Refuge in Venice at Biennale Arte 2024, Part II

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Sunday morning we were off to the far side of Venice. First stop was at the Ca’ D’Oro, as it had not been open due to a big party at the last Biennale. The beautiful late Gothic building was restored by Giorgio Franchetti, and given to the city of Venice more than 100 years ago. The upper floors house Franchetti’s many collections. Currently a collection of golden masterpieces from Umbria are on display.

Part of The Franchetti Collection in Venice
Part of the Franchetti Collection.

The View From The C'a D'Oro in Venice
The view from the Ca’ D’Oro.

The front of the building is finely carved, and is guarded by a group of stone lions.

Wrecks by Cesat Menegheti
Wrecks by Cesar Menegheti.

In the ground floor the atrium, in what was originally a warehouse, there are several works on display. This one, Wrecks-Landings by Cesar Meneghetti brings to our attention the loss of 3,129 children and adults fleeing from conflicts and more who lost their lives in the Mediterranean in 2023. This was one of the many video projects in Venice this year.

Work by Zeng Fanzhi in The Misericordia
Work by Zeng Fanzhi in the Misericordia.

On the other side of Cannaregio, in the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, is a wonderful group of paintings, Near and Far/ Now and Then. The large paintings are displayed on the two floors of the scoula. The pointillist works can be viewed from many angles. LACMA, the Los Angeles museum, sponsored the exhibit.

An Artistic Altar
An artistic altar.

Behind the scuola, is the Chiesetta della Misericordia, a site-specific group of paintings by Yu Hong, Another One Bites The Dust. They speak of Birth, Death, Hope, and Life in a style that reflects the Byzantine and Italian Baroque styles of representation.

The Parking Situation in Venice
The parking situ in Venice.

Walking through this primarily residential area, one can see how residents park in Venice. There were several people working on boat maintenance.

A Light Filled Exhibit At The F0ndation Wilmotte
A light filled exhibit at the Foundation Wilmotte.

Lee Bae, a Korean artist, turned the Foundation Wilmotte into La Maison de La Lune Brûlée. The installation mixes a Lunar New Year celebration, messages, burning paper and charcoal, and includes painting, video and sculpture.

A Sculpure in The Palazzo Diedo
A sculpture in the Palazzo Diedo.

The Berggruen Institute is a new space that offers Janus, a  group of site specific pieces in a palazzo that is still being renovated. Piero Gloia created Concrete Cube with Glass Chandelier. There are also works by Urs Fischer, Sterling Ruby and Mariko Mori, among others. This foundation, which charges an entrance fee, still had workmen all over the place (with some posing as art works?) along with lots of plaster dust and other distractions.

Guideca and S, Giorgio Maggiore
Guideca and S. Giorgio Maggiore.

That afternoon while heading to the other end of the city, I noticed something new posted on the wall of the vaporetto. It was an announcement, in Italian only, that all trains and buses (including water buses) were going to be on strike the next day. That meant that the only real way to get around the city was to walk. We had plans to visit the Vatican pavilion’s group show on the far end of Guidecca, and several shows on the Isola di S. Giorgio. When in Rome Venice …

Campo Santa Maria Formosa in Venice
Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

Last visit we had missed two important palazzos, and decided they were must sees. Both are located near this campo. The Palazzo Querini Stampalia is located to the south of the campo, which is now a foundation, and houses quite an impressive collection of paintings.

On The Phone
On the telefonino.

The canal in front of the palazzo seems to be a major route for gondoliers. This was not the first gondolier I had seen with his face glued to a mobile phone screen. I am not sure if he was looking at a mapping app, or communicating with acquaintances.

The Tribune of The Palazzo Grimini
The Tribune of The Palazzo Grimani.

The Palazzo Grimani, an important 16th century building, was a few doors away. One of the more famous rooms is the Tribune. Giovanni Grimani collected classical statues, and had a room built specifically to house them. For Venice it was an architectural first.  The walls are covered with busts and statues perched on specially built niches.

The Kidnapping of Ganimede by Zeus in the Rotunda
The Kidnapping of Ganymede by Zeus in the rotunda.

And a rotunda soars above the Tribune, with a sculpture suspended above the room.  The palazzo is large, and the opulent decor, with frescos and beautifully painted ceilings, lets you imagine Venetian life in the 16th and 17th centuries. The artist Rick Lowe also has a group of recent painting displayed.

The Grand Canal with the Ca 'Contarini-Polignac On The Right
The Grand Canal with the Ca ‘Contarini-Polignac on the right.

The colors of the Grand Canal are always soothing. We had dinner that night at a restaurant right on the canal, but lucky for us we had made reservations inside as it was raining again.

A Voyage in Egypt in Venice
A Voyage in Egypt.

Since it was our last day, we were going to try and stay local because of the strike. Just across the Accademia Bridge, the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti housed four separate events. One of them, Your Ghosts Are Mineby Egyptian artist Wael Shawky, is set near ancient ruins in Egypt.

A Long Journey By Jacques Martinez
A Long Journey by Jacques Martinez.

Next door, 80-year-old Jacques Martinez has imagined spaces inspired by four cities around the Mediterranean — a conceptual dining room, bedroom, kitchen and more.

San Marco and the Campanile in Venice
San Marco and the campanile.

We then headed to San Marco. I had not been inside the cathedral for many, many years. As mass tourism has grown, so has the lines to get into the building. A wait of several hours is not uncommon. However, I discovered that this year it was possible to buy timed tickets for entry. What a good idea!

The Domes of St Marco
The cupolas of San Marco.

This ticket allowed you to enter the enclosed area where the Pala d’Oro, an ornate gold screen encrusted with gems, is located, and to stand at the altar of the church. The cupola of the Ascension is above. San Marco is crowded, but there is a chapel on one side where people were seated and praying.

The Piano Nobile of The Museo Fortuny
The piano nobile of The Museo Fortuny.

Our next stop was the splendid Fortuny Museum. Mariano Fortuny was of Spanish descent, but flourished in Venice from the late 1900s onwards. He is famous for beautiful textiles, lamps and accessories, and also extravagant clothing. The recently restored palazzo features a piano nobile that evokes the Venice of his time. The Fortuny business was sold by the family, and is still operating out of a large factory on the island of Giudecca. There are Fortuny stores in Venice, Paris and other cities, and there is a Fortuny showroom in New York, and a shoppable website. Replicas of his atelier are a floor up.

Sculptures By Eva Jospin in Vinice
Sculptures by Eva Jospin.

Galleries on the ground floor were showcasing work by Eva Jospin. The artist works with natural materials, like twigs, making complex landscapes. The results are quite fascinating, and work well in the world of Fortuny.

Getting Around Venice On Foot
Getting around Venice on foot.

Next stop: Palazzo Grassi. It was around a bend of the Grand Canal, and it was fun finding the small pathways that run along the side of the canal.

The Palazzo Grassi
The Palazzo Grassi.

The Palazzo Grassi also contains part of the Pinault Collection. The Julie Mehretu Ensemble features work by the American artist, along with works of other artists.

Paintings And Sculpture In Large Galleries
Paintings and sculpture in large galleries

Mehretu does colorful abstract paintings, and also delicate black and white works. Many of her paintings in the exhibition are part of the Pinault family collection. The sculpture in the center of the room is by Huma Bhabha, and is made on a base of cork.

The Grand Canal With No Vaporettos
The Grand Canal with no vaporettos.

With no vaporettos, the canals were filled with taxis and gondolas. Luckily, dinner was booked that night a few blocks from our apartment. Walking around Venice was beautiful if a bit time consuming. And there were so many wonderful things we never got to … from a Lalanne exhibit,  deKooning at the Accademia, the Correr, and more. And there was absolutely no time for shopping on this trip.

But grey skies or blue, Venice is still — and will always be — Venice.

Click here for Part I

Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.

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