Beyond the Biennale: What to visit in Venice this Autumn

On the 13th of May 2017, the 57th Venice Biennale opened to the public.

This year’s edition, entitled “Viva Arte Viva”, is accompanied by several other major exhibitions dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

If you decided to avoid the frenzy of the opening weeks and the heat of the summer months, you are probably planning now your autumn trip to Venice.

Beyond the main event in Giardini and Arsenale, what are the must-see shows in town between September and December?

Here’s our list, with a useful map to find the location of featured museums:

Exhibitions Map


Between Lie and Truth: Damien Hirst

at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana

Nearly 200 works, one of them occupying the entire height of the courtyard of Palazzo Grassi (18 metres): the return of Hirst on the art scene is a colossal project, split in the two venues of the Pinault Foundation in Venice.

“Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” showcases the collection of Cif Amotan II, a freed slave of the II century AD whose ship, the Apistos (meaning “unbelievable” in Greek) wrecked off the Eastern African coast and was only found in 2008.
Do you believe in the story of the Unbelievable? Find the phrase hidden in the anagram of the name of the collector and you’ll discover the truth…

“Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”
through December 3rd, 2017
open daily 10am to 7pm, closed on Tuesdays


Contemporary portraiture: David Hockney

at Ca’ Pesaro

Where does the painter end and the subject begin?

This is the question that Hockney tried to answer while creating his “82 portraits and a still life”: each work was made in three days, in the same size, with the same light and background colors. Famous artists and gallerists, as well as old friends and assistants of the Los Angeles based painter have sit on the same yellow chair to become part of this work.

And the still life? One day, one of the persons invited to be portrayed couldn’t come. As everything was ready for the painting session, Hockney decided not to interrupt his work, and portrayed some vegetables on a bench.

“82 Portraits and 1 Still Life”
through October 22nd, 2017
open daily 10am to 6pm, closed on Mondays


The last Wonder of Axel Vervoordt

at Palazzo Fortuny

Fortuny, Venice, Intuition, Axel Vervoordt, Fausto Melotti, Maurizio Donzelli
Exhibition view at the Fortuny Museum with “Six Breaths” by Maurizio Donzelli (2017) and a sculpture by Fausto Melotti.


The 6th and last collaboration between the Belgian collector and designer Axel Vervoordt and the Fortuny Museum is dedicated to the “Intuition”, a concept described as the “ability to acquire knowledge without… conscious reasoning”.

The gothic Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei provides the perfect setting to immerse the viewer in this magic world where Basquiat finds a place next to prehistoric menhirs and a drape by El Anatsui dialogues with the fabrics designed by Mariano Fortuny.

A Must: mould your clay ball in the installation “Archive of Mind” by Kimsooja on the top floor of the museum.

through November 26th, 2017
open daily 10am to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays


A Labyrinth of Possibilities

at Fondazione Prada

Fondazione Prada, Venice, Ca' Corner della Regina, contemporary art, Alexander Kluge, Thomas Demand, Anna Viebrock
The boat is leaking: Remain or Leave?

Inside Ca’ Corner della Regina, seat of the Fondazione Prada in Venice, the exhibition curated by Udo Kittelman features the works of three different artists: the director Alexander Kluge, the photographer Thomas Demand and the scenographer Anna Viebrock.

Viebrock’s theatre settings transform the spaces of the grand baroque palazzo into a labyrinth that the public can explore freely, in order to find the works by Kluge and Demand: this collaboration and fusion among the different media generates new meanings and perspectives on the single works.

What does the title mean? “The boat is leaking, the captain lied” is taken from the song “Everybody knows” by Leonard Cohen, and it was inspired by a work by the XIX century painter Angelo Morbelli, which the artists and the curator considered to be the depiction of retired sailors.

“The Boat is Leaking, the Captain Lied”
through November 26th, 2017
open daily 10am to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays


Murano Glass goes Contemporary

in “Glasstress”

glasstress, venice, modern contemporary art, vik Muniz, goblets, palazzo franchetti, venice biennale 2017
“Individuals” (2017) by Vik Muniz

For centuries, Venetian master craftsmen have created wonders using glass: what if we asked contemporary artists to use this magic material to shape their imagination?

“Glasstress”, now in its 5th edition, is a successful formula created by Fondazione Berengo in the stunning Palazzo Franchetti on the Grand Canal.

Our favorites this year are the works by Sarah Sze (pointy glass shards spread along all the windows and balconies of the building), Vik Muniz (classic goblets enlarged to the size of a person) and the chandelier by Ai Weiwei.

through November 26th, 2017
open daily 10am to 6.30pm


Back to the Classics: Picasso

at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Pablo Picasso, On the Beach, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, modern art
On the Beach (La Baignade), February 12, 1937 Oil, conté crayon, and chalk on canvas, 129.1 x 194 cm Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 5 © Succession Picasso, by SIAE 2008

One of Peggy’s favorite paintings in her collection was “On the beach (La Baignade)” by Pablo Picasso. This special exhibition in the Venetian museum focuses on this work to explore the relationship between the Spanish master and Mediterranean culture, as part of the project “Picasso Méditerranée” promoted by the Picasso Museum in Paris.

Three paintings, ten drawings and one sculpture are shown together for the first time to illustrate how Picasso was able to transform a classical subject into a modern expression of his personal experience.

“PICASSO. On the Beach”
from August 26th, 2017, to January 3rd, 2018
open daily 10am to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays