Venice Biennale: serious and smart

Kim Levin in The Brooklyn Rail: “So many skulls, tibia, ribcages, soldiers in uniform, mortally wounded dolls, and flocks of birds morphing into missiles or warplanes (the way skulls and bones morphed into picks and shovels during the Black Plague) haven�t been seen together in the art world since, well, the Dark Ages….Storr�s show may be apocalyptic, as one critic remarked, or it may, as another concluded, be boring. But it is fiercely intelligent and thoroughly compelling, with a relentless dialogue that ricochets among far-flung works.” Read more.

Jerry Saltz in NY Magazine: �If I were in my twenties or thirties, or even (alas) my forties, I can imagine being impressed but also a bit let down and oppressed by it. I�d wonder if this wasn�t partly history being told from the point of view of the victors�a business-as-usual shoring-up rather than research into the mix and morphology of the moment. As Glenn O�Brien observed about German painter Albert Oehlen, who would have added something to this show, �There�s only one right way [to do something] but [Oehlen explores] a million brilliant errors.� Those brilliant errors are missing here.� Read more.

Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker: “For me, the conduciveness to meditation that holds up throughout the acres of new and newish international art in the Biennale�s two main sites�the grandiose Fascist-era Italian Pavilion, featuring, as it usually does, a world-embracing exhibition of putatively top artists, and the quarter-mile-long Arsenale, an ancient facility of the Venetian navy, devoted to emerging talent�borders on the miraculous.” Read more.

In the NYTimes, Michael Kimmelman says the VB is “subtle and sober. And, well, yes, maybe it�s just a little boring. But it grows on you.” Robert Storr, VB curator, includes work by Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, Sigmar Polke, Susan Rothenberg, Sol LeWitt, Elizabeth Murray.Read more.

Ken Johnson in the Boston Globe: “Called ‘Think With the Senses — Feel With the Mind: Art in the Present Tense,’ the exhibition is a strikingly sober affair that awkwardly combines examples of classic Modernist style and works of dry, politically charged Conceptualism. It seems designed to call the art world to task for its free-spending, pleasure-loving ways. Against the carnivalesque spirit of the Biennale as a whole, it aims to set art itself on a path of morally high-minded purpose and steer it away from the dangers of decadent entertainment and flashy spectacle.” Read more.

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