The Venice Art Biennale is the world's biggest and oldest art festival.
On April 19, 1893 the Venetian City Council passed a resolution to set up an biennial exhibition of Italian Art ("Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale") to celebrate the silver anniversary of King Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy. A year later, the council decreed "to adopt a 'by invitation' system; to reserve a section of the Exhibition for foreign artists too; to admit works by uninvited Italian artists, as selected by a jury." The first Biennale, "I Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia (1st International Art Exhibition of the City of Venice)" opened on April 30, 1895 by the Italian King and Queen, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia. The first exhibition was seen by 224,000 visitors. In 1910 the first internationally well-known artists were displayed- a room dedicated to Gustav Klimt, a one-man show for Renoir, a retrospective of Courbet. A work by Picasso was removed from the Spanish salon in the central Palazzo because it was feared that its novelty might shock the public. By 1914 seven pavilions had been established: Belgium (1907), Hungary (1909), Germany (1909), Great Britain (1909), France (1912), and Russia (1914).
57th Venice Art Biennale
57th edition of the Venice Art Biennale opened to the public with managing editor Olivia Mull carefully selected best design-led exhibitions, spatial installations and pavilion takeovers. Artists, curators, architects, designers, musicians and refugees have all collaborated on works for this year's show. They range from architectural installations to spatial performances, covering topics embracing all aspects of life and society.
Here is what not to miss:
Venice is Sinking
Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn calls attention to this threat with his arresting, larger-than-life sculpture in the sinking city. Support features two 5,000-pound hands bursting out of the Grand Canal and grasping the walls of the historic Ca' Sagredo Hotel.
Living Dog Among Dead Lions by Vahjiko Chachkhiani Georgian Pavilion, Arsenale
A for of a small abandoned wooden hut, found in the Georgian countryside and reassembled by artist Vajiko Chachkhiani on-site. Furniture, pictures, lights and other household items are the only occupants of the cabin.
Chachkhiani has simulated a never-ending rainstorm inside the hut by puncturing the ceiling with hundreds of holes and installing an irrigation system above. Water puddles on the floor and furniture, and trickles through cracks in the wood. Visitors can watch the interior decay and rot over the course of the biennale, while the exterior of the house will remain untouched.
Folly by Phyllida Barlow British Pavilion, Giardini
Clustered around the entrance of the neo-classical British Pavilian stand huge sculptures constructed from cardboard, paint, foam, plywood and concrete, metal stands. Created by 73-year-old British sculptor Phyllida Barlow, resembling architectural details or giant toys.
Faust by Anne Imhof German Pavilion, Giardini
Faust has been awarded this year's prestigious Golden Lion prize. It was described by the jury as "a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions about our time". Artist Anne Imhof has transformed the Nazi-era German Pavilion into a hostile stage set for her Faust exhibition. The Doberman dogs stand guard at the the front entrance. Raised glass floor inside, spans the white space and glass pedestals jut out from the walls. Groups of young performers dressed entirely in black sportswear occupy the space. They move emotionlessly amongst visitors to harsh metallic music – crawling under the glass floor, dragging their feet and bizarrely embracing.
Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana
Rumored to be one of the most expensive exhibitions ever put by a contemporary artist and much-discussed exhibition is "all about what you want to believe.", comes from British artist Damien Hirst's Treasures. 16-metre barnacle-encrusted decapitated demon in the Palazzo's courtyard – were supposedly lost in a legendary shipwreck 2,000 years ago and rescued from the sea by the Turner Prize-winning artist.