Artist Mike Boucher was excited to bring American suburbia to the Venice Biennale, constructing a floating McMansion—complete with cheesy yellow vinyl siding—set to grace the city’s famed canals. Unfortunately the house tilted off a failed pontoon and sank; a disaster for the artist (who actually seems to find the whole thing hilarious), but a good symbol for our housing market back in the USA.
We’re hitching the wagons this weekend to head to the 30th annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions, which include artist studio tours, gallery visits, a silent art auction, live music, and the yummy “food faire”. Of course our first stop will be the Art and Architecture tours of some of Venice’s coolest houses. We can’t wait to see Dennis Gibbens’ Multi-Use Townhouse (above). Here are a few more we’re excited about:
Last fall, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper spent a week in Venice reporting on the architecture biennale. One of our fondest Venetian memories—the few times we could afford them—was moving around La Serenissima in water taxis. As we’ve noted before, the Venetian water taxi is the world’s most elegant form of public transportation: hand-made wooden motor boats with tuck-and-rolled leather seating, customized canvas hoods, and spit-shined wooden hulls and decks. Well, the editors are headed back to Italy, this time for Milan’s Saloni di Mobile.
The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. Read More
The Bellinis, toasts, and information exchange about digital technology flowed freely at a reception and rooftop dinner at the Danieli Hotel hosted by David Rockwell, Aaron Betsky, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio and Charles Renfro joined the celebrants after decamping from an equally glam—but apparently mosquito infested party at Villa Malcontenta—party hosted by Zaha Hadid celebrating collegue-divided-only-by-the-centuries Palladio. Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid stayed in the Villa’s formal gardens, Couture recounted, pretending they were in the characters in the classic flick, Last Year at Marienbad.
The three-story timber buttress of familiar forms rising midway through the Arsenale was already pretty impressive on the first day but then a guy showed up and set up shop in the corner to hammer out clay tiles, the 1,000 year old Venetian way, that will ultimately—in two weeks—clad the entire structure. The process of covering the wood armature in clay is also the first step usually used in making a bronze cast a la the Statue of Liberty. And so naturally we are wondering who’s in the market for a really big Gehry paperweight.
It only took a few hours—and espressos—to catch the jitters going around Venice the day before press opening. Since I was in tow with the Commissioner of the US Pavilion, our own Bill Menking, and crew it was a privileged view, but no less insane as architect elves, ie support staff, scurried around town trying to find that last minute acetate binder, glue gun, 6-color color printer etc etc. The big guns don’t arrive til later today or even tomorrow if they were not invited to Zaha Hadid’s Read More
[Editor's Note: This post was written Sunday.]
It is two days before the opening of the Venice architecture Biennale and as commissioner of the United States pavilion I have been in Venice for a week mounting the exhibition. The Biennale opens on Wednesday for “important media” and the next three days for the rest of the press and anyone else that can find a ticket. This always sets up a huge scrum at the entrance to the grounds between the haves (those with passes) and the have-nots in the media. Read More