The 24th Biennale exhibition in 1948 was particularly significant due to its reconsideration of the avant-garde, also made possible thanks to the commitment of the foreign pavilions. The General Secretary Rodolfo Pallucchini, capable of interpreting these demands, organised the first five Biennale editions after the war (from 1948 to 1956). This long time span allowed him to present quite a comprehensive view of European avant-guardism (from which Dadaism still remained excluded). He thus succeeded in rendering contemporary art more accessible to the Italian public.
Two major events were the retrospective of Picasso with 19 paintings (his first appearance at the Biennale at the age of 67) presented by Guttuso, and the Peggy Guggenheim collection (136 works by 73 artists) presented by Giulio Carlo Argan. This entered contemporary art into lively debate, thanks to the presence of the most advanced trends, such as Cubism and Surrealism. Ernst, Dali, Kandinsky, Klee, Mirò, and Mondrian were some of the names that characterised the 24th Biennale.
Only fifteen countries participated in this edition, as many nations were still recovering from the war. Empty pavilions were used to host special exhibitions (such as Impressionism in the German Pavilion, and the Guggenheim collection in the Greek Pavilion). An exhibition entitle Three Italian Metaphysical Painters featured works by Carrà, Morandi, and De Chirico. The latter however, did not agree with the curatorial choices of Francesco Arcangeli, and opened up a law suit, which was only to be concluded in 1955.
De Chirico refused to exhibit at the Biennale until 1956, when he presented 36 paintings in a personal exhibition. Giuseppe Marchiori curated an exhibition entitled Il Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, from which the Realist movement and the Group of Eight emerged in following years. A significant Impressionist Exhibition presented works by Monet, Sisley, Cézanne, Degas, Gaugain, and Van Gogh.
The national pavilions also organised important exhibitions. The French Pavilion lined up personal collections of Maillol, Braque, and Chagall, while Austria presented Egon Schiele and the sculptor Fritz Wotruba, using the Yugoslavian Pavilion for a comprehensive exhibition of Oskar Kokoschkla. The British Pavilion brought Turner and Henry Moore to Venice, the Belgian Pavilion, Ensor and Permeke. The central pavilion featured a personal exhibition of Paul Klee and another dedicated to German artists repudiated by Nazism. In the Italian section, amongst others, there were retrospectives of Arturo Martini and Gino Rossi, as well as personal exhibitions of Massimo Campigli, Filippo De Pisis, and Mino Maccari.