Venice Biennale 2024: the must-see pavilions in the Arsenale
April 16, 2024
India at Venice: no pavilion but more presence than ever before
April 16, 2024
Venice Biennale 2024: the must-see pavilions in the Arsenale
April 16, 2024
India at Venice: no pavilion but more presence than ever before
April 16, 2024

An influx of crowded trains, planes, and vaporettos sped towards Venice this week as the international art world descended on the city for the 60th Venice Biennale previews.

Soon after arriving at Marco Polo airport on Monday, my boat coursed through the turquoise choppy water and I shamelessly snapped the obligatory Venice harbour shot. We docked up to The Venice Venice Hotel, where I checked in (courtesy of my hosts at Chanel, thank you!), and headed over to a welcome evening held in the palazzo of London-born cookery writer Skye McAlpine, co-hosted by Nathan Clements-Gillespie and Kristina McLean of Frieze. With Pimms and strawberries set out on antique tables, I filled my chilled, candy-colored glass and proceed to stepped out onto the terrace, where I whiled away an hour chatting with the hosts and admiring the Wisteria vines.

Skye McAlpine‘s wonderful wisteria

Next, I stopped at a Chanel Next Prize artist welcome party, and then headed to see the head of events at Chanel, Emily Hailie, for dinner. Seated at a table at the edge of the dock, waves lapped upon the wooden planks beneath my feet, reigniting my love for the city.

Tuesday morning arrived in a blink. I grabbed a quick breakfast on the hotel terrace and spotted some familiar art world faces wandering through: the newly appointed director of the British Museum, Nicholas Cullinan, filmmaker Fox Maxy and Serpentine artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist. I joined The Art Newspaper team for an editorial meeting at their pop-up.

Later, I met up with gallerist Oliver Miro and he walked me through Sarah Sze, presented in Victoria Miro’s San Marco gallery. We strolled through the historic Venetian apartment, admiring the moving-image installation and Sze’s new paintings. They’re brought straight from the gallery and in a way it feels like the studio itself has travelled: the show complete with wallpaper mimicking the artist’s splatter marks. In a moment of very Venetian-feeling comic timing, we completed our tour of the exhibition as an opera singer’s aria echoes from outside the window.

I stopped into the Pinault Collection’s two locations, first taking a spin through the retrospective-style show of Julie Mehretu Ensemble at the Palazzo Grassi, then Pierre Huyghe Liminal at the Punta della Dogana. Entering Huyghe’s show I was engulfed in complete darkness, which made my heart race.

A glimpse of Julie Mehretu’s Pinault Collection show

Outside I was caught in a hurricane-like downpour without an umbrella and made my first, might I add relatively successful, attempt at public transport. I dropped off my laptop at the hotel, and then attended Marian Goodman’scelebration of the Pinault Collection exhibitionsat the Aman Hotel in Palazzo Papadopoli. I entered through an imposing iron gate and winding gardens, and was led into a Rococo-style room where I saw Julie Mehretu circulating. The day’s apocalyptic weather emerged as a recurring theme of conversation throughout the night. I ran into an old friend from New York, gallerist and collector Lily Snyder and then caught the lift to exit next to Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons.

I felt proud of my navigatrix skills as I promptly arrive at a dinner hosted by Thaddaeus Ropac in Palazzo Nani Bernardo, honouring Alex Katz’s exhibition Claire, Grass and Water at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. I was seated at an opulent Versaille-esque table with dripping candelabras and had a lively conversation with collectors from Basel, Venice, and Milan.

ThaddeusRopac served up some Alex Katz delights at its dinner

Venice’s labyrinth inspired a distinct level of camaraderie, and before I knew it was in Gavin Brown’s boat heading east down the canal towards Chanel’s soiree at Palazzo Malipiero. I arrived at a spirited door overflowing with beautiful party-goers (it appears this was the hot ticket last night).

The walls of the majestic palazzo are covered with cascading baby’s breath flowers, and as I strolled into the central room I was met with cocktails in stripped handmade Murano glasses and throwback music. I ran into my favourite art-collecting duo Raimund Berthold and Paul Ettlinger, Yana Peel global head of arts & culture at Chanel, and Sotheby’s senior director of private sales Ottilie Windsor, among many others. Wiped out, I jumped on a vaporetto home and I called it a night!

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