VENICE — Despite the sudden drop in temperatures and heavy rain, Venice was bustling with tourists and visitors to the inaugural events of the Art Biennale, which this year seemed to draw even more fashion brands to support it, from Dior becoming a donor and Valentino sponsoring the Italian pavilion to “Human Brains” bowing at Fondazione Prada’s Ca’ Corner della Regina and Pomellato sponsoring the Venice pavilion.
Bottega Veneta signed up as a supporting partner for “Dancing Studies,” a series of live dance performances built around the Pinault Collection’s exhibition “Bruce Nauman: Contraposto Studies” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.
On Thursday evening, Lenio Kaklea staged the “Sonatas and Interludes” performance for a small group of guests, including Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich.
“Venice is by essence international, as well as a place for multidisciplinary forms of art and design,” said the brand’s chief executive officer Bartolomeo “Leo” Rongone. “The roots of Bottega Veneta belong to this same history and it has the same perspective. We have a commitment to Venice and what it stands for. By embracing this multidisciplinary approach to live events, exhibitions and special launches, Bottega Veneta cements its place as part of the wider cultural history of Italy that has become known throughout the world.”
Creative director Matthieu Blazy designed some of the costumes for the Paris-based Greek dancer and choreographer and all costumes for the performances of Pam Tanowitz.
“Essentially, we are exploring movement and the body in motion. Working with Lenio, somebody who uses movement so radically and beautifully, it’s where clothing and a radical sense of self-expression collide,” said Blazy.
Kaklea said she had never worked with a fashion house before and that being “a stranger” to this world was reflected in this “displacement, discovery and experimentation rather than display or narration [in the performance].” However, “common experiences” allowed the two “to talk the same language from the beginning.”
That same evening, Louis Vuitton staged a cocktail and dinner at the stunning Ca’ d’Oro palazzo in the late Gothic style overlooking the Grand Canal, where the French group plans to renovate the Giorgio Franchetti Gallery with the Venetian Heritage Foundation. The Ca’ d’Oro now houses a museum and Baron Franchetti’s art collection, to which, over the years, the Italian state has added paintings and numerous sculptures from churches destroyed during the French and Austrian occupation.
Since 2013, the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, part of the Beyond the Walls program run by the Fondation Louis Vuitton, has been the location of a series of exhibitions promoting international contemporary art and this year it is hosting “Apollo, Apollo,” by Katharina Grosse as a collateral event of the Biennale.
Diesel paired with the Tom of Finland Foundation and Paris-based art collective The Community to present two concurrent exhibitions, “AllTogether,” in Venice and Paris, bringing together a selection of the world’s most extensive collection of LGBTQ art for the first time outside of Los Angeles.
“Tom opened doors to so many people: He was the first internationally known erotic gay artist, and created a platform that helped me understand myself in my process of acceptance as there was no gay community growing up in Bruges,” said Diesel creative director Glenn Martens. “He contributed to this sense of living life in full happiness, which is reflected in these works, as artists know they no longer have to hide, but let’s not forget that our community does not live in peace everywhere. There is still persecution in many places. The Biennale is one of the best platforms and will help to raise awareness.”
The designer also gave a shout-out to Diesel, which has long spoken up about social issues and the environment: “one of the reasons I accepted this job,” said Martens. “We have a responsibility as a global brand to give back, people are watching and we work to speed up this process of acceptance.”
Diesel will also launch a dedicated capsule collection on May 8, Tom of Finland’s birthday.
The foundation’s president and cofounder Durk Dehner touted the “amazing exposure” of the Biennale and Diesel’s capsule, “another exciting avenue” to promote the imagery of the artists. “Tom’s legacy lives on and continues to inspire to stay true to yourself and not be inhibited. He represents freedom for all of us. Many erotic artists of the time — some working anonymously throughout their career — were concerned that their work would be forgotten or destroyed after their deaths. Thus, they donated their life’s work to the foundation, knowing it would be carefully archived and their stories preserved.”
The exhibition at The Community Centre in Paris will bow on May 8 and the two shows, which both run until June 26, comprise more than 200 works of art from the 1940s to the present day.
Street art also entered the Biennale, with the pavilion of the Republic of San Marino displaying a work by British artist Endless, organized by FR Institute of Contemporary Art, in collaboration with the Cris Contini Contemporary gallery, called “The Endless Transfiguration.”
Endless is the first and only street artist who has entered the Gallerie degli Uffizi with a permanent work. Ever more timely, this work investigates how man develops technologies to modify the environment and how nature reacts to them.
An imposing installation, 14 meters long — with a reconfigured human-like torso at its center with outstretched arms and open hands — is constructed from largely recycled materials in a collage, such as wooden panels and doors, metal panels and silver sheets, on which the artist has grafted digital graphics and paint layering, revealing details such as manipulated photographs and graphical imagery that refer to his street-art background.