Home Magazine Venice 2019 | Prada Vs Pinault

Today the 58th Venice Biennale officially opens its doors to the public until 24th November 2019. Of course, the questions are always the same: what to see and how to choose between a myriad of exhibitions? But relax, because as always we are ready to guide you across the most beautiful artistic contributions of this edition, and for those who stayed behind, here are our latest articles:

Venice Biennale 2019 What to see and Where to go?Ralph Rugoff's "May You Live in Interesting Times"Milovan Farronato and the Italian Pavillon.

Now, it's time to tell you something more about the two titans of Venice: Prada and Pinault. 

Both placed in the city center, the two giants know well that every year, close spring time, a new challenge for conquerring the Serenissima's heart comes. And while Prada is studying the next move inside the beautiful rooms of Cà Corner della Regina, Pinault is ready to counter by placing its forces between Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana. So, who's gonna win? 

Of course, this introduction is overly contaminated by the recent disease for "GoT" (Game of Thrones), but it's true that during a typical Biennial's trip, a visit to both of the pretenders’ palaces is a must. And because in any respectable novel there are characters who decide to change their faction, we can start by talking about Luc Tuymans’s solo show at Palazzo Grassi, after his latest role as a curator for the Prada Foundation exhibition in Milan “Sanguine - Luc Tuymans on Baroque”.

Palazzo Grassi | "La Pelle" (The Skin)

Titled ‘La Pelle’ (The Skin), after Curzio Malaparte’s 1949 novel, the show includes over 80 works from the Pinault Collection, international museums and private collections, and focuses on the artist’s paintings from 1986 until today. Curated by Caroline Bourgeois in collaboration with the artist (Mortsel, Belgium, 1958) this exhibition is part of the cycle of monographic shows and ‘carte blanche’ dedicated to major contemporary artists, launched in 2012 and alternating with thematic exhibitions of the Pinault Collection.

Luc Tuymans has been dedicating himself to figurative painting since the mid 1980s, he has contributed throughout his career to the rebirth of this medium in contemporary art and now is considered as one of the most influential painters of the international art scene. The exhibition path is not chronological, because want to suggests dialogues and comparisons and rather insist on the spatialisation of the artworks.The artist's work deal with questions connected to the past and to more recent history and address subjects of our daily lives through a set of images borrowed from the private and public spheres – the press, television, the Internet. Luc Tuymans renders these images by dissolving them in an unusual and rarefied light; the slight anxie- ty that emanates from them is able to trigger – according to the artist himself – an ‘authentic forgery’ of reality. In this vaste panorama of artworks its includes a site-specific work conceived for the atrium of Palazzo Grassi: a marble mosaic of over 80 square meters which reproduces Schwarzheide, an artwork painted in 1986 by the artist. 

Luc Tuymans is contemporary painting’s philosopher-thug. He’s taken the image and snapped its neck, rendering it silent and still – a body wholly body, laid out as for an autopsy or on display as at a wake. Either way, the image hardly resembles itself. Forensic consideration of the effect must start with the question of what, in the first place, images even are. Today they permeate every as- pect of our lives in ways that defy analysis – sliding among phones, laptops, televisions, billboards, magazines, and paintings and between material and immaterial. In the twenty-first century, we eat and sleep digital images. It is impossible to think outside them. Tuymans thinks through them – using them against themselves. This entails brutality.
(From the Catalogue; Crimes of Dispassion: Materiality and Reality of Images
Jarrett Earnest)


Luc Tuymans, Schwarzheide, 2019, after the 1986 eponymous oil on canvas, marble mosaic Fantini Mosaici Milano 960x960cm.
Installation view "La Pelle", Palazzo Grassi  2019, Photo Credits Palazzo Grassi, Photo by Matteo De Fina.


Luc Tuymans, Our New Quarters, 1986, oil on canvas, 80,5x120cm, MMK Museum Für Modern Kunst Frankfurt am Main.
Gift of the artist. Photo Credits Ben Blackwell. Courtesy: David Zwirner New York/London

Punta della Dogana "Luogo e Segni" 

‘Luogo e Segni’ is an itinerary through some inner geography where nature, creation and poetry intertwine, and draws particular inspiration from the writings of the poet and artist Etel Adnan, with whom many artists on display share a very strong connection. Named after an artwork by Carol Rama displayed in the exhibition, ‘Luogo e Segni’ presents over 100 works by 36 artists, among whom 17 are presented for the first time in a Pinault Collection exhibition in Venice including, among others; Berenice Abbot, Liz Deschenes, Trisha Donnelly and R. H. Quaytman. Among those, 3 have taken part in the artist residency programme promoted by the Pinault Collection in Lens: Lucas Arruda, Hicham Berrada and Edith Dekyndt.

Extremely connected with the city of Venice and Punta della Dogana, this exhibition is conceived by Mouna Mekouar (independent curator) and Martin Bethenod (Director of Palazzo Grassi/ Punta della Dogana) as an homage to the history of this place, from its opening as an exhibition space of the Pinault Collection, ten years ago, in 2009. Different type of memories  generate an intensive dialogue between artworks by Etel Adnan, Simone Fattal, Robert Wilson, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Roni Horn, Sturtevant, Tatiana Trouvé, Rudolf Stingel, Nina Canell. Meanwhile, another theme, closely related to the former, is that of the special affinity that binds the artists, in particular a connection of mutual esteem and inspiration or a more intimate bond, friendship or love. Roni Horn and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Simone Fattal and Etel Adnan, Liz Deschenes and Berenice Abbott, Tacita Dean and Julie Mehretu, Philippe Parreno and Etel Adnan but also works resulting from the collaboration between Anri Sala and Ari Benjamin Meyers, or Charbel-joseph H. Boutros and Stéphanie Saadé... All these ‘conversations’ map the implicit geography of a cohesive way of thinking between individualities coming from different horizons but all inhabited by poetry.


Roni Horn, White Dickinson, I GIVE YOU A PEAR THAT WAS GIVEN ME – WOULD THAT ITWERE A PAIR, BUT NATURE IS PENURIOUS, 2006-2007, Roni Horn, White Dickinson ABLOSSOM PERHAPS IS AN INTRODUCTION, TO WHOM – NONE CAN INFER -, 2006-2007, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Installation View ‘Luogo e Segni’ at Punta della Dogana, 2019 © Palazzo Grassi, photography Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti.


Hicham Berrada, Mesk-Ellil, 2015-2019, courtesy the artist and kamel mennour. Installation View "Luogo e Segni’ at Punta della Dogana,
2019 © Palazzo Grassi, photography Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti.


Fondazione Prada | Jannis Kounellis

On one hand Pinault has unlined a great army of artists, while on the other one Prada has chosen to fight back with two colossuses: Germano Celant and Jannis Kounellis. Indeed, "Jannis Kounellis" is the major retrospective dedicated to the Greek artist following his death in 2017. Curated by Germano Celant in collaboration with Archivio Kounellis, this project brings together more than 60 works from 1959 to 2015, from both Italian and international art institutions and museums, including Tate Modern (London), Centre Pompidou - Musée national d’art moderne (Paris), Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum (Rotterdam), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (Turin), as well as from important private collections both in Italy and abroad. 

Organic elements, smoke, metaphors about the various period of his life. The show explores the artistic and exhibition history of Jannis Kounellis (Piraeus 1936 – Rome 2017), highlighting key moments in the evolution of his visual poetics and establishing a dialogue between his works and the eighteenth-century spaces of Ca’ Corner della Regina. The first floor of the Venetian Palazzo present early works, originally exhibited between 1960 and 1966, linked with urban language and the city of Rome. Typical symbols of this period are black letters, writings and signs from the streets of Rome, numbers, or subjects taken from nature as the famous roses. 

Then, the exhibition aim to moved to the more conceptual investigation of the artist. Around 70s Kounellis start to use natural elements including soil, cacti, wool, coal, cotton, and fire. The use of organic and inorganic entities transformed his practice into corporeal experience, conceived as a sensorial transmission and investigation. In particular, the artist explored the sound dimension through which a painting is translated into sheet music to play or dance to. The same happened with an olfactory investigation, which began in 1969 with coffee, and continued through the 1980s with elements like grappa, in order to escape the illusory limits of the painting, embrace the world of the senses and join with the virtual chaos of reality. But 1967 is the artist's turning point and Germano Celant know very well. This year coincides with the kounellis' inclusion in a collective exhibition curated by Germano Celant and titled "Arte Povera".

Oscillating between a classical and a radical practice, the artist created fundamental works that led to an energetic and cultural exchange with the viewer. He created an increasingly intense and fluid art that enveloped components at once natural and historical, corporeal and symbolic, emphasizing their mythical valence. And if fire, gold, doors, coats and glasse are the main features of the eighties and nineties artworks, a ossessive research about Greek tradition, historical identity and intolerance for his political present are the muses of an entire life.


Jannis Kounellis, Untitled 1960. Private Collection, Como. Photo Pietro Scapin


Jannis Kounellis, Untitled 1975 – 1986. Exhibition view Jannis Kounellis: A Retrospective in Five Locations,
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 17 October 1986 – 4 January 1987 (West Ontario venue) 


Cover images: Jannis Kounellis, Galleria Lucio Amelio, Napoli 1973. Foto Claudio Abate


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