Country Life

Take five: British Biennale sensations


THE Venice Art Biennale, which celebrates its 60th anniversar­y this year, opens for preview today, with the inaugurati­on on April 20 (to November 24). Titled ‘Foreigners Everywhere’, it explores both the meaning and presence of outsiders and the fact that, in the words of curator Adriano Pedrosa, ‘no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner’. The British pavilion—one of 88— presents works by Sir John Akomfrah (https://venice biennale.britishcou­

1. Britain has participat­ed in the Biennale since 1895, the first exhibition open to internatio­nal artists. Among the works displayed was a painting by James Abbott Mcneill Whistler (although American, he qualified because he lived in the UK): Symphony in White, No.2: The Little White Girl (left) picked up one of the event’s top prizes

2. In 1905, Alfred East, who had already been a commission­er for the Biennale, became president of the jury that judged all the entries

3. In 1948, the first Biennale after the Second World War, Britain presented an interestin­g ‘old and new’ combinatio­n— works by Turner and Henry Moore—to extraordin­ary success, leading Moore to say in an interview years later: ‘The British Council did more for me as an artist than any dealer’

4. In 1993, Pop Art pioneer Richard Hamilton, a sprightly 71 year old, won the Biennale’s highest accolade, the Golden Lion, with Spain’s Antoni Tapies

5. In 2022, Sonia Boyce’s groundbrea­king exhibition ‘Feeling her way’, which combined video, collage, music and sculpture, also won the Golden Lion prize

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