"Think With The Senses- Feel With the Mind" as the 52nd Venice Biennale is titled and is, according to Robert Storr, its Director (the former Museum of Modern Art curator and now Dean of the Yale School of Art) predicated on "the conviction that art is now, as it has always been, the means by which humans are made aware of the whole of their being".
Perhaps more telling, Storr points out that the dichotomies that art presents, be they thought versus feeling, reason versus unreason or the intellect versus the senses, have sharpened our capacities for comprehending the world and making our place in it.
And in its presentation this vast and striking exhibition does exactly that. Here, many exceptional works are brought together. Truly among the best our contemporaries in the world of art have to offer -- artists with great talents and extraordinary sensibilities in a setting that only a culture for centuries wedded to the arts, and deeply respectful of their significance, could present with such breathtaking nobility. European culture has not always been triumphant, but in this venue, at this moment it has permitted an exceptional exhibition to take hold and to stage it in a manner that permits each artist, each work, to communicate with us in personal dialogue.
The exhibition is immense covering many thousands of square feet at
the traditional exhibition sites at the 'Gardini' and the 'Arsenale', as well many off site installations throughout the length an breadth of Venice. There are the national pavilions from 76 nations (from Azerbaijan to Venezuela) each competing in the realm of artistic excellence. Yet the highlight are the installations at the Gardini and the Arsenale selected and installed by Storr and his small team. I add the word install simply because installation is of manifest importance in the presentation of works and Storr's has been exceptional. The works are presented in a clear and crisp way so that the eye stays on the work and not the need to unravel a muddled compendium. In a medium so nuanced and so subject to distractive excess, installation can do much to enhance or diminish. And Storr has accomplished it with authority.
Traveling the length and breadth of the globe these past two years, he has filled the exhibit with
artists ranging from Pakistan (Nalini Malani), Japan (Izumi Kato), Dan Perjovschi (Romania), Cheri Samba (D.R. of Congo) to illustrate with but a small sampling the diversity of the artists chosen as well as impressive work by a wide range of advanced career artists ranging from the likes of Elizbeth Murray to Sigmar Polke -- familiar talents with brilliant new works, often commissioned for the Biennale by Storr.
Here is certainly "the exhibition" of this new Century. It comes at a time when so much else of our human endeavor seems chained to a world in descending chaos. Do you want to see what we are capable of? Of what we have the intrinsic ability to achieve? What we seem to be losing sight of with each passing day? Then come to Venice!
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