Course Online about the key exhibitions and history of the Venice Biennale


Why is the Venice Biennale still the leading international art shows? The Venice Biennale has been for over 120 years one of the most prestigious cultural institutions. The arts exhibition saw some of the most renowned 20th- and 21st-century artists presenting their work there and welcomed a range of important critics and art historians as curators of the main exhibitions and the National Pavilions, all contributing to generating the “pluralism of voices” for which the event has been known for. The history of the La Biennale di Venezia dates back from 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized and has an attendance today of over 500,000 visitors. Throughout decades, La Biennale di Venezia has maintained its ability to anticipate new trends in art, while presenting works and artists of every period under renewed perspectives. The preview days brings 25,000 artists, collectors, curators, museum directors and journalists into the city, followed by 600,000 visitors in the six months after.

How has the event gained its prestige? How the curatorial projects of keys figures like Harald Szeemann, Massimiliano Gioni, Okwui Enwezor and Ralph Rugoff, have contributed to its developments? Which is the role of national pavilions organized by dozens of countries, each offering a show of one or more artists?

These are the questions that we will try to respond with insights and intervention by some of the main actors, helping us navigate the cultural influence of the Venice Biennale and its future prospective. We will enrich and deepen your understanding of how the Venice Biennale is basically running through original documents, letters and special guests.

Led by our global faculty, the course, is combining live lectures and discussion — to provide participants with expert insight and guided exploration.

Course 1. The Origins

22 – 25 October 2020

  • A consideration of the history of La Biennale, beginning with a short survey of the inaugural Biennale in 1895 and then focusing on subsequent artistic developments through the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
  • The Biennale is becoming more and more international: the new pavilions build in the Giardini. Emblematic example of the geopolitical changes of the beginning of the 20th century. The architecture and the buildings of the national pavilions.
  • Between the two wars evolution and changes inside of the Biennale. How the fascist regime imposes its political power on the artistic choices and on the status of the Biennale.

Course 2. After the war

29 October – 1 November 2020

  • The Biennale after the second world war: 1948 and Peggy Guggenheim collection in the Greek pavilion.
  • The contribution given by Carlo Scarpa and his idea of display: from the exhibition to the Venezuela pavilion.
  • 1964 the American artists are dominating the scene, and the Golden Lion to Robert Rauschemberg. 1968 a time for revolution. The necessity for the Biennale to update its role.
  • The show Ambiente/ Arte and the 1976 edition. 1980 a new section has been conceived: Aperto.

Course 3. The rise of the curators

5 – 8 November 2020

  • The biennale is getting into a New era: the 1993 the global edition by Achille Bonito Oliva. Analysis of the concept/ display and artists
  • 100 years of the Biennale: Jean Clair from a classical form of exhibition to contemporary art. Analysis of the concept/ display and artists
  • Harald Szeeman and the Biennale becomes even more global. The edition of 1999 and the 2001.

Course 4. The Biennale from a curatorial prospective

12 – 15 November 2020

  • Biennale 2003 and the dictatorship of the viewer. A collaboration between a group of world leading curators under the direction of Francesco Bonami
  • The encyclopedia Palace, by Massimiliano Gioni 2013. An exhibition between art history and contemporary art research.
  • All the world future by Okwui Enwezor: 2015 a post-colonial Biennale. Analysis of the concept/ display and artists
  • Ralph Rugoff, not just a classical exhibition, but rather an immersive understanding of contemporaneity.

The fee per course is 250 euro. In case you choose to take part to more then one course, a discount of 50 euro will be applied to the fee of the next courses. If you decide to follow the four weeks, the total cost will be of 800 euro.

More about the course