In Venice for the Biennale Arte and don’t know where to begin? Whitewaller has you covered with this list of our top pavilions, shops, restaurants, and more.
1. Martin Puryear for the U.S.
Is liberty essentially human? In “Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà,” Martin Puryear will meditate on the notion of freedom through new and recent sculptures, continuing his exploration of abstract forms culled from global sources. In the pavilion’s interior, highly resonant objects will challenge expectations of the material culture of the everyday. A monumental installation, juxtaposed against the Neoclassical design of the pavilion, will activate the forecourt. Echoing complicated visual languages of liberty, Puryear confronts mythologies surrounding citizenry, allegiance, democracy, and responsibility.
2. Laure Prouvost for France
Three themes provide the structure for Laure Provost’s French Pavilion: reflection, disconnection, and escapism. Titled “DEEP SEE BLUE SURROUNDING YOU / VOIS CE BLEU PROFOND TE FONDRE,” the project challenges the common dream of a fluid, global world. Imagined as “a metaphorical immersion” into an octopus-like creature, a fictional film (to be accompanied by a sculptural installation) recounts a road trip from the North of France to Venice, in which dialogue builds the concept of “liquid modernity”—the idea that our constantly evolving world will soon be governed by immediacy.
3. Cathy Wilkes for Great Britain
Cathy Wilkes graduated with a BA from The Glasgow School of Art in 1988 and completed her MFA at the University of Ulster, Belfast in 1992. Wilkes has produced an outstanding and unique body of work spanning 25 years, and she is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artists working in the U.K. In 2016, she was the inaugural recipient of the Maria Lassnig Prize and presented the largest solo exhibition of her work to date at MoMA PS1, New York (2017–2018). Dr. Zoe Whitley, senior curator at the Hayward Gallery, London, will curate this year’s exhibition at the British Pavilion, following an open call selection process by the British Council, the pavilion’s commissioners.
4. Eva Rothschild for Ireland
The Dublin-born, London-based artist Eva Rothschild draws on the language of 1960s Minimalism in sculptures and installations. Her work often deals with presence, personhood, embodiment, and materiality, thinking about what it means to exist in front of work of art (which may take the form of, say, a series of stools or a spray-painted tower of blocks). For the pavilion at the Biennale, she said, “I want to create a situation that suggests multiple sculptural possibilities for rearrangement and reordering in which it becomes difficult to distinguish renewal from collapse.”
5. Helen Frankenthaler at Museo di Palazzo Grimani
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.
6. Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi
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.
7. Joan Jonas at Ocean Space
“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.
8. Bauer Hotel
Known as the only privately owned deluxe hotel entity in Venice, the Bauer Hotels offer three distinctive and unique locations for guests in search of Venetian hospitality. The Bauer Palazzo, located on the Grand Canal and Campo San Moisè, is a five-star 19th-century property with 135 guest rooms and 56 suites. Across from St. Mark’s Square is Palladio Hotel & Spa—a private hotel with 21 suites and 58 bedrooms. A part of Palladio Hotel & Spa is the third outpost, Villa F, which encompasses 11 lavish residences with impeccable furnishings and fabrics, a butler, and a concierge service.
9. Hotel Danieli
The Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice overlooks the Venetian Lagoon and the Grand Canal on Riva degli Schiavoni, boasting legendary palaces and over six centuries of history, culture, and romance. The hotel’s exceptional heritage welcomes guests to explore 204 rooms and suites, and enjoy gorgeous views of Venice’s iconic panoramas.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
10. Harry’s Bar
In 1931, Giuseppe Cipriani opened this establishment at the end of an alleyway. His intention was for guests not to find it by chance, but go out of their way to get there. Visited by kings, queens, and Hollywood legends, the bar was denoted a national landmark in 2001 by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. All the while, it has offered a delicious menu full of specials and classics, run by Giuseppe’s son, Arrigo. The establishment is an intimate gathering spot for industry insiders and locals alike, and the ambience embodies that of the relaxed and social Venetian heritage. Rather than just a bar or a restaurant, Harry’s Bar is a frame of mind, and a celebration of the atmosphere, conversations, and company within its space.
11. Club del Doge restaurant
Located in The Gritti Palace, Club del Doge Restaurant is one of the most celebrated in Venice. Here flavors of fresh and seasonal ingredients from the local territory combine with innovative preparations and intriguing plays of consistency for a tasting experience with infinite facets, and Grand Canal views to match.
OFFICINE904’s philosophy is “less is more,” but that doesn’t undermine the incredible craftsmanship behind the handbags they sell. Since 2010, this multidisciplinary studio has been bringing the art, fashion, design, and architecture worlds together to celebrate original handbag design and more, with a unique boutique concept.
13. Chiarastella Cattana
At home in a former 17th-century “scuola” near Palazzo Grassi, Chiarastella Cattana offers a collection of house-designed linens and fabrics, as well as curated and commissioned contemporary design accessories and clothing. The tranquil boutique also carries a line of signature textured fabrics, crafted entirely in Italy.