Day Three: Venice Biennale

After trekking for days around Venice, Vogue Living correspondent Tina Gomes Brand wraps up her third day at the Venice Biennale, featuring John Pawson’s Swarovski collaboration at the historic Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.


The Venice Biennale is now open to the public, and continues until November 24th. If you are travelling to Europe, be sure to stop by.

Massimiliano Gioni is the curator of this year’s International Art Exhibition, and I noticed the youthful contemporary art expert at various locations, giving tours and interviews. The camps seem divided. Museum professionals have generally welcomed his Palazzo Enciclopedico (Encyclopedic Palace) mega-show, inspired by an Italian-American named Marino Auriti who, in the 1950s, dreamed up a design of the same name for an imaginary museum to house knowledge. The exhibition, across the two sites the Giardini and the Arsenale, includes about 5000 works and champions the lesser-known artist. For some in the art market, though, the departure from known artists proves an obvious disappointment. The murmurs from that quarter are that the exhibition is too museum-like in concept. But, like many others in attendance, I was excited to discover a host of up-and-coming artists.

Marino Auriti's Encyclopedic Palace

A model of Auriti’s proposed 136-storey building for Washington DC, made in his garage in the 1950s, is an imposing starter at the Arsenale.

Japan’s Shinichi Sawada is one of the lesser-known artists on show. Diagnosed as autistic at a young age, he produces spiky terracotta creatures that are crisply executed and charmingly whimsical. He is also the youngest artist represented.

Shinichi Sawada

In amongst the newly revealed artists there are still the well-known, such as Cindy Sherman. She has guest curated a section in the Arsenale on the process of self-identity that includes vintage family photo albums from her own collection.

Minimalist designer John Pawson’s art work for Swarovski makes a lasting impression. His crystal glass lens provides a divine ‘eye’ in the beautiful 16th-century Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.


I travelled nearly 40 hours from Australia to Venice for the five days of Biennale viewing. Was it worth the sore feet and jet lag? Absolutely.

Words: Tina Gomes Brand
Photography: M. Brand


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