A Guide to Exhibitions Outside The Venice Biennale: Art, Music, Design, and Jewellery

  • 4 Apr '24
  • 1:54 pm by Vatsala Sethi

The Venice Biennale is an annual showcase of art and architecture that brings together artists, designers, creators, and creatives from across the globe. While the biennale is annual, the main exhibition alternates between art and architecture. This year it’s focused on art and the theme is ‘Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere’ at Giardini and Arsenale, it will be curated by Adriana Pedrosa and organized by la Biennale di Veneto taking place from April 20th to November 24th, 2024. This edition’s title is taken from a collection of works created by the Claire Fontaine collective located in Palermo. While the collective was founded twenty years ago, her neon sculptures continue to raise ethical questions by enlarging the words ‘Foreigners Everywhere’ in 53 different languages from around the globe, with a focus on those that are critically endangered or extinct. From looking through the archives of Buccellati’s designs, and celebrating retrospectives of renowned artists like Jean Cocteau, William de Kooning and MF Hussain to witnessing a music and design collaboration, DP has you covered with its list of must-see exhibitions outside the Venice Biennale.

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Willem de Kooning, Screams of Children Come from Seagulls (Untitled XX) (1975)
(Image Credit: The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE)

#1 Willem de Kooning and Italy –  Gallerie dell’Accademia

The first major show in Venice will focus on how artist Willem de Kooning was inspired by his two visits to Italy, in 1959 and 1969. The show will include 75 works ranging from the late 1950s to the ‘80s, it’s the largest-ever presentation in Italy of the Dutch-American Abstract Expressionist’s work and, according to the organizers, the only show ever to closely study Italy’s influence on him.

A number of the enormous and striking “Black and White Rome” drawings that de Kooning created during his first prolonged visit to Rome in 1959 will be on display. They will be on display alongside pieces created in the years preceding de Kooning’s initial trip to Italy in the late 1950s. This section of the exhibition also includes large figurative paintings from the mid-1960s that paved the way for his interest in sculpture.

Amy Schichtel, Executive Director, of The Willem de Kooning Foundation, said: “The Foundation is delighted to be collaborating with the Gallerie dell’Accademia to present this important exhibition, as it allows us to share Willem de Kooning and the curators’ exceptional vision with a wide-ranging, diverse international community. The exhibition offers an extraordinary opportunity to present new research and insights to enrich the experience of Accademia’s thousands of local and afar visitors.”

The exhibition opens on April 17 and will run till September 15, 2024.

Brooch with a Ramage openwork in silver and yellow gold set with sapphire and diamonds, designed by Mario Buccellati, handcrafted in the 1940s. Currently a part of a Private collection (Image Credit: Balich Wonder Studio)

#2 ‘The Prince of Goldsmiths’ by Buccellati at Oficine 800

Another reason to go to Venice this April is ‘The Prince of Goldsmiths, Rediscovering the Classics,’ a large retrospective exhibition ready to reveal to the public, all the heritage, history, and craftsmanship of the Italian firm. The exhibition retraces the distinctive themes of Buccellati’s creations conquering eternity through beauty and mastery. Creative Concept and Executive production of the exhibition is by Balich Wonder Studio. It uses jewellery and silver objects to show how important decisions and occasions have shaped the history of the Italian house. It is arranged according to four major themes: First of all, the butterfly emblem symbolises the way the generations of the Buccellati family have taken turns steering the Maison‘s creative direction over the years. Second, the epitome of elegance is now associated with exquisite jewels and priceless gold and silver accessories. Thirdly, the silver masterpieces that epitomise the Buccellati Style are recognised for their proficiency in the age-old techniques of silver embossing and chiselling. Fourthly, the icons of the Buccellati jewels are displayed as authentic works of art, evoking a significant analogy with classical mythology.

The exhibition retraces the history of the Maison by focusing on the craftsmanship of its most famous creations, including the bracelet from the Macri collection, from its origin designed by Mario to its evolution by Andrea Buccellati, known for its characteristic engraving; the tulle pendant from the latest Mosaico high jewellery collection designed by Andrea; and finally the silver objects inspired by nature and organic shapes.

The exhibition will be on view from April 18 to June 18, 2024, in Venice.

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M.F. Husain’s work from 1990, Karbala, Oil crayon on paper (Image Credit: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art)

#3 ‘The Rooted Nomad’ Works by MF Hussian at Magazzini del Sale

Running concurrently to this year’s Venice Biennale is ‘The Rooted Nomad’, an immersive exhibition that explores the life and work of Maqbool Fida Husain, remembered as the most celebrated and globally renowned Indian artist of the 20th century. Supported by the Indian art collector Kiran Nadar, Chairperson at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), the exhibition will take place at the Magazzini del Sale in Dorsoduro in Venice from April through November 2024. Husain’s earthy-bold colours and expressive brushwork became the quintessential style of Indian modernism. The exhibition will celebrate Husain’s versatility as an artist, thinker and writer, juxtaposing his wooden toys, paintings, photographs, letters, snippets from his films, collages, letters and poetry that shaped his vision of India as a richly layered ‘cultural mosaic’. To him, India was a cultural mosaic and so he didn’t restrict his painting to within the studio. 

The exhibition will be on view from April 18 to November 2024.

Making of ‘Impact Glass’ by Arne Quinze for ‘Are We The Aliens_’, 2024 (Image Credit: Dave Bruel)

#4 ‘Are We The Aliens_’  at San Francesco della Vigna

Arne Quinze, a Belgian artist, and Swizz Beatz, an American music producer, will co-host ‘Are We The Aliens’ in Venice to coincide with the 60th Venice Biennale, which runs from April 20th through November 24th. Visitors will be immersed in Swizz Beatz’s soundscapes and immersed in Quinze’s sculptures in the immersive Sonic Levitation installation (2024) which will take place on the first level of the church’s Scoletta (the three-storey private religious study). The exhibition will also feature Quinze’s impact glass (2024) on the ground floor – fifteen individual glass sculptures designed by Arne Quinz in collaboration with Berengo Studio on the church’s voluted columned colonnade. Through a multisensory experience, the exhibition seeks to revive respect for nature and encourage people to consider how humans affect the ecosystem. Are We The Aliens invites contemplation on how civilisation has become estranged from nature in line with the Biennale’s theme of ‘Foreigners Everywhere.’

The exhibition will be on view from April 20 to November 24, 2024.

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Jean Cocteau, the Crossing of Three Roads, 1951, Oil on canvas, Private Collection (Image Credit: Adagp/Comité Cocteau, Paris, by SIAE 2024)

#5 Jean Cocteau: The Juggler’s Revenge,

Starting from April 13 until September 16, 2024, Italy will host a grand retrospective celebrating the life and work of Jean Cocteau(1889–1963), an artist who made a name for himself in France‘s twentieth-century art scene. Cocteau’s artistic influence was felt across the cultural landscape of the last century. The exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection offers a window into Cocteau’s world, showcasing his prowess as a draftsman, graphic artist, muralist, fashion, and textile designer, and filmmaker. 

The exhibition will feature a curated collection of drawings that will not only demonstrate Cocteau’s skill but also highlight the importance of desire in his artistic expression. Visitors will also gain insight into his complex relationship with avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. The exhibition’s crowning piece is the Academician Sword for Jean Cocteau (1955).

“Jean Cocteau: The Juggler’s Revenge provides an ideal opportunity to revisit the art of Cocteau, and to see him with a fresh 21st-century point of view. His astonishing artistic range–for which, in his lifetime, he was often criticized for spreading himself too thin—now looks prescient, a model for the kind of wide-ranging cultural fluidity we now expect of contemporary artists,” says the curator Kenneth E.Silver. 

The exhibition goes live on April 13, 2024, and will be on display till September 16, 2024.

Video Still from The Painting Class, 2024, Solmi (Image Credit: Galerie Beckers)

#6 ‘Ship of Fools’ by Federico Solmi at Palazzo Donà dalle Rose

Media art pioneer Federico Solmi will return to Italy, his home country, after 20 years with an exhibition entitled ‘Solmi – Ship of Fools.’ The show will be an immersive artistic experience that transports viewers to an intriguing world where reality and virtual reality collide. There will be ten virtual reality pieces, ten paintings, ten video works, ten ceramic sculptures, and one holographic sculpture on display.

The title, ‘Ship of Fools,’ refers to several classical literary and artistic works that together examine the ignorance and aspiration of public officials. The exhibition’s title piece, created by the artist, reimagines a painting by Géricault. It features a collection of historical and contemporary figures from many cultures, including the empress Theodora, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Hernán Cortés, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian, Pope Benedict XVI, Napoleon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Zuckerberg.

From April 18 to July 28, 2024, the dystopian exhibition will be at the Palazzo Donà dalle Rose in Venice.