20 Must-See Venice Shows to Visit during the Biennale

Casey Lesser
Apr 14, 2022 11:34PM

Installation view, Marlene Dumas, “open-end” at Palazzo Grassi, 2022.. From left to right: Marlene Dumas, iPhone, 2018, courtesy David Zwirner; Alien, 2017, Pinault Collection; Spring, 2017, private collection, courtesy David Zwirner; Amazon, 2016, private collection, Switzerland. Photo by Marco Cappelletti con Filippo Rossi. © Palazzo Grassi © Marlene Dumas

As each edition of the Venice Biennale descends upon the city, so, too, do a plethora of exhibitions beyond the remit of the Giardini, the Arsenale, and national pavilions. Across Venice, these shows take root in churches, palazzi, and the city’s world-class art institutions, resulting in an onslaught of must-see art that spans both the past and the present. Here, we offer a glimpse into 20 of these shows.

Louise Nevelson, “Persistence”

Procuratie Vecchie, Piazza San Marco, 118 b

April 23–September 11

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Louise Nevelson, Untitled (Sky Cathedral), 1970-1975. © 2022 Estate of Louise Nevelson / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


Sixty years since she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale, Louise Nevelson is breaking new ground in the city, as her works occupy one of its most famous sites: the Procuratie Vecchie in Piazza San Marco. The 16th-century building, with its famed Neoclassical arcades, recently opened to the public for the first time ever, following a redevelopment overseen by David Chipperfield Architects Milan. Presented by the Louise Nevelson Foundation and curated by Julia Bryan-Wilson, “Persistence” will fill nine rooms on the second floor with 60 works from the 1950s through the ’80s, including her signature painted sculptures and little-known collage works.

Stanley Whitney, “The Italian Paintings”

Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, San Polo 2774

April 23–November 27

Stanley Whitney, Untitled, 1993. © Stanley Whitney. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

This fresh survey of Stanley Whitney’s work is fittingly focused on the paintings and drawings the beloved artist has made in Italy over the past three decades. Presented by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum and curated by Cathleen Chaffee and Vincenzo de Bellis, the show features an array of paintings and sketchbooks. It marks the first time that these Italian creations are being shown together and in the country in which they were realized.

Marlene Dumas, “open-end”

Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele, 3231

March 27, 2022–January 8, 2023

Wednesday–Monday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Installation view, Marlene Dumas, “open-end” at Palazzo Grassi, 2022. Marlene Dumas, Betrayal, 1994, Private collection. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York. Photo by Marco Cappelletti con Filippo Rossi. © Palazzo Grassi © Marlene Dumas

The Pinault Collection’s latest spotlight on a major contemporary artist shines on Marlene Dumas, the critically acclaimed South African painter known for moving portraits that convey searing emotion. The stunning palazzo is hung with over 100 of the artist’s works, including oil paintings and ink drawings created between 1984 and the present, in addition to recent pieces that have not yet been exhibited. Dumas’s works are meant to convey universal feelings, though the artist is known to glean her subjects from newspapers, films, magazines, and other found sources, forging connections to social issues and the present.

“Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity”

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Dorsoduro 701, I-30123

April 9–September 26

Wednesday–Monday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Leonora Carrington, The Pleasures of Dagobert, 1945. Private Collection © Leonora Carrington, by SIAE 2022.

Although Surrealism may seem ubiquitous at the present, this showcase of the movement’s development takes a fresh angle—homing in on the role of magic and the occult. While it features pioneering Surrealists like Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, René Magritte, and Remedios Varo, the show also takes a step back to spotlight striking, mystical works that predate Surrealism, like the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst. The show, a joint exhibition between the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Museum Barberini, brings together 60 works from over 40 international museums and private collections.

Kehinde Wiley, “An Archaeology of Silence”

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Sale del convitto, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, 30133

April 22–July 24

Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kehinde Wiley, An Archeology of Silence, 2022. ©Courtesy Templon, Paris–Brussels.

For this show, Kehinde Wiley revisited his 2008 series “DOWN”—a monumental body of work that pictured his everyday subjects as fallen heroes, saints, and warriors, and was inspired by icons of art history like Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. Now, Wiley builds upon the violence, grief, and ecstasy of those paintings in a new series that also quotes from art history, but now delves into stories of survival, resilience, and vulnerability. There is a particular focus on the deaths of young Black people due to police brutality that have been broadcast globally in recent years. “That is the archaeology I am unearthing,” Wiley stated in the show’s press release, “the specter of police violence and state control over the bodies of young Black and Brown people all over the world.”

Claire Tabouret, “I am spacious, singing flesh”

Palazzo Cavanis, Dorsoduro 920

April 23–November 27

Claire Tabouret, The Spell, 2018. © Claire Tabouret. Photo by Marten Elder. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech.

This show of the sought-after young painter Claire Tabouret, curated by Kathryn Weir and organized by the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, brings together 25 works by the artist, primarily created in the past decade. Offering a spiritual look at the artist’s output, the exhibition considers her ethereal portrayals of the human form while placing them in dialogue with devotional objects drawn from Italian archaeological and religious collections. And while Tabouret is most commonly associated with her paintings, the presentation also includes sculpture, video, and works on paper.

Anselm Kiefer, “Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo)”

Palazzo Ducale, Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124

March 26–October 29

Monday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Installation view, Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo), 2022. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo by Georges Poncet. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia.

Anselm Kiefer has created an all-consuming, site-specific installation within the Sala dello Scrutinio of the famed Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). The sprawling space was originally used to elect the doge and hung with paintings that promote the sovereign state of Venice. Within this context, Kiefer reflected on Venice’s history as a crossroad between North and South, East and West, as well as the work of Venetian philosopher Andrea Emo and Goethe’s Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy. The resulting paintings manage to feel both spectacularly at home and strikingly alive in the hallowed space.

Anish Kapoor

Gallerie dell’Accademia, Campo della Carità, 1050, 30123

April 20–October 9

Monday, 8:15 a.m.–2 p.m.; Tuesday–Sunday, 8:15 a.m.–7:15 p.m.

© Anish Kapoor. Photo © Attilio Maranzano.

Anish Kapoor’s boundary-breaking practice is on full view in Venice as he becomes the first British artist to have a major exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. The show will put key pieces from throughout the artist’s career in dialogue with the Accademia’s classical collection, while also debuting new works made with carbon nanotechnology—works that, according to the show’s curator Taco Dibbits, “promise to be a revelation.” The show extends to a second venue: the 18th-century Palazzo Manfrin, which is now owned by Kapoor and had an esteemed private picture gallery in the late 18th and 19th centuries—one that held works by Giorgione, Mantegna, and others that were later acquired by the Accademia.

Mary Weatherford, “The Flaying of Marsyas”

Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Castello Ramo Grimani, 4858

April 20–November 27

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Mary Weatherford, The Flaying of Marsyas—4500 Triphosphor, 2021–22. © Mary Weatherford. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio. Courtesy Gagosian.

The Los Angeles–based artist Mary Weatherford is known for her color-soaked canvases embellished with neon tubing. This new show foregrounds the artist’s longstanding admiration of Titian’s late Renaissance masterpiece The Flaying of Marsyas (1570–76). While working in her signature mode, Weatherford adopts Titian’s dark, mahogany palette and writhing composition, while using neon to draw attention to elements of the original work.

“This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom”

Scuola Grande della Misericordia, Cannaregio 3599/A

April 23–August 7 (Previews: April 20 and April 22, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Yevgenia Belorusets, from The war diary. February–April, 2022. Kyiv (2022). Courtesy of the Artist.

PinchukArtCentre’s biannual Future Generation Art Prize exhibition in Venice has become known for ambitious presentations by exciting new talents. This year, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Kyiv-based institution has swiftly—and remarkably—changed course. PinchukArtCentre and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation have partnered with the Office of the President of Ukraine and Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine to mount a Venice exhibition that speaks directly to the crisis in Ukraine, the resilience of its people, and the nation’s rich artistic traditions.

The two-chapter show focuses on historical and contemporary Ukrainian artists, as well as international artists who are showing support through new and existing works that convey anti-war sentiments. The exhibition promises new works by leading artists based in the country—Yevgenia Belorusets, Nikita Kadan, and Lesia Khomenko—and contributions from several blockbuster names, including Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, and Marina Abramović.

Lita Albuquerque, “Liquid Light”

Olivolo, San Pietro di Castello 65/A

April 23–November 27

Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Lita Albuquerque, Liquid Light (film still), 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

This show of the Los Angeles–based artist Lita Alberquerque marks the premiere of her new film Liquid Light (2022). Spanning celestial and terrestrial planes, Liquid Light draws on ancient mythologies and imagines an otherworldly future as it follows a female astronaut as she discovers Earth. Curated by Elizabeta Betinski and Neville Wakefield, the show furthers the Light and Space artist’s investigations into the universe.

Ugo Rondinone, “burn shine fly”

Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, San Polo 2454

April 20–September 17

Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Courtesy of the artist.

The Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone has mounted acclaimed installations in the Nevada desert, the Château de Versailles, and Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Now, Rondinone turns to Venice, taking over the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, one of the city’s oldest schools, founded in 1261. Rondinone’s unmistakably stark and colorful sculptures are sure to strikingly contrast with the centuries-old architecture and interiors, including frescoed rooms and works by Titian, Carpaccio, and Bellini. “The work aims to coax the sublime from the subliminal,” Rondinone said in the press release of the show. “The work should dazzle us and send us into a deep reflection about the marvels and mysteries of life.”

Dineo Seshee Bopape & Diana Policarpo, “The Soul Expanding Ocean”

Ocean Space, Campo San Lorenzo, 5069

April 9–October 2

Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Installation view, “The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape. Ocean! What if no change is your desperate mission?”, Ocean Space, Venice, 2022. Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy.

South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape and Portuguese artist Diana Policarpo take over Ocean Space with newly commissioned installations that dive into the colonial history and memory that the ocean surfaces. Both artists’ works were commissioned by TBA21–Academy and are part of the two-year exhibition program “The Soul Expanding Ocean,” curated by Chus Martínez. Bopape’s video work takes viewers on a mythical odyssey through bodies of water, informed by a trip to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and a residency at a marine conservation foundation in Jamaica. Policarpo’s multimedia installation examines colonialism through her research into the natural biodiversity of the Ilhas Selvagens (Savage Islands) in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Fondazione In Between Art Film: Penumbra”

Complesso dell’Ospedaletto, Barbaria de le Tole, 6691

April 20–November 27

Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Jonathas de Andrade, Olho da Rua (Out Loud), 2022. Courtesy of the artist, Galleria Continua, Galeria Nara Roesler, and Fondazione In Between Art Film.

In 2020, Beatrice Bulgari started the Fondazione In Between Art Film to support experimental work in film, video, performance, and installation. In Venice, the foundation is presenting its first-ever exhibition, featuring eight new works that it commissioned and produced by a range of international artists: Karimah Ashadu, Jonathas De Andrade, Aziz Hazara, He Xiangyu, Masbedo, James Richards, Emilija Škarnulytė, and Ana Vaz. These film, video, and sound pieces will be presented in a series of light and dark spaces within the frescoed halls of the Complesso dell’Ospedaletto church complex.

Ha Chong-hyun

Palazzetto Tito, Dorsoduro, 2826

April 23–August 24

Installation view, Ha Chong-Hyun | The 59th Venice Biennale Collateral Event at Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa—Palazzetto Tito (April 23—August 24, 2022). Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, and Tina Kim Gallery. Photo by Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano.

A leading member of the Dansaekhwa group—the Korean artists who introduced a new style of monochrome painting in the 1970s—Ha Chong-hyun is esteemed for his minimalist practice that celebrates the merging of methods and materials. The artist’s distinctive approach to painting is on full view in Venice in this retrospective that looks at six decades of creativity and innovation. Curated by Sunjung Kim, the show will feature the artist’s best-known series, “Conjunction,” made between the 1980s and 2000s, as well as the bodies of work that preceded and succeeded it.

Bice Lazzari, “Between Space and Dimension”

Ca’ Pesaro, Santa Croce, 2076

April 22–October 23

Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Bice Lazzari, Superfici e segni n. 1, 1973–1974 . Collezione privata. Courtesy of Ca' Pesaro.

Contemporary art lovers may flock to Ca’ Pesaro to see the dazzling, incredibly detailed paintings by Raqib Shaw, though the museum is also hosting a show of the 20th-century Italian artist Bice Lazzari, whose work has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years. Born in Venice in 1900, Lazzari went to art school at a time when women were sidelined from painting—it was considered inappropriate for them to attend life drawing classes. So she pursued decorative and applied arts and started painting on her own, experimenting with abstraction, minimalism, and materials like glue, sand, and tempera. This show is focused on her work from the 1960s and ’70s, featuring her elegant monochromes, marked by crisp, rhythmic lines.

Bosco Sodi, “What Goes Around Comes Around”

Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, San Polo, 2033

April 9–September 26

Wednesday–Monday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Bosco Sodi, Untitled, 2021. Photography by Sergio López. Courtesy of Studio Bosco Sodi.

During February and March, the Mexican artist Bosco Sodi took up residency in Venice and created several new pieces, as the ground floor of the 16th-century Palazzo Vendramin Grimani on the Grand Canal became his studio. Now, his solo show at the same site, curated by Daniela Ferretti and Dakin Hart, will offer an exemplary view into the artist’s practice. Sodi’s signature works will be on view, including weighty clay spheres and cubes, as well as explosive monochromatic paintings that prize raw materials, pigment, and texture.

Fiona Banner, “Pranayama Typhoon”

Patronato Salesiano Leone XIII, Calle S. Domenico, 1281, 30122

April 19–May 22

Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.

Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press, Pranayama Organ (still), 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

A few minutes’ walk from the Giardini, ​​Fiona Banner’s Venice show takes place in an unexpected setting: a basketball court within a converted church. There, she presents a new film, Pranayama Organ (2021), which was conceived during the pandemic and reflects on the global crises we’ve witnessed over the past two years. The film involves two life-size, inflatable fighter jets that fill with air on an otherworldly landscape, as well as the artist herself dressed as a combat plane, ultimately toying with the power dynamics that structure our lives.

Katharina Grosse, “Apollo, Apollo”

Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, Calle del Ridotto 1353

April 23–November 27

Monday–Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m.

Katharina Grosse, Apollo, Apollo, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton’s project space, located alongside the fashion house’s Piazza San Marco outpost, is known to recruit acclaimed artists to exhibit their work in its centrally located real estate during the Biennale. This year, Katharina Grosse is presenting a large, metallic mesh installation printed with a photograph of her hands. The glittering, reflective piece resonates with the artisanal traditions of Venice, as well as the artist’s proclivity for pushing the conceptual and physical bounds of painting.

“PLANET B, Climate Change and the New Sublime”

Palazzo Bollani, Castello 3647

April 20–November 27

Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Agnieszka Kurant, A.A.I (System's Negative) No. 7, 2016. © Photo Jean Vong. Courtesy of the artist.

Alex Cerveny, A Máquina do Mundo, 2022. © Photo Ding Musa. Courtesy of the artist.

What better setting than Venice—a city under threat by rising sea levels—for the esteemed curator Nicolas Bourriaud to present a show considering how climate change has influenced contemporary art? Featuring 27 artists from 17 countries, the exhibition is centered around the concept of the sublime—specifically, as the 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke put it, the “feeling of aesthetic pleasure tainted with fear, or the proximity with danger.”

The show is being staged in three parts, each one roughly two months long and with a new cohort of artists. The wide-ranging roster is particularly compelling, with emerging and established names such as Ambera Wellmann, Haegue Yang, Turiya Magadlela, Kendell Geers, Anna Bella Geiger, and Max Hooper Schneider, among others.

Casey Lesser
Casey Lesser is Artsy’s Director of Content.