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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Oct 2019 > Art for Art’s Sake

Art for Art’s Sake

Thinking of visiting the Venice Biennale this year? There are exhibitions throughout the city until late November, and Rachael Martin is your guide to the highlights
The Padiglione Centrale, or Central Pavilion, is the site of the first Biennale Art Exhibition, which took place in 1895
Images courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

This year’s 58th Biennale is May you live in interesting times, curated by New York born Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s prestigious Hayward Gallery since 2006. May you live in interesting times, where interesting means challenging, threatening, was quoted in 1936 by Sir Austen Chamberlain when German troops moved into the Rhineland. Chamberlain said it was a Chinese curse, although it turned out this wasn’t true, not that this damaged its rhetorical effect. Works are distributed between the two main venues, the Arsenale and the Giardini, and for the first time divided into Proposition A at the former and Proposition B at the latter. Both venues show the same artists to encourage dialogue between the two propositions and highlight the multi-faceted nature of and multiple complexities within each artist’s work. Then there are the national pavilions, both at the two main venues while others are distributed throughout the city. I went off to look at the art.


There’s a lot to see, and part of the whole experience of visiting the Biennale is wandering around at your own pace and seeing what catches your eye and speaks to you personally. And remember, you’re in Venice, so give yourself time to savour that beautiful Venetian light whilst drinking your Bellini as you imagine the days of Maria Callas at the Lido or Peggy Guggenheim laid in her deck chair by the Grand Canal. This is a case where adhering to the stereotypes and a healthy dose of nostalgia is very much the desirable experience, providing it’s taken for what it is.

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About Italia!

We start our exploration of 'il bel paese' in the beautiful northern region of Piedmont. From elegant, cultured cities to the rural heartland of premium wine production, this is a wonderfully diverse place to visit. Our first stop is at the fragrant lavender fields of Sale San Giovanni near Barolo, known as ‘little Provence’.