“Palazzo Grassi”

Six exhibitions to see in Venice during the Biennale

From 13 May to 26 November, a dense programme has been scheduled at Venice for the 57th Biennale. From Xavier Veilhan’s “Merzbau musical” to Mark Bradford’s social project, we take a little look at the openings not to miss. This year, the Venice Biennale is being steered by a Frenchwoman, Christine Macel, curator of the department of contemporary and prospective creation at the Centre Pompidou. The event’s theme, “Viva Arte Viva”, covers the capacity of artists to “invent their own universes” and “inject vitality into the world we live in”, in the words Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale foundation. This faith in art and the future is a deliberate choice on Baratta’s part after a beautiful but austere 2015 vintage, curated by Okwui Enwezor (“All the World’s Futures”). The Italian city will be welcoming numerous exhibitions and national pavilions simultaneously. Much to see, to hear, and to reflect on…   French Pavilion: a new-generation recording studio This year, the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is being overseen by Xavier Veilhan, and shouldered by curators Lionel Bovier (director of the MAMCO in Geneva) and Christian Marclay (artist and musician). Veilhan, as successor to Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, is setting up a project called “Merzbau musical” which plays on the volumes and decors of the French Pavilion’s space, drawing inspiration from a recording studio. The exhibition’s title is a nod to Kurt Schwitters whose “Merzbau” consisted of a habitable construction of variable dimensions, composed of salvaged objects. Schwitters’ project, initially intended to be named “Cathédrale de la misère érotique” (Cathedral of Erotic Misery), started in Hannover, then continued in Oslo and New York, throughout the artist’s life. In the French Pavilion, Xavier Veilhan places at the public’s disposal all types of musical instruments – some existing, others invented for the...

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Palazzo Grassi: 10 years already 

May 2005. The newspaper Le Monde published a commentary by François Pinault:  “Je renonce” in capitals, I give up. What was the big collector giving up? The building of a contemporary art museum to house his collection on Seguin Island in Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. “Administrative obstacles” had got the better of the project, launched in 2000.But François Pinault, being the businessman that he is, would not let the giving up of this project gnaw away at him. Less than a year later, in April 2006, he inaugurated the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. He brought out the big guns for the occasion: the acquisition of a building for €27 million, five months of renovation entrusted to Japanese Tadao Ando for €5 million. In 2007, the Fondation Pinault extended its empire to the Punta della Dogana, having obtained the green light from Venice to invest in and develop the site. This April, the Palazzo Grassi, made over by Pinault, will be ten years old. At the latest Art Media Agency dinner-debate, its director Martin Bethenod retraced “this fine adventure at a frenzied pace”. It was in 2010 that Martin Bethenod joined the frenzied pace, as chief executive officer and director of the Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana. François Pinault obviously knew who he was dealing with. Martin Bethenod was behind the FIAC’s return to the spotlight — he was its General Director from 2004 to 2010 —, but also a critical success thanks to his artistic direction of the Paris Nuits Blanches event in 2010. So what’s the Bethenod recipe? Solid knowledge of the world of art and its workings. Knowledge that he acquired at the French Ministry of Culture as deputy head editor of Connaissance des Arts, and also at the Centre Pompidou where he was head of the...

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An illuminating exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi

The Palazzo Grassi in Venice is currently holding the exhibition “The Illusion of Light”, curated by Caroline Bourgeois. Showcasing around forty works from the collection of François Pinault, who owns the building, the show runs until 31 December. The exhibition explores themes of light, illumination and revelation, through their metaphorical, symbolic, visible and invisible qualities. The pieces on display have never been included in previous shows in the Palazzo, and several of the works have been created in situ. “The Illusion of Light” features the work of twenty artists: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Troy Brauntuch, Marcel Broodthaers, David Claerbout, Bruce Conner, Latifa Echakhch, Dan Flavin, Vidya Gastaldon, General Idea, Gilbert & George, Robert Irwin, Bertrand Lavier, Julio Le Parc, Antoni Muntadas, Philippe Parreno, Sturtevant, Claire Tabouret, Danh Vo, Doug Wheeler, and Robert...

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Two enlightening exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi

Venice, 18 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). On 13 April, Palazzo Grassi opened two exhibitions entitled “The Illusion of Light” and “Irving Penn, Resonance”, which are both to run until 31 December 2014. “The Illusion of Light” is curated by Caroline Bourgeois. According to the palace’s website, it aims to explore “the physical, aesthetic, symbolic, philosophical and political stakes of an essential dimension of human experience that has also been, since (at least) the Renaissance, a fundamental element of art: light”. The exhibition presents works by twenty different artists, including: Marcel Broodthaers, Latifa Echakhch, Gilbert & George, Robert Irwin, Bertrand Lavier, Julio Le Parc and Robert Whitman. Alongside this, the exhibition “Irving Penn, Resonance”, curated by Pierre Apraxine and Matthieu Humery — head of Christie’s photography department —, presents 130 photographs taken between the end of the 1940s and the 1980s. Amongst these is a selection from the series “small trades”, taken in England, France and the United States in the 1950s, as well as ethnographic photographs and portraits of celebrities from the art world. A large contributor to several institutions like the Palazzo Grassi, Punta della Dogana and le Teatrino, the François Pinault Foundation organises various temporary exhibitions. In May 2005, François Pinault acquired the Venetian palace from the Fiat group after the death of Gianni Agnelli, before calling on Tadao Ando to renovate the palace with a view to creating a vast cultural...

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A palace for Stingel

Venice, 2nd May 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). While the 55th Venice Biennale is scheduled to take place soon, the Palazzo Grassi is completely invested in the promotion of the works of artist Rudolf Stingel, from 7 April to 31 December. The estate of the French businessman and avid collector, François Pinault, allows the artist to freely express his creativity within the 5,000-sqm space at his disposal. The exhibition thus invades the atrium and the two storeys of the palace. The works that are presented include some original artworks, some recent creations as well as a large installation. On the last floor of this majestic building, the artist displays some small-sized oils on religious themes, representing madonnas and saints in an ultra-realistic manner. For the occasion, the rooms of the palace are covered for the first time, from the walls to the flooring with a printed carpet featuring oriental motifs. The event thus presents more than thirty paintings from worldwide collections, including those of the artist and of François Pinault, the owner of the place. The first storey presents a series of abstract paintings created between Merano and New York, portraying a personal rendering of the city of Venice, of its historical, architectural and artistic...

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