Art is big business in New York. The city is home to some of the largest —and richest— cultural institutions in the world. If you like the visual arts, you can spend weeks viewing some of the world’s most famous artworks as you walk around institutions that are just as famous. The Met, MoMA, the Whitney and the Guggenheim are among New York’s top tourist attractions and welcome millions of visitors every year. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of walking around galleries.
If that all seems too pedestrian for your tastes, New York also offers countless niche or ‘alternative’ arts spaces alongside one of the world’s best collections of street art. At the other end of the financial scale (or political spectrum), the Chelsea Art District houses commercial galleries, each professing to have the best in contemporary art for sale— if you can afford it, and you probably can’t. Ironically, these galleries are free to browse, whereas the major art museums charge at least $25 for a ticket. While the wonders of the interweb allow you to visit many of these collections online for free, seeing these works in the flesh is, arguably, priceless.
On my recent trip to New York, I took advantage of what is on offer to get a major art ‘fix’. What follows are some of my experiences, photographs and opinions.
I’m staring out the window of a cab as I travel from JFK to Manhattan, the main hook of Taylor Swift’s song Welcome to New York is looping in my head. It’s perfect Instagram material. The view is familiar. Iconic. I have been to New York many times and it always seems the same. Even on my visit shortly after 9/11, when the Manhattan skyline had a murderous hole ripped into it, the city still felt reassuringly the same. But this time…
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is among the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century. It is located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal in Venice. The collection contains works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Georges Braque, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro, Rene Magritte and Peggy Guggenheim’s first husband Max Ernst. Guggenheim amassed most of this impressive collection in the very early stages of World War 2. As the Nazis were laying siege to Paris, she had the works spirited to New York hidden among her things. After the war, she returned to Europe where she opened a gallery and museum, first in Paris and then in Venice. Her collection is now one of Venice’s top tourist attractions.
The official Art Biennale spreads across the entire city of Venice and seeing everything is quite the undertaking; the main spaces of the Giardani and the Arsenale alone take hours to cover. However, there are many country pavilions and large scale installations to be seen elsewhere. In addition to the Biennale, Damien Hirst’s fantastical Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is currently on show at the Palazzo Grassi, and there are many impressive, permanent collections, such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, that are essential viewing.
Continue reading “Venice: Beyond the main Biennale”
Every two years since 1895, Venice has hosted the Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition. The Biennale is now a major international Art Expo that features contributions from around the world as well as attracting over half a million visitors to the city.
While there are official Biennale locations all across Venice, the main locations are the The Giardini, which houses 30 permanent national pavilions, and The Arsenale, where an exhibition of invited artists takes place. The Arsenale also houses many countries that do not have a permanent pavilion, including Ireland, which is represented this year by Jesse Jones with her work called Tremble Tremble.