Venice Biennale 2018

Rina Flatau, Emerson Museum of Art, Syracuse NY (October 2018)

I first heard about the Venice Biennale several years ago from a fellow docent, but my first attendance was at the 2017 Biennale. It hooked me! From the website I learned that the event is an international art exhibition begun in 1895 which runs every other year. On off years the Venice Biennale site hosts Music, Dance, Cinema and Architecture. The neighborhoods of the Giardani and the Arsenale on an adjacent island provide the venues. The Giardani park is home to 29 permanent country pavilions built to house their contributions, and at the Arsenale a massive central pavillion is the setting for several other countries’ exhibitions. Also, some countries, without a pavilion, chose to exhibit in unique settings throughout Venice.

This year on my return I set aside only 2 days to visit the multiple venues, but I think 3 days would have been better. The total experience was overwhelming but also spectacular! I did not always love the art, but the variety and ingenuity provided a wow factor and ensured an entertaining time. Venice is Venice; the history, the art, the music, the water, the racing vaporetto and the sunsets are truly unique. What I loved more than the main exhibitions, was the chance findings of smaller exhibits and installations peppered throughout the island, perhaps through the open door to a villa or in a deserted chapel.


There were also several outdoor sculptures to investigate.


If you plan to go, and I hope you do, here are some tips:
- In the opening days of the Venice Biennale the venues are chaotic, filled with throngs of art lovers, the artists and the paparazzi.
- You can buy tickets online or at the gate.
- The show runs from May to November. May, June and September are lovely. Summer is brutally hot, October and November wetter and subdued.
- Book a ticket way in advance if you want to attend Tavola Aperta, an al fresco lunch with a featured artist. Lovely and intimate.
- Go in early September and catch Venice Glass Week. A week filled with exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and parties!
- Venice is walkable, but you may want to stay close to the Giardani park site in the Castello neighborhood. (Castello covers a large vibrant area, with one section bordering St. Mark’s Square and dotted with luxury hotels. Farther from St. Mark's, the neighborhood gets more laid back.)
- Save money on accommodations by using Airbnb or staying at a monastery or convent for $40 - $70 US per night.
- A super quick train ride delivers you to the city of Padua and Giotto's frescoes in the Arena Chapel. Reserve in advance!
- Book an art tour with: (We enjoyed the Titian and Tintoretto tour.)
- Book a private tour of a glassblowing furnace on the island of Murano and explore the outlying islands as well.

The Venice Biennale is on from May to the end of November and the next is the Biennale Arte in 2019.