The Art Angle Podcast: Why Art Biennial Superstars Exist in a Parallel Universe

Writers Ben David and Kate Brown discuss our Biennial Art Project.

Chiharu Shiota's 'One Thousand Springs' at the Japan Festival, London. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.


You’ve heard quite a bit about major international exhibitions on the Art Angle recently—the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial, and most recently Documenta, which comes once every five years to Kassel, Germany. On their own, each of these are closely watched events by art mavens looking to spot the next big trend in contemporary art. But they are also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a circuit of exhibitions that pop up around the world, from Athens to Bangkok to Cuenca to Dakar to, well, you could keep going on down through the alphabet.

With the newest Documenta now open, we asked ourselves: What if you could go to every one of these biennials? What kinds of trends would you see? To answer the question, our writers looked at the artists included in hundreds of such exhibitions held since the last Documenta in 2017, to find out which names came up most. The answers that emerged were surprising, frankly, even to us, revealing a list of biennial artist superstars who have dominated the conversation among curators in the last five years. These figures make art cut to fit the biennial circuit. They even have their own means of economic support.

To talk about the findings of our Biennial Art Project, today we have a conversation between two of the writers who worked on it: Ben Davis, our National Art Critic, and Kate Brown, our European editor.

You can read more about the full project, which includes an extremely long list of all the artists in our data set, which galleries represent them, and an essay on what it means to be a biennial artist on Artnet News and Artnet News Pro.


Listen to other episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: How Kennedy Yanko Welded Her Way to Art Stardom

The Art Angle Podcast: How Documenta Became the World’s Most Controversial Art Show

The Art Angle Podcast: The Scandalous Rise and Fall of Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick

The Art Angle Podcast: How Artificial Intelligence Could Completely Transform Art

The Art Angle Podcast: Want to Wear a Basquiat? Inside the Big Business of Artist Merch

‘Our Role Is Really to Push Back From Rules’: Nari Ward on How To Make a True Portrait of New York City

The Secret Codes of World-Class Art Auctions, Demystified

Is the Venice Biennale Any Good? Here’s What Three Art Critics Think

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