The Ultimate Venice Biennale Collateral Events 2024 – Lee Sharrock

Venice Biennale

Adriano Pedrosa, Curator of the 60th Venice Biennale, chose the controversial phrase Stranieri Ovunque (Foreigners Everywhere) as the theme for the central exhibitions of the Giardini and Arsenale, with a focus on marginalised, indigenous, migrant and Queer artists in his curation. Pedrosa took the Biennale’s title from a series of works by Palermo-based collective Claire Fontaine, consisting of neon sculptures of the slogan Foreigners Everywhere made in more than 50 languages, including indigenous languages.

In addition to the 88 official National Pavilions of the Biennale Arte, there are 30 official collateral events dotted around la Serenissima, which are curated independently of the overriding Biennale Arte. These include museum shows and presentations by commercial galleries or private collections.

Lee Sharrock picks some highlights, including ‘M.F. Husain: The Rooted Nomad’ at the Magazzini del Sale, GLASSTRESS 8 ½ at Fondazione Berengo; I’m not afraid of Ghosts, TCollection and at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi; Chanakya School Cosmic Garden at Salone Verde; Osman Yousefzada Welcome! A Palazzo for Immigrants and Breasts at ACP Palazzo Franchetti; Robert Indiana: The Sweet Mystery at Procuratie Vecchie, Willem de Kooning and Italy at the Gallerie dell’Accademia; and In Praise of Black Errantry at Palazzo Pisani S. Marina.

MF Husain: The Rooted Nomad at the Magazzini del Sale Indian painter M.F. Husain, by Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA). 1990 painting Karbala. Venice Biennale. Venice, Italy. Photograph by David Levene 18/4/24

MF Husain: The Rooted Nomad, presented by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, celebrates the iconic contemporary Indian artist whose itinerant spirit embraced all nuances of life. M.F. Husain (1915– 2011) was a peripatetic spirit who channelled his many experiences and journeys into an artistic practice investigating questions of mobility, migration, crossing borders and beyond fixed boundaries. The Rooted Nomad exhibition in Venice resonates with the Stranieri Uvunque theme of the 60th Biennale Arte, for Husain’s art was centred around notions on the ‘yatra’ or journey both as a crux to civilisational ethos and artistic calling as well as a metaphor for transformation.

Husain first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1954. He was one of the first artists from India to present his works in Venice, followed by his representation of India at the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1971 alongside Pablo Picasso. Husain articulated his syncretic vision of India as a richly layered cultural mosaic, both secular and sacred, unfolding in his kaleidoscopic imagery. The dual-format exhibition features seminal M.F. Husain paintings and an epic immersive video installation designed by Visioni Srl, Rome, inspired by more than 160 Husain works from the KNMA collection. Highlights include Yatra (1955), The Pull (1952), Blue Ganges (c.1966), and Husain’s masterpiece Karbala (1990), which is on public display for the first time in The Rooted Nomad.

Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator of KNMA, has curated an exhibition that succeeds in building a narrative through Husain’s paintings, photographs, prints, texts, and poems, culminating in a visionary immersive experience. The captivating video installation is multi-layered and truly immersive, including motion graphics, live action, sound design, and 2D and 3D animation, and took 2 years to create.

The Rooted Nomad: MF Husain is at Magazzini Del Sale n.5, Fondamenta Zattere Ai Saloni, 262 until 24th November, 2024.

GLASSTRESS 8 ½ at Fondazione Berengo, Murano

The 8th edition of the biannual Fondazione Berengo GLASSTRESS exhibition on the enchanting island of Murano is curated by Umberto Croppi. GLASSTRESS 8 ½ features glass artworks created by contemporary artists and designers in collaboration with the glass masters of Berengo Studio. 8 ½ is named for the cinematic masterpiece directed by iconic Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. This film focuses on the magic of artistic creation and is also a nod to the exhibition’s 8th edition. More than 30 contemporary artists are exhibiting, many working with glass as a material for the first time, including Ai Weiwei, Chila Kumari Burman, Laure Prouvost, Ryan Gander, Tony Cragg, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg.

GLASSTRESS 8 ½ is situated in a historic furnace on the island of Murano, which was transformed into an exhibition space in 2009. A parallel special project can be found at the Tesa 99 in the Arsenale Nord.

Chila Kumari Burman is exhibiting an exquisite, complex glass chandelier, her first foray into creating art with glass, and explains: “I think I’ve fallen into something by accident, and I think accidents are perfect; it almost feels like I’m entering a new world, it feels like an adventure into a new medium.”

GLASSTRESS 8 1/2 is presented by Fondazione Berengo and Berengo Studio at

Tesa 99, Arsenale and Fondazione Berengo, Murano until 24th November, 2024.

I’m not afraid of Ghosts, TCollection and at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi.

I’m not Afraid of Ghosts, a group show at the historic Palazzo Tiepolo curated by Svetlana Marich, founder of, and Sarah McCrory, inaugural Director of Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), is the first public presentation of work from the collection, the private collection of entrepreneur and art collector Tatiana Fileva. The intriguing and magical presentation includes paintings, sound installation, photography and sculpture by contemporary artists addressing these relating to the body, liberation, and reflections on past experiences, combined with the desire to confront ghosts of history and move forward on a new path.

A line-up of predominantly female artists includes Marlene Dumas, Tracey Emin, Jenny Holzer, Issy Wood, Shadi Al-Atallah, Cecily Brown, Heidi Bucher, Anne Collier, Marlene Dumas, William Eggleston, Jadé Fadojutimi, Sanya Kantarovsky, Simone Leigh, Sarah Lucas, Sally Mann and Christina Quarles. Highlights include Jenny Holzer’s engraved marble bench with the words “In a dream you saw a way to survive, and you were full of joy”, which sets the tone for the exhibition, surreal paintings by Ewa Juszkiewicz and Dominique Fung, and an evocative Cecily Brown painting. A haunting soundscape produced by Oliver Leith and titled Old House lends a delicately immersive feeling to the exhibition, uniting the various art forms with the historic location with a sonic dimension.

Tatiana Fileva, Founder of T Collection: “I am excited to see our vision come to life through the collaboration with in presenting I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts,” said Tatiana Fileva, founder of TCollection. “This exhibition draws together several narratives and allows us a moment to respect our past yet draw courage to make our own choices and look to the new. Women take centre stage in this exhibition and occupy multiple roles: mother, caregiver, friend, ally, confidant, and adversary. I hope this exhibition sparks meaningful dialogue and inspires individuals to embrace their journey of self-discovery and creative expression.”

I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts is at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, The Grand Canal S. Polo, 2774, 30125 Venezia until 22nd September 2024.

Chanakya School “Cosmic Garden” at Salone Verde.

Mumbai-based Chanakya School of Craft have teamed up with Dior to present Cosmic Garden, a magical exhibition of paintings, intricately embroidered canvases and sculptures created by Indian master artists Madhvi Parekh and Manu Parekh at the Salone Verde. Under the mentorship of Chanakya School Artistic Director Karishma Swali, who worked with 320 artisans trained in ancient embroidery techniques at the school in Mumbai, the artists created sumptuous large-scale textile installations.

Karishma Swali set up the Chanakya School of Craft as a non-profit institute committed to emancipating women through craft. Cosmic Garden is Chanakya School’s inaugural Venice Biennale exhibition. The artworks are a veritable feast for the senses and pay homage to the pluralistic beauty of India’s artisanal legacies and indigenous art traditions. Beautifully curated by Paola Ugolini and Maria Alicata, Cosmic Garden’s multidisciplinary and democratic approach is aimed at dismantling entrenched ideological hierarchies within the art world by spotlighting Madhvi Parekh and Manu Parekh’s collaboration with the Chanakya School via a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional techniques that succeeds in transcending conventional boundaries to carve out a fresh artistic vernacular that pays homage to its historical and cultural roots.

Raja Ghanta, Chanakya Foundation Vice President of Growth, says, “The Cosmic Garden showcases craft in its various forms across six decades. Our earliest work here was in 1975, but we also have works created as recently as last year. The space itself is divided into two rooms, and it’s the ruins of an old Palazzo. We were drawn to the rawness of the space and wanted to juxtapose the new with the old because our foundation is so much about preserving cultural identities. In the first room is a vast artwork by Madvhi Parekh featuring Devi, the Indian Goddess of the Divine Feminine. To capture the depth of the works, around 16 layers of embroidery and around 32 needlepoint techniques were used.”

Cosmic Garden is at the Salone Verde Art & Social Club in Venice until 24th November 2024.

Osman Yousefzada Welcome! A Palazzo for Immigrants at Palazzo Franchetti.

Osman Yousefzada, Welcome! A Palazzo for Immigrants, curated by Nadja Romain and Amin Jaffer, is presented by Fondazione Berengo in partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum at Palazzo Franchetti.

Yousefzada’s site-specific solo exhibition continues a work that explores themes of unity, movement and migration in modern society. The artist responds to the 60th Biennale Arte’s theme of Stranieri Uvunque with a moving mediation on modernity and migration. Welcome! A Palazzo for Immigrants is influenced by Yousefzada’s personal experiences of exclusion and displacement and notions of gender, rituals and spirituality. Ultimately, the Palazzo for Immigrants appeals to a more inclusive future where humanity can overcome geographical and psychological boundaries.

A central installation of textile fibre sculptures combined with handblown Murano glass features two large-scale plaits descending from the Palazzo ceiling into claw-like roots stretching across its marble floor. In contrast, a table rich with an abundance of handblown glass objects each tells its own intricate stories, querying the domestic as symbolic talismans and tokens to create a vital dialogue between the artist’s heritage and the artisanal traditions of the Venetian lagoon.

Osman Yousefzada: “My work is about immigration anyway, so it naturally fits into the Biennale’s theme of ‘Stranieri Uvunque’. The plait is something quite important for me in a way. The idea of the open hair is the idea of the Venus Rising, the Wanton Woman, and this kind of tale revolves around the fact that if you have your hair open in certain cultures, the demons will come and possess you. In some cultures that I know of, the braided or plaited hair is the woman being controlled, so it’s the idea of gender roles. But here, they start having claws and become beings. So it’s querying the domestic gender spaces and the conventional roles.”

Osman Yousefzada, Welcome! A Palazzo for Immigrants is at Palazzo Franchetti until 7th October 2024.

Robert Indiana: The Sweet Mystery at Procuratie Vecchie, Piazza San Marco.

Presented by Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Curated by Matthew Lyons, Exhibition Sheds New Light on One of the World’s Most Iconic Artists

Robert Indiana: The Sweet Mystery, curated by Matthew Lyons and presented by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is situated in the Procuratie Vecchie, recently restored by Pritzker Prize-winning architect David Chipperfield.

The Sweet Mystery was developed with The Robert Indiana Legacy Initiative and is one of the most significant presentations of Indiana’s work in Italy to date. The exhibition takes over nine galleries and brings together more than 30 works spanning six decades of his career. Paintings and sculptures highlight Indiana’s exploration of the human condition and faith in turbulent times, including the titular painting, The Sweet Mystery (1960-62), one of the earliest works by Indiana using his career-defining practice of incorporating words.

Robert Indiana: The Sweet Mystery is at Procuratie Vecchie, Piazza San Marco, until 24th November 2024.

Willem de Kooning and Italy at the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia Photo © Artlyst 2024

Willem de Kooning was one of the most revolutionary and influential artists of the 20th century. A major exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia features works produced during his time in Italy in 1959 and 1969 or influenced by Italian masters such as Tintoretto and Titian. De Kooning’s visits to Italy greatly influenced his artistic practice, and Willem de Kooning and Italy brings together 75 paintings and sculptures from the 1950s to the 1980s, equating to the largest exhibition of de Kooning’s work to date in Italy.

Curated by Gary Garrels and Mario Codognato. The artworks are displayed in the Grande Sala of the Accademia against a backdrop of one of the most celebrated Italian Renaissance paintings – Paolo Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi (1573).

De Kooning was featured in the Venice Biennale in a US Pavilion group show in 1950, where he exhibited ‘Excavation’. The Accademia retrospective looks at the influence of Italy on de Kooning’s art, dating back to his first visit in 1959 and a subsequent trip a decade later when he became interested in the expressive possibilities of sculpture after visiting a foundry in Rome.

Willem de Kooning and Italy is at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Calle della Carità, 1050, 30123 Venice until 15th September 2024.

Breasts at ACP Palazzo Franchetti.

A group exhibition celebrating the symbolism and iconography of Breasts, curated by Carolina Pasti at the ACP Palazzo Franchetti, features more than 30 works by emerging and established artists spanning painting, photography, sculpture, and film from 1500 to the present day.

Works in the exhibition explore how breasts have been understood and represented in art across cultures and traditions. Reflecting on a range of themes from motherhood, empowerment, sexuality, body image and illness, the presentation investigates how breasts act as a catalyst to discuss socio-political realities, challenge historical traditions and express personal and collective identities.

An installation by Buchanan Studio leads to galleries with five separate themed rooms that examine the historical representation of breasts and the construction of narratives related to the female body. The starting point for the exhibition is an early 16th-century Madonna and Child by Bernardino del Signoraccio, ‘Madonna dell’ Umiltà’ (1460-1540), which takes visitors on a journey from depictions breastfeeding by Old Masters of the Renaissance and the iconography of the Madonna del Latte (Madonna Breastfeeding the Child), which influenced artists including Cindy Sherman, whose ‘Untitled 205’ (1989) is on display in the same room as the del Signoraccio, through to visualisations by contemporary artists of breasts viewed in the context of motherhood or sexuality.

Carolina Pasti’s intelligent curation looks at the depiction of breasts through the male and female gaze, taking in surrealism (Dali, Duchamp and Di Chirico), Pop Art (Allen Jones’s stylised sculpture of a dominatrix woman), sexually charged photography of the female form by Robert Mapplethorpe, Hsu Che-yu and Irving Penn, and re-examines Oliviero Toscani’s 1989 image Donna con Bambino, which shows a black woman breastfeeding a white baby and was highly controversial at the time. The female gaze is represented by Chloe Wise, Sarah Lucas, Louise Bourgeois, Aurora Pellizzi, Prune Nourry and Charlotte Colbert, whose depictions of breasts and the female form reference motherhood, breastfeeding and breast cancer.

A surreal room features Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Prière de toucher’ (Please Touch), a foam-rubber sculpture of a breast fixed to the cover of the book ‘Le Surréalisme en 1947’, and Salvador Dalí’s ‘Nude with Snail Breasts’ which offers an insight into Dali’s fetishisation of his muses.

Breast cancer survivor Prune Nourry is exhibiting a sculpture of a breast made of Venetian glass and bronze. In contrast, Charlotte Colbert’s sculpture Mastectomy Mameria (2019) includes a breast scarred by a breast cancer operation. Laure Prouvost’s 2022 film Four For See Beauties depicts three women and the artist’s newborn child alongside sea creatures, recalling the stages of human life transformation.

Curator Carolina Pasti explains: “My inspiration for the show was Italian artist Laura Fanna. She’s in the show with four artworks. I was always intrigued by the female body and how she depicted breasts. The show is about the history of breasts from the 15th century, Madonna’s breastfeeding, in dialogue with more contemporary artists such as Cindy Sherman and Anna Weyant. I intended to start in the 15th Century and then focus on post-war and contemporary works.”

Carolina Pasti was motivated to stage the exhibition not only as an artistic exploration of breasts but also as a way of promoting breast cancer awareness. She has orchestrated a partnership with the United Nations and medical research non-profit Fondazione IEO-MONZINO, which will receive a portion of its catalogue sales.

Breasts are at the ACP Palazzo Franchetti, S. Marco, 2847, 3014 Venezia until 24th November, 2024.

Venice Biennale
Winston Branch In Praise of Black Erranty Photo © Lee Sharrock


In Praise of Black Errantry, Unit at Palazzo Pisani S. Marina Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, In Praise of Black Errantry, Unit, Palazzo Pisani S. Marina, Venice (17 April–29 June 2024). Courtesy Unit.

‘In Praise of Black Errantry’ features 19 modern and contemporary artists, including Rachel Jones, Winston Branch, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Claudette Johnson, Stacey Gillian Abe, Hank Willis Thomas, Keith Piper, Anya Paintsil and more. The exhibition, curated by Indie A. Choudhury (The Courtauld Institute of Art) with assistant curator Kelsey Corbett (Unit), celebrates the Black radical imagination by bringing together works by 19 modern and contemporary Afro-diasporic artists.

Located in a 15th-century palazzo in Cannaregio, depicted in a Renaissance painting by Jacopo de’ Barbari, the title was inspired by Martinique-born French writer and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928–2011), who proposed errantry as a form of freedom and resistance or a purposeful wandering beyond national borders or the limits of exile.

In Praise of Black Errantry is at Palazzo Pisani S. Marina in Cannaregio until 29th June 2024.


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