Being a notorious culturally curious Nomad, there are a few cultural gatherings I look forward to on the social calendar. From my favorite art, film, music, fashion and architecture events, the Venice Biennale definitely wins hands down.
Every two years, a group of friends that are mostly artists, collectors and dealers, and I (who just like to explore the new wonderful things going on in this world) take to the Palazzo on the Grand Canal to enjoy the delights of the Venice Biennale. From stepping off the plane onto a 1950s wooden speed boat that is heading across the waterways towards Venice, one can’t help being seduced by the breathtaking beauty all around.
The week is like a sensory marathon, from spending days wandering through the architectural masterpieces that are the National Art Pavilions in the Gardens, to seeing endless artist exhibitions at the Arsenal and the many wonderful exhibitions held in grand old Palazzi and historic buildings.
It’s the only place in the world where art is everywhere and the old and new are showcased together.
From endless hours of looking at art, discovering new restaurants, enjoying old ones, the black tie parties at Palazzi on the Grand Canal, the late cocktails at the Bauer Hotel and the endless stream of interesting people from around the globe, Venice is magical. The Biennial attracts a fascinating mix that is unlike anything else in the world.
So, to give you an overview of my favorite things going on apart from the Golden Lion award winning German artist Anne Imhoff’s performance piece Faust and the controversy over the Damien Hirst’s Treasures From The Unbelievable, there wasn’t a lot that really resonated with me this year. I liked a few things, but nothing to write home about. Since I’m not an expert on art, I will leave that up to the art critics and give you a guide of the things you must do when visiting the Venice Biennial.
- Visit St. Mark Square and have a coffee at Café Florian.
- Visit the Doge’s Palace and see the exhibition on Hieronymus Bosch by an artist so ahead of his time.
- Wander through the Gardini and take in the art, but also marvel at the magnificent unique architectural masterpieces designed for each country.
- Visit the Arsenale to see all the other contemporary art and then have a cocktail at the Restaurant Terrazza Danieli, which has the best view of the canal.
- Pop into Punta della Dogana, the old customs building converted by my favorite architect, Tadao Ando, that houses the Francois Pinault Collection. Then have nearby lunch ‘alfresco’ over the water at the wonderful restaurant Lineadombra.
- Visit the Prada Foundation exhibitions and then have a drink at the nearby Aman Hotel, which is an amazing restored Villa on the Grand Canal and one of my favorite hotels in the world.
- Pop over to Palazzo Grassi and see what all the fuss is about at the Damian Hirst Exhibition called Treasures from the Unbelievable. I’m pretty certain that I was one of the only people who enjoyed the experience. All of my art friends refused to set foot in the exhibition. I see Damian Hirst as a creative director and brilliant marketer that has created a fantastical myth. He merchandised it in the form of a film showing the discovery of the treasures and the thousands of pieces made in bronze, glass and gold that he and his minions made for the exhibition with impeccable precision and skill.
- Visit The Palazzo Fortuny where Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti, Director of the Palazzo Fortuny, present their sixth exhibition (the ques are long). The exhibition explores how intuition has, in some form, shaped art across geographies, cultures and generations. Historic, modern and contemporary works related to the concept of intuition, dreams, telepathy, paranormal fantasy, meditation, creative power, hypnosis and inspiration.
- Definitely book in advance to enjoy the culinary experience at Cor Vino, a tiny four table restaurant that specializes in exquisite farm to table seasonal local specials partnered with fragrant local wines. It was by far the best food in Venice with a wonderful ambience.
- For the best people watching opportunities, take an afternoon aperitif at one of the outdoor cafes in Campo San Stefano or have a late night drink at The Bauer Hotel Terrace on the Grand Canal.
By Daniela Federici for The Untitled Magazine