Biennale Arte 2019

Discover the program, the news and the main themes of the 2019 Venice Biennale: a review of events that celebrates art, design, architecture, dance and cinema and that involves the whole city. "May You Live In Interesting Times": this is the title of the 58th International Art Exhibition which takes place from 11th May to 24th November 2019.

May 22, 2019

[Jacopo Salvi – Photo courtesy La Biennale di Venezia]

58th International Art Exhibition – until November 24th 2019 – curated by Ralph Rugoff – #BiennaleArte2019

  • 13th International Festival of Contemporary Dance – June 21st – June 30th 2019 – directed by Marie Chouinard – #BiennaleDanza2019
  • 47th International Theatre Festival – July 22nd – August 5th 2019 – directed by Antonio Latella – #BiennaleTeatro2019
  • 76th Venice International Film Festival – August 28th – September 7th 2019 – directed by Alberto Barbera – #BiennaleCinema2019
  • 63rd International Festival of Contemporary Music – September 27th – October 6th 2019 – directed by Ivan Fedele – #BiennaleMusica2019

May You Live in Interesting Times

The Venice Biennale 2019, titled “May You Live in Interesting Times,” opened on May 11th. It is the 58th International Art Exhibition and is set to run until the November 24, 2019. Curated by the current Director of London’s Hayward Gallery, Ralph Rugoff, this exhibition has 79 living artists from all around the world.
It also boasts 89 National Participations and 21 Collateral Events that do take place at various locations around the city. The event highlights a general approach to the creation of art, as well as a view of the social function with regards to both critical thinking and pleasure.
We will be seeing four countries that are taking part for the very first time in the Biennale Arte, and these are Pakistan, Malaysia, Madagascar, and Ghana.


The Curator of Venice Biennale 2019

The curator of the 58th Biennale, Ralph Rugoff is well known for the art and cultural criticism that he wrote for a variety of periodicals. From 1985 to 2002, he published widely in newspapers and art magazines. In 1995, he also published his collection of essays called “Circus Americanus.”
In that same period, he started working as an independent art curator. Since 2006, he has been working as the Director for the Hayward Gallery of London, which is considered by many to be the leading art gallery in the United Kingdom.


The Venice Biennale is spread across two main locations – Giardini and Arsenale

Castello is the largest and most authentically “Venetian” district in Venice with its 6896 house numbers, it manages to maintain its authenticity despite the incessant increase in tourism, it noticeably comes to life during the period of the Biennale. It is in the Giardini headquarters and more precisely in the Central Pavilion that “May You Live In Interesting Times” takes place, which then leads out into all the other pavilion, the oldest of which was built in 1907, and others designed by world-renowned architects.

The other main venue of the exhibition is the Arsenale, which was used for the first time by the Venice Biennale in 1980. The Arsenale is a 50,000 meter squared exhibition space, half of which has been used for the exhibition. Here visitors will come across 24 National Participants and the second half of “May You Live In Interesting Times”  exhibition.

If you are an art lover, you will find that the official program has lots to offer anyone visiting Venice in 2019.
Among the pavilions to visit, the Venice Pavillon is not to be missed.


[Jacopo Salvi – Photo courtesy La Biennale di Venezia]

The Venice Pavilion

A group of seven international artists with strong creative ties to the Italian art scene were selected to represent the city itself in the Venezia Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia: Mirko Borsche, Lorenzo Dante Ferro, Sidival Fila, Ferzan Özpetek, Plastique Fantastique, Fabio Viale and Giorgos Koumentakis. Curated by Giovanna Zabotti in collaboration with artistic directors Alessandro Gallo and Stelios Kois, the exhibition will present the artists’ collective response to their individual experiences of the city of Venice.

The Venezia Pavilion this year is the first to transcend the confines of a pavilion and infiltrate the city beyond.

The Pavilion is itself a work of art in which the choral nature of the works, the fruit of individual experiences, represent their collective vision. The concept of the exhibition is inspired by the urban fabric of the city, exploring its history and mythology. Through an immersive environment, the artists aim to capture the essence of Venice through the elements that over time have become symbols associated with the city – sacred images, boats, bricole, chains and water – and the use of materials that characterize it such as stone, marble, wood, rope and fabric.


Collateral Events

The 2019 calendar includes 21 collateral events. Some of the most interesting are:

George Baselitz – Academia
Georg Baselitz is the first living artist to exhibit at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. The exhibition, curated by Kosme de Barañano, traces sixty years of an extraordinary career of the German artist through paintings, drawings and sculptures. Baselitz’s work has been deeply influenced by the relationship with Italian art and is undoubtedly one of the most authoritative German artists to have contributed to the debate on the role of art.

Where: Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, Dorsoduro, 1050 (Campo della Carità)
When: Until September 8th 2019

Ichich – Ichihr – Ichwir / We All Have to Die
Curated by Francesco Bonami, this event is not a retrospective but it is the first major exhibition of the late artist’s work in an Italian institution.

Where: Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Castello, 5252 (Campo Santa Maria Formosa)
When: Until November 24th 2019

Philippe Parreno – Elsewhen
This exhibition displays a new installation by French artist Philippe Parreno.

Where: Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, San Marco 1353 (Calle del Ridotto)
When: Until November 24th 2019



History of the Venice Biennale

The Art Biennale has a rich history that spans over many decades. This year marks the 58th exhibition of the art event, which is also the 20th anniversary of the President of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta, as well as the major transformation that the event went through twenty years ago.

In 1893, La Biennale was born when Riccardo Selvatico, then Mayor of Venice, decided to organize an international art exhibition with the help of the city council. In April 1895, the first event was opened with King Umberto I and Queen Margherita di Savoia in presence. It was known as “I Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte della Citta di Venezia” and had an impressive 200,000 visitors.

From the very beginning, the art exhibition was set up to be a bi-annual event, hence the name. Although the concept was launched in Venice first, it soon became popular and was followed by a lot of other cultural events all over the world.
Fast forward to recent times, and we now have the 58th event organized by La Biennale, a cultural institution that is among the most prestigious in the world.


More Art to see

For art lovers in Venice we recommend two further exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana of the Pinault Collection.


La Pelle – Luc Tuymans – Palazzo Grassi

Luc Tuymans is considered one of the most influential international artists. His works address issues of the past and recent history and portray subjects from the artist’s personal sphere or from the press or from the web, who are portrayed in a rarefied light to the point of communicating to the viewer a sort of authentic falsification of reality.

The exhibition is hosted in Palazzo Grassi and is part of a rich program of monographs dedicated to some of the most authoritative contemporary artists.

Luogo e Segni  – curated by Martin Bethenod – Punta della Dogana

Martin Bethenod is the director of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana and together with Mouna Mekouar, an independent curator, they created “Luogo e Segni”, an exhibition that brings together 36 artists whose works create a direct and special relationship with the urban context and social. The project includes 17 artists who were involved for the first time in the Pinault Collection exhibitions in Venice, along with iconic artists who have made history since the opening in 2009.

Lorenzo Quinn Building Bridges 2019 Venice Biennale
Until November 24th 2019
This is one of the most ambitious projects by Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn. It is an installation characterized by six pairs of hands that intertwine forming a bridge, a symbol of commonality. Each pair of hands describes one of the six universal values ​​of humanity: friendship, faith, help, love, hope and wisdom.

[Jacopo Salvi – Photo courtesy La Biennale di Venezia]


Photo Credits: Ginevra Bonino

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