Venice Biennale 2013 - The Arsenale, Part 1

The first Bienalle venue we went to was at the Arsenale. It’s a huge space, and we were not able to do all of it, but here’s a review of some of what I did see.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the images. They were taken with my phone, as I didn’t expect to be able to take pictures, so I didn’t bring my camera. I will do better next time.

I've decided that I'm going to only mention a couple of things I really liked, and that I think are worth the trouble to see. I’m generally not going to mention names of artists I didn’t like, but I will show pictures of some of their work. In truth, the exhibition met my expectations: it was mostly crap. At least a third of the space was dedicated to video installations that were mainly unintelligible nonsense. The rooms were so dark you couldn’t see where you were going, and the images were largely uninteresting. Don’t bother.

There were very few paintings, and such as they were, they were not current. They ranged from the 30s through the 80s, and were some of the more interesting things, but they are not contemporary. 

The highlight of the show was a room full of sculptures by Polish artist Pawel Althamer, called “The Venetians.” There are 90 sculptures in all, done in polyethylene, acrylic resin, metal rebar, and paint. They are all painted gray, and all have different faces, molded from real people. They are fascinating.

Another star was the book sculptures by South African Artist Wim Botha. Stacks of books are held together with vices, and then carved like a block of stone. All very interesting.

Finally, one of the most interesting works was an illustrated Genesis, by American Robert Crumb. The drawings are done more in the style of a comic book. Every word of Genesis (as far as I could tell) is drawn into balloons and boxes, and illustrated with pen and ink drawings. A very fascinating work. It’s actually available on Amazon.

I’ll finish this with one of the more disgusting works, by Carol Rama, from about 1940. I’ll let it speak for itself.

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