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Archivo:Venice biennale.jpg

Biennalist Giardini Main Entrance

Archivo:Venezzia biennial jn 3.jpg

Detail of exhibition.

Archivo:Balazs kicsiny-pump room.jpg

View of "Pump Room", a work by the Hungarian artist Balázs Kicsiny at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

The Venice Biennale (Plantilla:Lang-it; also called in English the "Venice Biennial") is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years (in odd years) in Venice, Italy. It is similar to Susak Expo in Susak, Croatia which takes place on even years. The Venice Film Festival is part of it, as is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years. A dance section, the "International Festival of Contemporary Dance", was established in 1999.[1]


The first Biennale was held in 1895; during the first editions, decorative arts played an important role. The event became more and more international in the first decades of the 20th century: from 1907 on, several countries started installing national pavilions at the exhibition. After World War I, the Biennale showed increasing interest in innovative traditions in modern art. Between the two World Wars, many important modern artists had their work exhibited there.

In 1930, control of the Biennale passed from the Venice city council to the national Fascist government. In the 1930s, several new sections of the event were established: the Music Festival in 1930, the International Film Festival in 1932 and the Theatre Festival in 1934. From 1938, Grand Prizes were awarded in the art exhibition section.

After a six-year break during World War II, the Biennale was resumed in 1948 with renewed attention to avant-garde movements in European, and later worldwide, movements in contemporary art. Abstract expressionism was introduced in the 1950s, pop art in the 1960s. From 1948 to 1972, Italian architect Carlo Scarpa did a series of remarkable interventions in the Biennales exhibition spaces.

The protests of 1968 marked a crisis for the Biennale; the Grand Prizes were abandoned and more emphasis went to thematic exhibitions instead of monographic ones. The 1974 edition was entirely dedicated to Chile, as a major cultural protest against the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. New prizes - Golden Lions, like the awards for the Venice Film Festival - were installed; postmodern art entered the scene with increasingly varied and popular exhibitions.

In 1980 Achille Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann introduced "Aperto", a section of the exhibition designed to explore emerging art. Italian art historian Giovanni Carandente directed the 1988 and 1990 editions. A three-year gap was left afterwards to make sure that the 1995 edition would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Biennale. The 1993 edition was directed by Achille Bonito Oliva while Jean Clair and Germano Celant served as directors in 1995 and 1997 respectively.

In 1999 and 2001, Harald Szeemann directed two editions in a row (48th & 49th) bringing in a larger representation of artists from Asia and Eastern Europe and more young artist than usual and expanded the show into several newly restored spaces of the Arsenale.

The 50th edition, directed by Francesco Bonami, had a record number of seven co-curators involved, including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Catherine David, Igor Zabel, Hou Hanru and Massimiliano Gioni.

The 51st edition of the Biennale opened in June 2005, curated, for the first time by two women, Maria de Corral and Rosa Martinez. De Corral organized "The Experience of Art" which included 41 artists, from past masters to younger figures. Rosa Martinez took over the Arsenale with "Always a Little Further." Drawing on "the myth of the romantic traveler" her exhibition involved 49 artists, ranging from the elegant to the profane.

At the 51st Biennale, American artist Barbara Kruger was awarded with the "Golden Lion" award for lifetime achievement.

In 2007, Robert Storr became the first director from the United States to curate the 52nd edition of the Biennale entitled Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense. This year, Mexico made its official debut at the Biennale with an exhibition by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at the Van Axel palace.

Swedish curator Daniel Birnbaum has been appointed artistic director for the 2009 edition.


The formal Biennale is based at a park the Giardini that houses 30 permanent national pavilions. The assignment of the permanent pavilions was largely dictated by the international politics of the 1930s and the Cold War. There is no single format to how each country manages their pavilion. The pavilion for Great Britain is always managed by the British Council while the United States assigns the responsibility to a public gallery chosen by the Department of State. The Giardini includes a large exhibition hall that houses a themed exhibition curated by the Biennale's director.

The Aperto began as a fringe event for younger artists and artists of a national origin not represented by the permanent national pavilions. This is usually staged in the Arsenale and has become part of the formal biennale programme. In 1995 there was no Aperto so a number of participating countries hired venues to show exhibitions of emerging artists.

The national pavilions and their architects[]

The following list of the national pavilions (with completion dates and design architects) was taken from Martino, Enzo Di. The History of the Venice Biennale. venezia: Papiro Arte, 2007.

  • Italy - “Palazzo Pro Arte”: Enrico Trevisanato, façade by Marius De Maria and Bartholomeo Bezzi, 1895; new façade by Guido Cirilli, 1914; “Padiglione Italia”, present façade by Duilio Torres 1932. The pavilion has a sculpture garden by Carlo Scarpa, 1952 and the “Auditorium Pastor” by Valeriano Pastor, 1977.
  • Australia - Philip Cox, 1988
  • Austria - Joseph Hoffmann with the collaboration of Robert Kramreiter, 1934 (restored by Hans Hollein, 1984).
  • Belgium - Leon Sneyers, 1907 (totally restored by Virgilio Vallot, 1948).
  • Brazil - Amerigo Marchesin, 1964.
  • Canada - BBPR (Gian Luigi Banfi, Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, Ernesto Nathan Rogers), 1958.
  • Czechoslovakia - Otakar Novotn, 1926 (annex built by Boguslav Rychlinch, 1970).
  • Denmark - Carl Brummer, 1932 (annex designed by Peter Koch, 1958).
  • Finland - Alvar Aalto, 1956; restored by Fredrik Fogh with the collaboration of Elsa Makiniemi, 1976-1982.
  • France - Faust Finzi, 1912.
  • Germany - Daniele Donghi, 1909; rebuilt by Ernst Haiger, 1938.
  • Japan - Takamasa Yoshizaka, 1956
  • Great Britain - Edwin Alfred Rickards, 1909.[2]
  • Greece - Brenno Del Giudice, M. Papandre, 1934.
  • Iceland - At present it uses the Finnish pavilion.
  • Israel - Zeev Rechter, 1952 (modified by Fredrik Fogh, 1966).
  • Netherlands - Gustav Ferdninand Boberg, 1914 (rebuilt by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, 1954).
  • Russia - Aleksej V. Scusev, 1914.
  • Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland) - Sverre Fehn, 1962 (small annex built by Fredrik Fogh, 1987).
  • Spain - Javier de Luque, 1922 (façade restored by Joaquin Vaquero Palacios, 1952).
  • USA - Chester Holmes Aldrich, William Adams Delano, 1930.
  • Switzerland - Bruno Giacometti, 1952.
  • Hungary - Geza Rintel Maroti, 1909 (restored by Agost Benkhard, 1958).
  • Uruguay - Ex-warehouse of the Biennale, 1958, ceded to the government of Uruguay, 1960.
  • Venezuela - Carlo Scarpa, 1956.
  • “Venezia” Group of Pavilions - Brenno Del Giudice (Arti Decorative pavilion 1932); other pavilions (Yugoslavia, Romania, Latin America), 1938; Egypt was assigned a pavilion in 1952.
  • Ticket Office - Carlo Scarpa, 1951.
  • Book Shop - James Stirling, 1991.
  • South Korea - Seok Chul Kim, 1995.

The United States Pavilion[]

Partial list of exhibitors at the United States Pavilion[3]:

  • 1950 (26th) - Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock
  • 1954 (28th) - Willem de Kooning, Ben Shahn
  • 1960 (30th) - Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Theodore Roszak
  • 1962 (31st) - Jan Müller, Louise Nevelson
  • 1964 (32nd) - John Chamberlain, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg,

Frank Stella

  • 1966 (33rd) - Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Jules Olitski
  • 1968 (34th) - Leonard Baskin, Edwin Dickinson, Richard Diebenkorn, Red Grooms, James McGarrell, Reuben Nakian, Fairfield Porter
  • 1972 (36th) - Diane Arbus, Ronald Davis, Richard Estes, Sam Gilliam, Keith Sonnier
  • 1976 (37th) - Richard Artschwager, Charles Garabedian, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Ed Ruscha, Robert Ryman, Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle, Andy Warhol, H.C. Westermann
  • 1978 (38th) - Harry Callahan, Richard Diebenkorn
  • 1980 (39th) - Vito Acconci, Christo, Laurie Anderson and others
  • 1982 (40th) - Jess, Robert Smithson (posthumous), Richard Pousette-Dart
  • 1984 (41st) - Eric Fischl, Charles Garabedian, and others
  • 1986 (42nd) - Isamu Noguchi
  • 1988 (43rd) - Jasper Johns
  • 1990 (44th) - Jenny Holzer - Mother and Child
  • 1993 (45th) - Louise Bourgeois
  • 1995 (46th) - Bill Viola - Buried Secrets
  • 1997 (47th) - Robert Colescott
  • 1999 (48th) - Ann Hamilton
  • 2001 (49th) - Robert Gober
  • 2003 (50th) - Fred Wilson
  • 2005 (51st) - Ed Ruscha
  • 2007 (52nd) - Félix González-Torres (posthumous)
  • 2009 (53rd) - Bruce Nauman

The British Pavilion[]

List of exhibitors in the British Pavilion[2]:

  • 1948 - Sculptures by Henry Moore. Paintings by J. M. W. Turner. Works by Ben Nicholson and John Tunnard.
  • 1950 - Paintings by Matthew Smith and John Constable. Sculptures by Barbara Hepworth.
  • 1952 - Paintings by Graham Sutherland and Edward Wadsworth. Sculptures by the New Aspects of British Sculpture group (Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke, Bernard Meadows, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, and William Turnbull).
  • 1954 - Paintings by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Ben Nicholson. Sculptures by Reg Butler relating to his Unknown Political Prisoner monument. Lithographs by Allin Braund, Geoffrey Clarke, Henry Cliffe, Robert Colquhoun, William Gear, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ceri Richards, William Scott, and Graham Sutherland.
  • 1956 - Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, John Bratby, Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch, and Jack Smith. Sculptures by Lynn Chadwick.
  • 1958 - Paintings by William Scott and S. W. Hayter. Sculptures by Kenneth Armitage, Sezione Giovani, Sandra Blow, Anthony Caro, and Alan Davie.
  • 1960 - Mixed media works by Victor Pasmore. Paintings by Merlyn Evans, Geoffrey Clarke, Henry Cliffe.
  • 1962 - Paintings by Ceri Richards. Sculptures by Robert Adams and Hubert Dalwood.
  • 1964 - Mixed media works by Joe Tilson. Paintings by Roger Hilton, Gwyther Irwin. Sculptures by Bernard Meadows.
  • 1966 - Paintings by Bernard Cohen, Harold Cohen, and Robyn Denny. Sculptures by Anthony Caro and Richard Smith.
  • 1968 - Paintings by Bridget Riley and Francis Bacon. Sculptures by Philip King. 'Ways of Contemporary Research' exhibition with works by Anthony Caro, David Hockney, Ben Nicholson, Eduardo Paolozzi, Victor Pasmore, Graham Sutherland.
  • 1970 - Sculptures by Richard Smith.
  • 1972 - Paintings by John Walker. Sculptures by William Tucker. 'Grafica sperimentale per la stampa' exhibition with works by Pentagram (Alan Fletcher, Colin Forbes, Mervyn Kurlansky), Michael English, John Gorham, F. H. K. Henrion, Lou Klein, Enzo Ragazzini. 'Il Libro come luogo di ricerca' exhibition with works by Gilbert and George and Victor Burgin.
  • 1976 - Works by Richard Long, Richard Hamilton, Victor Pasmore, David Mackay, Alison and Peter Smithson,James Stirling, John Davies, Phillip Hyde, Anne Rawcliffe-King, Yolanda Teuten.
  • 1978 - Photography by Mark Boyle. 'Six Stations for Art-Nature. The Nature of Art' exhibition with works by Gilbert and George, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Richard Long, and Malcolm Morley. 'Art and Cinema' by Anthony McCall.
  • 1980 - Works by Tim Head and Nicholas Pope. 'Art in the Seventies' exhibition with works by Bruce McLean, Kenneth Martin, Television Exhibitions, Barry Flanagan, Gilbert and George, Hamish Fulton, and Richard Long. 'Art in the Seventies. Open 80' exhibition with works by Roger Ackling, Tony Cragg, and Leonard McComb.
  • 1982 - Works by Barry Flanagan. 'Aperto 82' exhibition with works by Catherine Blacker, Stephen Cox, Antony Gormley, Tim Head, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor, Christopher Le Brun, Judy Pfaff, Stephen Willats, and Bill Woodrow. 'Arte come arte: persistenza dell’opera - Mostra internazionale' exhibition with works by Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, Ronald Kitaj, and Raymond Mason.
  • 1984 - Works by Howard Hodgkin. 'Arte allo Specchio' exhibition with works by Peter Greenaway and Christopher Le Brun. 'Arte, Ambiente, Scena' exhibition with works by Judy Pfaff. 'Aperto 84' exhibition with works by Terry Atkinson, Helen Chadwick, Rose Garrard, Glenys Johnson, Paul Richards, Amikam Toren, and Kerry Treng.
  • 1986 - Works by Frank Auerbach. 'Aperto 86' exhibition with works by Lisa Milroy, John Murphy, Avis Newman, Jacqueline Poncelet, Boyd Webb, and Richard Wilson. 'Art e Scienza' exhibition with works by Eric Bainbridge, Alastair Brotchie, Anthony Caro, Leonora Carrington, Ithell Colquhoun, Stephen Cox, Tony Cragg, Neil Cummings, Brian Eno, Barry Flanagan, Jeremy Gardiner, Eric Gidney, Jocelyn Godwin, Anthony Gormley, Paul Hayward, Allen Jones, Liliane Lijn, Peter Lowe, Kyeran Lyons, Conroy Maddox, Thomas Major, Kenneth Martin, Mary Martin, Alastair Morton, Hugh O'Donnell, Andrew Owens, Digital Pictures, Mike Punt, Bridget Riley, Kurt Schwitters, Peter Sedgley, Jeffrey Steele, Paul Thomas, Philip West, and Alison Wilding.
  • 1988 - Sculptures by Tony Cragg. 'Aperto 88' exhibition with works by Tony Bevan, Hannah Collins, Grenville Davey, Andy Goldsworthy, Simon Linke, Peter Nadin, and Thoms William Puckey. 'Scultori ai Giardini' exhibition with works by Lynn Chadwick, Anthony Core, Philip King, and Joe Tilson.
  • 1990 - Works by Anish Kapoor. 'Three Scottish Sculptors' exhibition with works by David Mach, Arthur Watson, and Kate Whiteford. 'Aperto 90' with works by Eric Bainbridge, David Leapman, Patrick Joseph McBride, Therese Oulton, Fiona Rae, and Anthony Wilson. 'Fluxus' exhibition with works by Braco Dimitrijevic, Brion Gysin, Dick Higgins, and Robin Page.
  • 1993 - Works by Richard Hamilton. 'Aperto 93' exhibition with works by Henry Bond, Christine Borland, Angela Bulloch, Mat Collishaw, Damien Hirst, Simon Patterson, Vong Phaophanit, Steven Pippin, Julie Roberts, and Georgina Starr. 'Punti dell'arte' exhibition with works by Anish Kapoor. 'Slittamenti' exhibition with works by Peter Greenaway and Derek Jarman. 'Macchine della pace' exhibition with works by Tony Cragg, Shirazeh Houshiary, and Julian Opie. 'La coesistenza dell'arte' exhibition with works by Braco Dimitrijevic. 'Art against Aids. Venezia 93' exhibition with works by Gilbert and George, Frank Auerbach, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor, Ronald Kitaj, Malcolm Morley, Ray Smith, and Rachel Whiteread. 'Tresors de Voyage' exhibition with works by Braco Dimitrijevic, Shirazeh Houshiary, and Anish Kapoor.
  • 1995 - Works by Leon Kossoff. 'General Release: Young British Artists' exhibition with works by Fiona Banner, Dinos Chapman, Jake Chapman, Adam Chodzko, Matthew Dalziel, and Louise Scullion, Cerith Wyn Evans, Elizabeth Wright, Tacita Dean, Lucy Gunning, Sam Taylor-Wood, Jane and Louise Wilson, Jaki Irvine, Gary Hume, Douglas Gordan, Tom Gidley, and Ceal Floyer.
  • 1997 - Sculptures by Rachel Whiteread.
  • 1999 - Paintings by Gary Hume.
  • 2001 - Works by Mark Wallinger.
  • 2003 - Paintings by Chris Ofili.
  • 2005- Gilbert and George
  • 2007- Painting and sculpture by Tracey Emin
  • 2009- Video installation by Steve McQueen (artist)


Further reading[]

See also[]

  • Venice Film Festival
  • Venice Biennale of Architecture
  • Rome Quadriennale
  • Susak Expo

External links[]

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