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La Biennale di Venezia

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La Biennale di Venezia

From the '70s to
the reforms of 1998

1974 – 1998


From Freedom for Chile to the "Biennale of dissent". Arsenale becomes an exhibition space. The centenary of the Biennale in 1995 and the creation of the "Society of Culture".


On 23rd January, the legislative decree took effect whereby the Biennale was transformed into a legal personality in private law and renamed "Società di Cultura La Biennale di Venezia". The company structure - Board of directors, Scientific committee, Board of auditors and assembly of private backers - has a duration of four years. The areas of activity became six (Architecture, Visual arts, Cinema, Theatre, Music, Dance), in collaboration with the ASAC (the Historical Archives). The President is nominated by the Minister for Cultural Affairs. The Board of directors consists of the President, the Mayor of Venice, and three members nominated respectively by the Regione Veneto, the Consiglio Provinciale di Venezia and private backers. In April, the president was nominated: Paolo Baratta, for the four-year period 1998-2002. A new area of activity, Dance, was added to the others. The directors were: Alberto Barbera (Cinema), Giorgio Barberio Corsetti (Theatre), Bruno Canino (Music), Carolyn Carlson (Dance), Massimiliano Fuksas (Architecture), Gianfranco Pontel (Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts), and Harald Szeemann (Visual Arts). 



Whilst awaiting a reform of the Organisation, the Biennale's Administrative Board was renewed. University professor in the history and criticism of cinema, Lino Miccichè, was President, with Gianfranco Pontel as Secretary general. The 47th Art Exhibition, curated by Germano Celant, revolved around the exhibition "Futuro, Presente, Passato" (Future, Present, Past), in which three generations of artists between 1967 and 1997 met 'virtually'. In total, the Exhibition hosted 58 participating countries. Golden Lions to Marina Abramovic and Gerhard Richter.



The 6th International Architecture Exhibition was held, an event that ended the centenary activities. The Curators were nominated for the 1997 events: Germano Celant for the 47th Art Exhibition, Felice Laudadio for the 53rd Mostra del Cinema.



For the Centenary, the Biennale promoted events in every sector of its activity: the 34th Festival del Teatro, the 46th Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte, the 46th Festival di Musica, the 52nd Mostra del Cinema. At the centre of the events for the Centenary was the historic exhibition Identità e alterità (Identity and Alterity), held in collaboration with Palazzo Grassi and curated by Jean Clair: an important recognition of the human face and body in the work of the leading artists of the 20th century, with works from the most important museums in the world.


President Gian Luigi Rondi, nominated for the four-year period 1993-1996, arranged six study days dedicated to the Biennale's areas of activity: "Quale Biennale dopo 100 anni? Identità, prospettive, riforma" (What Biennale after 100 years? Identity, prospects, reform). Immediately after, the sectorial directors were nominated with the task of preparing the centenary events: Lluis Pasqual (Spain) for Theatre, Jean Clair (France) for the Visual Arts, Hans Hollein (Austria) for Architecture, Mario Messinis for Music and Gillo Pontecorvo for Cinema.



The 45th Art Exhibition, which should have been held the year before, was postponed to this year, in order to make the next Exhibition coincide with the Biennale's centenary.



In preparation of the Biennale's centenary, two congresses were held in Venice and Rome to discuss the prospects for the reform of the organisation. The Sectorial Curators were nominated: Achille Bonito Oliva for the Visual Arts, Gillo Pontecorvo for Cinema, Mario Messinis for Music. 



Two exhibitions were held within the headquarters of the Historical Archives at Ca' Corner della Regina: one on Tadeusz Kantor with theatre sets, costumes, machines and objects, the other on four masters of contemporary print-making (Friedländer, Goetz, Hayter, Vedova).


The 44th Art Exhibition had as its title "Dimensione futuro" ("Future dimension). Amongst the special exhibitions, Ambiente Berlin, Homage to Chillida and Ubi Fluxus ibi Motus (commissioner Achille Bonito Oliva).



A special exhibition dedicated to the pictorial œuvre of Jean Cocteau was held in the Italian pavilion within the Giardini as part of the activities organised by the Cinema sector.



The sectorial directors were nominated for a four-year period: Giovanni Carandente (Visual Arts), Guglielmo Biraghi (Cinema), Francesco Dal Co (Architecture), Sylvano Bussotti (Music), Carmelo Bene (Theatre). The 43rd Art Exhibition, directed by Carandente, was entitled "Il luogo degli artisti" ("The place of artists").



Calvesi, director of the Visual arts sector, revived the Gran premi, which had not been assigned since the protests in 1968. The Exhibition explored the relationship between Art and Science.



The Art Exhibition tackled the theme of "Arte e arti" (Art and arts), under the direction of Maurizio Calvesi. Luigi Nono's Prometeo was given its world premiere in the disused church of San Lorenzo.



Paolo Portoghesi was the new president of the organisation; he held the post for two consecutive four-year periods, until 1992.


The Architecture sector was set up: the director, Paolo Portoghesi, opened the Corderie dell'Arsenale to the public for the first time, transforming them into a "strada novissima". The first Aperto section for young artists was arranged by Achille Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann in the Magazzini del Sale, as part of the 39th Art Exhibition directed by Luigi Carluccio. At the Mostra del Cinema, the awards were brought back into being (between 1969 and 1979, the editions were non-competitive): Golden Lion for best film ex aequo to Atlantic City by Louis Malle and Gloria by John Cassavetes. Maurizio Scaparro launched the Carnevale del Teatro throughout Venice. Aldo Rossi produced the "Teatro del Mondo" in Bacino San Marco.



Under the presidency of Giuseppe Galasso (1979-1982), the principle was laid down whereby each of the artistic sectors was to have a permanent director to organise its activity.



A quotation by Kandinsky, "great abstraction, great realism" provided the starting point for the Art Exhibition, divided into six "stations", with the title "From nature to art, from art to nature".



On 15th November, the so-called 'Biennale of dissent' (international and of the USSR) opened. Because of the controversies that ensued, president Ripa di Meana tendered his resignation for a time.



July saw the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (the ASAC, Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts), in palazzo di Ca' Corner della Regina at San Stae, Venice.



The four-year presidency of Carlo Ripa di Meana began (1974-1978). The International Art Exhibition was not held (it was resumed in 1976). Theatre and cinema events were held in October 1974 and 1975 under the title Libertà per il Cile (Freedom for Chile).