Outside visiting each country’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale Arte, be sure to save time in your schedule to check out these must-see exhibitions, at the city’s top museums, galleries, and collections.
Sean Scully: Human
Abbey San Giorgio Maggiore
May 11–October 13
“Human” is a collection of recently created works by Sean Scully, inspired by the monks, illuminated manuscripts, and architecture of the exhibition space: Abbey San Giorgio Maggiore. Sprawling across the 16th-century church, “Human” will feature parchment watercolors at the altar, triptychs in the garden, and even Opulent Ascension, a ten-meter stacked-frame sculpture that crescendos through its dome. The sculpture, much like the rest of Scully’s oeuvre, emphasizes the connection between the physical and the transcendental through art. As his new, spiritual works reverberate through the abbey’s hallowed halls, Scully’s work can also be found in landmark 2019 shows at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, the National Gallery in London, and the LWL Museum in Münster.
Jörg Immendorff: Ichich, Ichihr, Ichwir, We All Have to Die
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Campo Santa Maria Formosa
May 8–November 24
“Ichich, Ichihr, Ichwir, We All Have to Die” is the first major exhibition of the work of Jörg Immendorff (1945–2007) in an Italian institution. Curated by Francesco Bonami, the show will confront the German artist’s exploration of artistic identity as well as Immendorff’s relationship to his own paintings. One featured work displays a sculpted figure smoking a pipe before a canvas, surrounded by political and art historical relics. The canvas, much like Immendorff’s work as a whole, grapples with the complications of postwar German political and psychological life through densely symbolic visual language and patches of darkness.
Galleria Giorgio Franchetti Alla Ca’D’Oro
May 8–November 24
“We purposely decided to stage DYSFUNCTIONAL during the world’s most important art exhibition, the Venice Art Biennale, to question what defines an artwork, why can artworks not be functional and when does design become art?” shared Julien Lombrail and Loïc Le Gaillard, co-founders of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. A group show that responds to Ca’d’Oro, DYSFUNCTIONAL features 17 artists in conversation with its incredible architecture and the Italian masterpieces it houses. These artists will dialogue with Andrea Mantegna’s San Sebastian, Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion, and Bernini’s Rio della Plata, in an impressive exploration of artistry, design, the historic, and the contemporary.
“Domus Grimani 1594–2019”
Museo Di Palazzo Grimani
Santa Maria Formosa
In the 16th century, Giovanni Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia, set up classical statues at the Palazzo Grimani. Now, for the first time in 430 years, the sculptures return to their original location, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the precious, exceptional collection of works. The renovated installation showcases the Palazzo Grimani as an exemplary Venetian palace adorned with both local and Tosco-Roman decorative details. This celebratory exhibition welcomes a contemporary retelling while embracing a sacrosanct past.
PITTURA/PANORAMA: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952–1992
Museo Di Palazzo Grimani
Santa Maria Formosa
Palazzo Grimani presents a selection of paintings drawn from the Foundation’s collection, organized by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and Venetian Heritage, in association with Gagosian. Focusing on 14 works that punctuate four decades of production, “PITTURA/PANORAMA” traces Helen Frankenthaler’s development of the pittura and panorama. The works are easel paintings (but made on the floor) and large, horizontal paintings that reveal shallow but elongated space. “PITTURA/PANORAMA” will be the first presentation of Frankenthaler’s work in Venice since its display at the 1966 American Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.
Brigette Niedermair: Me and Fashion
Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto, del Costume e del Profumo
Venezia Centro Storico
May 9–November 24
A unique voice in a male-dominated field, Merano-born Brigitte Niedermair is a photographer who weaponizes her feminine perspective to provocatively and poetically contemplate female bodies. “Me and Fashion” will present alluring fashion photography, sprawling through the Mocenigo family’s apartments, which are embellished with 18th- and 19th-century furniture and paintings. The atmosphere will allow for a direct dialogue with the history of art, its still lifes, masculinity, and gaze.
MOVING OFF THE LAND II
BY JOAN JONAS
Ocean Space at Church of San Lorenzo
“Moving Off the Land II” inaugurates Ocean Space, a new collaborative platform launched by TBA21–Academy that fosters transdisciplinary research and collective action around the preservation and renewal of our oceans. Venice, as the new home of Ocean Space, now serves as an embassy for environmental engagement in homage to its history of exchange. Artist Joan Jonas pays tribute to the initiative with the exhibition “Moving Off the Land II,” which features drawings, sculptures, video installations, and sound works that position the oceans as spiritually, totemically, and ecologically central. Acting as a catalyst, Jonas expertly unites the work of Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Sy Montgomery, and Rachel Carson with contemporary scientific research to promote change, conversation, and collaboration.
May 11–November 24
Fortuny presents the first international retrospective of work by Yun Hyong-
keun (1928–2007) since his death in 2007. Presented by the MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea) and MUVE (Civic Museums of Venice), the exhibition comprises 55 works from throughout Yun’s career. Many of Yun’s paintings capture the poignancy and devastation of his nation—in a series painted after the May 1980 Gwangju Massacre, for example—while in others he gracefully displays Korean beauty conventions. A wealth of personal photos, early drawings, and excerpts from his journals will enrich the exhibition.
Luc Tuymans: La Pelle
Now–January 1, 2020
For Luc Tuymans’s first solo show in Italy, curator Caroline Bourgeois collaborated with the artist himself in selecting works from the Pinault Collection, international museums, and private collections. Titled “La Pelle” (the skin) after Curzio Malaparte’s 1949 novel, the exhibition features over 80 pieces, spanning Tuymans’s career. Tuymans’s works address recent history and the present, in scenes from domestic and public realms rendered in offset lighting. The result is an anxious portrayal of our banality. “La Pelle” will also include a new work, site-specific to Palazzo Grassi.
“The Nature of Arp”
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Jean (Hans) Arp was a founder of the Dada movement and a pioneer of abstraction who, over the course of six decades, embraced dynamic, organic forms that bled between abstraction and representation. “The Nature of Arp” comprises 70 objects—sculptures, painted wood reliefs, collages, drawings, textiles, and illustrated books—including the seven works by Arp already in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Negotiating an extremely diverse oeuvre, the exhibition contemplates the significant role of nature and universality in Arp’s work, particularly in relation to the shattered post-WWI European landscape.
“Luogo e Segni”
Punta della Dogana
Curated by Martin Bethenod, director of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana, and Mouna Mekouar, independent curator, “Luogo e Segni” is a group show of approximately 100 works by 30 international artists. The title, which translates to “Place and Signs,” indicates the exhibition’s central theme of the artists’ relationships to their own settings. These settings can be literal or abstract—urban, intellectual, political, social, historical. Selected artists include Berenice Abbott, Trisha Donnelly, R. H. Quaytman, Wu Tsang, Louise Lawler, Agnes Martin, and Julie Mehretu.
May 11–October 20
“Time, Forward!” questions the 21st-century notion of time and its relation to consciousness, action, and sight. A project by Omar Kholeif, Maria Kramar and V-A-C, “Time, Forward!” includes 13 new commissions. It is thus an exhibition-specific, critically engaged selection of works, diversely reflecting on violence, time traveling, and exploring virtuality. Rosa Barba, Aleksandra Domanović, Valentin Fetisov, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Daria Irincheeva, Alexandra Sukhareva, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Adam Linder, Haroon Mirza, Trevor Paglen, Walid Raad, James Richards, Kirill Savchenkov, and Where Dogs Run will each propose their vision of time and their perception of its functions in the present day.
Melissa McGill: Red Regatta
MaGazzino Italian Art Foundation
A series of synchronized traditional sailboats, “Red Regatta” is an unprecedented display, set to take place during the Venice Biennale. Over the course of the Biennale, multiple regattas, performances, and a series of smaller regattas will ride the waterways. Hoisted with hand-painted red sails, the armada signals and celebrates the maritime history of the city of lagoons and the unique culture that identity has created. Melissa McGill has stated, “Against the contrasting sky and sea, the reds reference the forces of life and passion, of alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terracotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade in red pigment, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters.”
Alberto Burri: The Unbreakable Power of Painting
Fondazione Giorgio Cini
San Giorgio Maggiore
May 10–July 28
Curated by Bruno Corà, the president of the Fondazione Burri, “The Unbreakable Power of Painting” presents the first chronological survey of Alberto Burri. Featuring 50 masterpieces, including many large-scale, never-before-seen works and loans from the Fondazione Burri, the exhibition delivers a comprehensive
understanding of the postwar artist, shedding light on Burri’s radical take on 20th-century art. Visitors can expect to see Catrami (Tars), 1948, the Ferri (Irons), 1958, and the Cretti (Cracks), 1970s, all of which speak to Burri’s transformative use of materials—his process of turning “matter” into art.