2009 Venice Biennale – Art Observed summary of press preview weekend

June 9th, 2009

Michaelangelo Pistoletto’s performance of ‘Seventeen Less One’ at the Venice Biennale, photo by ArtObserved

The 53rd Venice Biennale is now open to the public after a press preview June 4-6.  During that time, Art Observed was on site and also has collected some of the relevant news stories covering the event from the global press.

U.S. representative Bruce Nauman won the Golden Lion for best national participation for his exhibition ‘Topological Gardens,’ curated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Also receiving Golden Lions are Yoko Ono, John Baldessari, and Tobias Rehberger, who won the best artist award for his work ‘What you love also makes you cry.’  Highlights of the Biennale include Britain’s Steve McQueen’s film ‘Giardini,’ which portrays the Biennale Gardens when not used as exhibition space, Liam Gillick at the German Pavilion, covered by AO here, Elmgreem and Dragset’s ‘The Collectors’ at the Danish and Nordic Pavilions, and ‘Making Worlds,’ the International Art Exhibition curated by Daniel Birnbaum, both covered by AO here.

On the Biennale:
Venice Biennale 2009: the opening day
Venice Biennale 2009 [Vernissage TV]
On your vaporetto to the far pavilions [GuardianUK]
Venice Biennale is a glimpse of the future [TimesUK]
Venice Biennale 2009: A photographer’s view [GuardianUK]
Trading places [Financial Times]
Venice Biennale Opens Showing Works by Over 90 Artists from all Over the World [Artdaily]
A More Serene Biennale [NY Times]
This, That, and the Other [Artforum]
It’s Reigning Men [ArtForum]
Blasblog From Venice: And So It Begins [Style.com]
“Art Is Everywhere” [Style.com]
The Venice Biennale opens with top honors for a German artist
[Deutsche Welle via Art Review]
Over and Over: Art That Never Stops
[NY Times]

On Bruce Naumann and the US Pavillion:
Bruce Nauman wins a Golden Lion at Venice Biennale
[LA Times]
Venice is doubly enamored of Bruce Nauman [LA Times]
Venice Biennial: Hear the U.S. Roar [Wall Street Journal]
Shaking up the world of art for decades [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Golden Lion for the Best National Participation Awarded to the U.S. Representation [Artdaily]
Nauman Tops Venice Biennale, Wins Golden Lion: Martin Gayford [Bloomberg]

On Pinault’s innaugaration of his new museum:
Francois Pinault Opens The New Punta della Dogana Contemporary Art Centre in Venice [Artdaily]
How the French Charles Saatchi became the merchant of Venice [Guardian]
Pinault’s Venice Empire Grows With Cool Contemporary-Art Museum [Bloomberg]

On Steven McQueen, representing the UK at the Biennale:
Steve McQueen at the Venice Biennale: Private view with Adrian Searle [Guardian]
Art Charities Collaborate to Fund Steve McQueen’s Giardini for Venice [Artdaily]
Steve McQueen found something new in Venice [Guardian]
Steve McQueen’s “Giardini” at the Venice Biennale [IFC]
Steve McQueen lets Venice Biennale viewer do the feeling with Giardini [Times]

On Swoon’s Swimming Cities of the Serrenisma,video from the New York Landing of her boat in previously in Long Island City covered by Art Observed here:
Barging in to Venice [New York]
Swoon in Venice, Italy [dailyDuJour]
Barging in to Venice [New York Magazine]

And more:
Venice Biennale: Flashing Lights [NY Times]
Venice Biennale: Ships in the Sky
[NY Times]
Venice Biennale: Listening to Art [NY Times]
Rauschenberg at the Guggenheim in Venice [Financial Times]
United Arab Emirates confronts stereotypes in Venice Biennale debut
Ukraine pavilion is a Venice Biennale knockout [TimesUK]

more photos and story after the jump…

Bruce Nauman’s ‘Fifteen Pairs of Hands’at the American Pavilion via The Guardian

Bruce Nauman won the Golden Lion for best national participation for his installation, ‘Topological Gardens,’ a four decade survey of the artist’s work that includes sculpture and Nauman’s signature neon works. This is the first time since 1990 that an American has won the award, the most prestigious of the Biennale. S peaking of Nauman’s work, the Biennale stated that it ‘reveals the magic of meaning as it emerges through relentless repetition of language and form.’

Still from Steve McQueen’s ‘Giardini’ at the British Pavilion via The Guardian

After Britain’s controversial pick of Tracey Emin in 2007, Steve McQueen’s quiet film ‘Giardini’ has had a more evenly positive response. The film looks at the Giardini, one of the major exhibition spaces of the Biennale, when it is not in use. McQueen won the Caméra d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for his first feature film, ‘Hunger.’

Opening of the International Art Exhibition, ‘Making Worlds,’ curated by Daniel Birnbaum via Vernissage TV

Installation view of Hector Zamora’s ‘Stuck Inflatable Zeppelin’ via NY Times

Mexican artist Hector Zamora has created a number of blimps, stuck in between buildings and floating around the city. Zamora also created corresponding videos of blimps flying above Venice.

A spectator at Elmgreen and Dragset’s ‘Death of a Collector’ at the Danish and Nordic Pavilions via The Guardian

Curators Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have teamed together, jointly representing the Danish and Nordic Pavilions for an installation called ‘The Collectors.’  More detailed coverage of these pavillions can be found by Art Observed here. The installation includes work by several artists, including Wolfgang Tillmans, Jonathan Monk, Terence Koh, and others. The crux of the installation is the home of fictional curator, Mr. B, who is found floating dead in the pool outside.

Installation view of Claude Lévêque’s ‘Le Grande Soir’ at the French Pavilion via The Guardian

Swoon’s ‘Swimming Cities of Serenissima’ via dailyDuJour

Brooklyn graffiti artist Swoon, while not officially part of the Biennale, has crashed the party with three boats made of found objects.  Two of the boats are made from debris fromNew York city, while the third’s materials come from Slovenia, where the boats were assembled.

Ragnar Kjartansson in ‘The End’ at the Icelandic Pavilion via Artdaily

British artist and theorist Liam Gillick is the first non-German to represent Germany. The German Pavilion was rebuilt in 1938 under Hitler’s orders, and the fascist architecture remains controversial. Gillick decided to leave the original architecture untouched in his installation, and insert ultra-modern, nearly non-ideological wooden cabinets throughout the building.  More detail from this exhibition can be found by Art Observed here.

Michaelangelo Pistoletto’s performance of ‘Seventeen Less One’ at the Venice Biennale, photo by ArtObserved

Michaelangelo Pistoletto’s performance of ‘Seventeen Less One’ at the Venice Biennale, photo by ArtObserved

The above are photos by  Art Observed of, “If art is lifes mirror, then I am the mirrormaker.”(Michelangelo Pistoletto,Division and Multiplication of the Mirror,1978)  During the opening day of this year’s Biennial on June 4th, some visitors might have wondered about the simplicity of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s installation in Daniel Birnbaum’s Arsenale.  Unlike Pistoletto’s latest silkscreen print mirrors shown at Luhring Augustine in New York in November last year, the Arsenale mirrors didn’t have any narrative elements until the artist put his final touch with the help of a wooden hammer duringa crowded performance in the afternoon of June 5th.

Spectators at Abu Dhabi’s ADACH Pavilion via The Guardian

Saburo Murakami’s ‘Hako’ via NY Times

Chu Yun’s ‘Constellation No. 3′ via NY Times

Ogata Kinichi, Illya Chichkan and Yahara Misuhiro at the opening of the Ukrainian pavilion at the Venice Biennale via The Times

Jan Fabre’s ‘From the Feet to the Brain’ via The Guardian

Ebtisam Abdul Aziz’s ‘Four Probabilities’ at the UAE Pavilion via The Guardian

Anatoly Shuravlev’s ‘Black Holes’ at the Russian Pavilion via The Guardian

– Photos and on site coverage by Stephanie Weber