Venice Biennale Returns After Three Years Off

What does it mean for the art world?

Venice Biennale
A woman walks near a display of the Biennale art 2022 on April 08, 2022 in Venice, Italy.
Stefano Mazzola/Getty Images

The last time the Venice Biennale was held was in 2019, with the title May You Live In Interesting Times. What might have seemed like an ambiguous statement then now reads like unintentional prophecy — and might well leave you wondering if the Biennale’s organizers have any stock tips they’d like to share for the coming months.

On April 23, the 59th installment of the Venice Biennale will commence, with the much less ominous title The Milk of Dreams. But what does it mean for the art world — and for Venice itself — to have such a high-profile event return?

A new article at Sotheby’s Magazine by Camilla Purdon covers a few perspectives on what’s at stake here. A comment made by Karole Vail of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is representative of the general mood. “There’s no doubt that having the Biennale back is exciting for us, and for the city, as it means the art world will, we presume, be coming in droves,” Vail said.

In this case, that sense of excitement is for both art-world professionals and residents of Venice who are eagerly awaiting the economic boost of an influx of visitors. It’s not unlike a number of other high-profile events returning after a pandemic-imposed hiatus — though given the Biennale’s role in connecting artists and inspiring new work, things feel especially heightened here.

That said, that this is the first Biennale since the pandemic began is historic in and of itself, but it’s not the only thing that’s historic about it. As pointed out in Purdon’s article and elsewhere, there’s a lot that sounds intriguing about this year’s edition — whether art is your livelihood or simply something you appreciate.


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