Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin, Venezia
April 20 – October 09, 2022
Internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor is the first British artist to be honored with a major exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin in Venice during the 59th Venice Biennale opening on 20 April 2022 and running until 9 October 2022. The curator is art historian Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The exhibition, which includes about 60 works, has retrospective elements alongside newer bodies of work, presenting key moments in the artist’s career. Ground-breaking new works, created using carbon nanotechnology, are shown for the first time, as well as recent paintings and sculptures that are testament to the vitality and visionary nature of Kapoor’s current practice.
This interaction of science and art has created works that sit within an age-old language of painting, alongside installations like Shooting into the Corner (2008–2009), and new paintings enter a complex dialogue with the Gallerie dell’Accademia‘s historical collection. Perhaps more explicitly than ever, this exhibition looks to a language of the interior that has always been central to Kapoor’s practice. In Pregnant White Within Me (2022) the architecture of the gallery is distended, suggesting a re-shaping of the boundaries between body, building, and being. Throughout the exhibition Kapoor’s works absorb and extend the space within and around them into uncanny realms, transforming the rooms of the Gallerie dell’Accademia into sites for the magical – going beyond the display of objects.
The two-part exhibition continues with Mount Moriah at the Gate of the Ghetto (2022) turning the world upside down at the entrance to the historic Palazzo Manfrin, where some of the most famous works in the Gallerie dell’ Accademia’s collection originally hung. This pendulous mass leads visitors through to a set of rooms in the unfinished building featuring works from throughout the career of the artist; the painting triptych Internal Objects in Three Parts (2013 – 2015), as well as White Sand Red Millet Many Flowers (1982). A series of mirror works invert and distort the viewer. Heaven, hell, earth and sea are invoked in works such as Turning Water Into Mirror, Blood into Sky (2003), and Destierro (2017), an epic act of displacement. The central installation Symphony for a Beloved Sun (2013) submerges the historic venue in the primal color and the stuff of life and death.
Palazzo Manfrin was purchased in 1788 by Count Girolamo Manfrin, a wealthy tobacco merchant who transformed the first floor of the building into a picture gallery which quickly became one of Venice’s major tourist attractions visited by among others Antonio Canova, Lord Byron, John Ruskin, and Edouard Manet. When, around the middle of the nineteenth century, works in the collection were sold, after the death of Manfrin, the heritage of the Gallerie dell’Accademia was enriched with twenty-one paintings including masterpieces such as Giorgione’s The Tempest and La Vecchia and works by Mantegna, Memling, Nicolò di Pietro, Girolamo Savoldo and Moretto.
The 18th-century Palazzo Manfrin, which had been empty for many years, was recently acquired by the Anish Kapoor Foundation. The Palazzo is undergoing a radical renovation project led by architect Giulia Foscari / UNA studio, developed in collaboration with FWR associati. Anish Kapoor said: “It’s a huge honor to be invited to engage with the collections at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice, perhaps one of the finest collections of classical painting anywhere in the world. All art must engage with what went before. The Accademia presents a wonderful and wondrous challenge. I feel a deep commitment to Venice, its architecture and its support for the contemporary arts.”
Giulio Manieri Elia, the Accademia’s director, said: “Anish Kapoor has built his whole oeuvre on investigating the absolute essence of art in its constituent inner elements: form, pigment, perspective, light, and its absence, facilitating in this creative investigation a stimulating dialogue with the art of the great Venetian Renaissance masters represented in the museum: Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese.” Taco Dibbits said: “Kapoor creates works that are happening as we experience them. Throughout all of the spaces of this exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin, there is process and temporality on display and in action. These works exist in a continuous state of becoming, we are invited to witness these objects at just one moment in the process of their generation or degeneration.”