Every May, the world’s wealthiest people converge in Venice for a bacchanal of openings and parties revolving around the Venice Biennale.
This ostensibly art show comprises 85 national pavilions, 29 of which are in a leafy park, “Giardini“, where countries host contemporary art exhibits. The rest of the show is in Arsenale, a massive warehouse complex with hundreds of artworks around a theme. This year was Viva Arte Viva, “inspired by humanism”, assembled by Christine Mace, chief curator of Paris Pompidou Centre.
Satellite exhibitions are sponsored by philanthropies and museums.
Maison Fendi main sponsor of the Italian Pavillion, confirms their vocation as patrons of classic and contemporary art. Their superb event, was celebrated with a spectacular dinner at Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Mirror tables allowed a total immersion in the sublime Tintoretto paintings. A feast for the eyes with art all around.
In Punta della Dogana, billionaire François Pinault hosted an exhibition of controversial artist Damien Hirst.
Because of the large number of global rich, not to mention the cadre of art dealers, the Biennale has become an unofficial forum where consensus is formed about art market standouts.
New artists are anointed as stars and the status of existing art celebrities is reinforced. Hard to find shows have also emerged as must-sees, including Future Generation Art Prize: 21 shortlisted artists in an ornate palazzo.
Another satellite show event was at Palazzo Fortuny, a gothic mansion that Belgian dealer Axel Vervoordt turned into exhibition space featuring contemporary photography, medieval drawings, neolithic sculptures and Japanese pottery.
Spotted at top events were celebrities such as pharmaceutical heiress Maja Hoffmann, San Francisco philanthropist Pamela Joyner, exiled Iran Empress Farah Pahlavi, magnate Poju Zabludowicz…
Collectors, curators, museum people, they were all there. In May the whole art world is in Venice.