Beyond the Biennale: Here Are 15 Shows and Events Worth Seeking Out in Venice Outside the Main Event

Get away from the Arsenale and Giardini to scope out these must-see shows.

Venice. Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images.

It would take a Herculean stamina to see everything in both the Giardini and the Arsenale and keep an eye out for all of the collateral events and exhibitions taking place in Venice next week. That’s why we’ve combed all the announcements to bring you this selection of 14 off-site highlights.

From Edmund de Waal’s intervention at the Jewish Ghetto to a celebration of Georg Baselitz at the Academy Galleries to a concert featuring artist-musicians in one of the most resplendent theaters in Europe, here’s what you’ll want to keep on your radar.


 “Helen Frankenthaler: Pittura/Panorama


What: This show marks the first time Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings have been shown in Venice since the 1966 biennale, when her work appeared in the US Pavilion. Fourteen paintings spanning a 40-year period focus on the interplay between the titular pittura—paintingand the panorama—large, horizontal paintings that open onto shallow but expansive spaces.

When: May 7–November 17, 2019

Where: Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Castello, 4858A, Venice


Georg Baselitz: Baselitz—Academy” 

Georg Baselitz, Schlafzimmer (Bedroom) (1975). ©Georg Baselitz Treuhandstiftung. Photo: Jochen Littkemann.

What: The storied German painter is the first living artist to be feted with a retrospective at Venice’s Academy Galleries. Curated by art historian Kosme de Barañano, the show will cover Baselitz’s six-decade-long career and will include a section dedicated to work he made in response to Italy and the academic tradition.

When: May 8-September 8, 2019

Where:  Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, Campo della Carità Dorsoduro 1050, 30123 Venice


Edmund de Waal: psalm

Installation view of Edmund de Waal's <i>psalm</i>. Courtesy of the artist.

Installation view of Edmund de Waal’s psalm. © Edmund de Waal 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

What: Artist Edmund de Waal is bringing his immaculate, delicately hewn ceramics into a place that’s shrouded in darkness and trauma: the Venetian ghetto, where Jews were forced to live in exile, separated from the Christian population. The installation will consist of several vitrines filled with porcelain, marble, and gold sculptures to reflect on the historical legacy of those living in the ghetto.

When: May 8–September 29, 2019

Where: Scuola Canton, Calle Orto 1191, and Ateneo Veneto, Campo San Fantin 1897, Venetian Ghetto


Arshile Gorky: 1904-1948

Arshile Gorky, Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife (1933–34). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. Gift of / Dono di the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1966, 66.2150. Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Arshile Gorky, Portrait of Myself and My Imaginary Wife (1933–34). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. Photo by Lee Stalsworth.

What: This show marks the first retrospective survey of the US artist Arshile Gorky in Italy. More than 80 works spanning the career of the pivotal figure in 20th-century American art will be showcased in the exhibition organized by art historian Gabriella Belli and Royal Academy of Arts curator Edith Devany .

When: May 8 through September 22, 2019

Where: Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art, Santa Croce 2076, Venice


Sean Scully: Human

Sean Scully, Wall 3 (2017). Courtesy of Sean Scully.

What: The Benedictine monks who are in residence at this Venetian basilica aim to bring the church’s activities in contact with contemporary art. For Scully’s part, the Irish artist will show new sculptures, paintings, and drawings inspired by the monks’ manuscript collection, as well as the architecture of the church.

When: May 8 through October 13, 2019

Where: Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Isola di S.Giorgio Maggiore, 30133, Venice


Encores: Music on Recurrence, Redundancy and Surplus

The Venice Theater, courtesy of Art Monte Carlo and Art Geneve.

What: In this concert of works by artist-musicians including Pierre Huyghe, Jonathan Monk, Annika Larsson, Anri Sala, each of the performances is inspired by the concept of an ‘encore,’ used here as a metaphor for recurrence, reiteration, and change. The show is curated by the composer Augustin Maurs.

When: May 9, 2019, at 8 p.m.

Where: Teatro del Stabile Veneto, Carlo Goldoni San Marco, 4650/B, 30124, Venice


BURRI: la pittura, irriducible presenza” 

Alberto Burri, <i>Rosso Plastica M3</i> (1961). Fondazione Palazzo, Albizzini Collezione Burri.

Alberto Burri, Rosso Plastica M3 (1961). Fondazione Palazzo, Albizzini Collezione Burri.

What: An expansive retrospective of 50 works honoring the so-called “Master of Materials,” this show spans the entirety of Burri’s career and covers the breadth of his interest in unusual materials, including tar and plastic.

When: May 10 through July 28, 2019

Where: Fondasione Giorgio Cini Onlus, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice


Gunther Förg: Förg in Venice

Günther Förg Untitled (2005). © Estate Günther Förg, Suisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019
Courtesy of the estate of Günther Förg, Suisse and Hauser & Wirth.

What: Bold abstract works by the late German post-war artist Günther Förg will be installed in a magnificent historic palace right on the Grand Canal.

When: May 11 through August 23, 2019

Where: Palazzo Contarini Polignac, Sestiere Dorsoduro, 874, 30123, Venice


Jannis Kounellis at the Fondazione Prada

Greek artist Jannis Kounellis on March 8, 2016 at the Monnaie de Paris. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

What: A major retrospective dedicated to the late Greek-Italian artist, who was a key figure in the Arte Povera movement, brings together 60 works from 1959 to 2015. The show was curated by Germano Celant.

When: May 11 through November 24, 2019

Where: Fondazione Prada, Venice Ca’ Corner Della Regina, Santa Croce 2215 30135, Venice


There Is a Beginning at the End: the Secret Tintoretto Fraternity

Dmitry Krymov, still from video installation, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

What: Contemporary artists channel the spirit of Tintoretto and a secret Venetian brotherhood in an exhibition held in an historic church, all organized by Moscow’s Pushkin Museum and the Stella Art Foundation.  

When: May 11 through September 11, 2019

Where: Chiesa de San Fantin: Campo San Fantin, San Marco 1390/a, Venice


Future Generation Art Prize” Exhibition

Emilija Škarnulytė, installation view. Courtesy of the artist.

What: The exhibition of 21 artists who made the cut for the Pinchuk Center’s shortlist for the annual art prize will be on display to coincide with the Venice Biennale. This year is especially exciting as it’s the 10th anniversary of the prize, and the list is chock full of contemporary art darlings including Toyin Ojih Odutol, Sondra Perry, and the winner, Lithuanian artist Emilija Škarnulytė.

When: May 11 through August 18, 2019

Where: Palazzo Ca’Tron, IUAV University Santa Croce 1957, 30135, Venice


Philippe Parreno: ELSEWHEN

Philippe Parreno in Venice. Courtesy Espace Louis Vuitton.

What: A brand new installation by the French artist involving the development of microorganisms, Parreno has wallpapered the space with yellow phosphorescent paper, and will play with a mechanical mirrored shutter to adjust the light to evoke an interesting echo of the reactions of the microorganisms.

When: May 11 through November 24, 2019

Where: Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, San Marco 1353, 30124, Venice


Luc Tuymans: La Pelle

Luc Tuymans, Schwarzheide, 2019, Fantini Mosaici, Milano, installation view at Palazzo Grassi, 2019. © Palazzo Grassi, Photography by Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti.

What: This major survey of more than 80 figurative paintings from 1986 until today will include the Belgian artist’s new site-specific piece.

When: On view through January 6, 2020

Where: Palazzo Grassi, San Samuele 3231, Venice


Adrian Ghenie: the Battle Between Carnival and Feast” 

Adrian Ghenie, Figure with Dog (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London· Paris, Salzburg. © Adrian Ghenie.

What: Recent paintings by the influential Romanian painter, some of which have been created specifically for this exhibition, will be showcased in this historic museum setting. United by the theme of water, the works on view will reflect the maritime history of Italy’s floating city as well as engage some of the tougher questions about contemporary geopolitics.

When: On view through November 18, 2019

Where: Palazzo Cini Gallery, Campo San Vio, Dorsoduro 864, Venice



Studio Drift's "Fragile Future Chandelier". Photo courtesy Carpenter's Workshop and Lombard Odier.

Studio Drift’s Fragile Future Chandelier. Photo courtesy Carpenter’s Workshop and Lombard Odier.

What: This show, which includes works by Studio Drift, Virgil Abloh, and Wendell Castle, among others, focuses on the usefulness and uselessness of art and design. Among the questions it asks are: Why doesn’t art have to be practical, whereas design does? And why does it have to be this way? The show takes place in the beautiful Ca’ d’Oro on the Grand Canal.

When: On view through November 24, 2019

Where:Ca’ d’Oro, Fondamenta Trapolin, 3932, 30121 Venice

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