 year career. You will have a new appreciation of her process and how advanced she was.

If you asked me about breakaway artists that seem to be everywhere it would be two women of color, Zanele Muholi and Njideka Akunyili Crosby and sculptor Carol Bove.

Zanele Muholi
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Carol Bove

There is so much art to see in Venice please don’t drive yourself crazy.. . but keep your eyes opened. We stumbled across an Edmund de Waal installation in an obscure square on our way to lunch!

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