Hey everyone, guess what time it is? Yep, you got it – it’s officially the 2024 Venice Biennale season! Get ready to soak up all the artistic goodness as the crème de la crème of the contemporary art world descends upon Venice (yours truly included). With a whirlwind of exhibitions, openings, and events on the horizon, there’s no shortage of excitement in the air.

This year’s Biennale, titled Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere, is gearing up to blow your mind. Featuring over 300 artists from across the globe in the main section alone, this exhibition is a true celebration of the diversity and creativity of our world. The title itself draws inspiration from the thought-provoking neon sculptures of Claire Fontaine, boldly proclaiming “Foreigners Everywhere” in multiple languages. It’s a powerful statement rooted in the ongoing fight against racism and xenophobia, adding an extra layer of depth to the Biennale experience.

So, unless you have the luxury of spending weeks or even months in Venice, exploring every nook and cranny of the 2024 Biennale, fear not – I’ve got your back. If you’ve been following along with our Biennale guides over the years, you know the drill – we’re back at it again to hook you up with the ultimate list of the 10 must-see exhibitions in Venice for the months ahead. Sure, it might not cover every single art event happening in this vibrant city (because let’s face it, Venice is buzzing with activity as always), but these are the ones I’m personally excited to check out – either because I’m a huge fan of the artists or because I trust the visionaries behind the scenes.

But hey, if you’re ready to dive right in and have a good chunk of time to explore, I’ve narrowed down my top picks for this year. So grab your map and your sense of adventure – let’s make some art-filled memories in Venice!

1. Above Zobeide, Exhibition from Macao

If you’re wandering around the Castello area, don’t miss out on the captivating Above Zobeide exhibition, one of the official collateral events of the 2024 Venice Biennale. Presented by the Macao Museum of Art (MAM) and curated by Chang Chan, this showcase shines a spotlight on the contemporary art scene in Macao. Drawing inspiration from Italo Calvino’s renowned novel “Invisible Cities,” the exhibition features the remarkable work of artist Wong Weng Cheong. Highly acclaimed for expressing concern over the development of human civilization through an impressive desolate ambiance, Wong offers a poignant commentary on our era, showcasing brilliant imagination, vision, and originality, and echoing the theme of this edition of the biennale “Foreigners Everywhere”. Through immersive experiences utilizing cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and 3D graphics, Wong invites viewers on a journey of imagination and introspection.

Above Zobeide, Exhibition from Macao, China

Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà, Calle della Pietà, Castello 3701
April 20 – November 24, 2024 | Tue – Sun 10 AM – 6 PM | Free entry
More info: mam.gov.mo

Dread Scott, All African People’s Consulate (detail of passport interior), 2024. Participatory installation. Dimensions
variable. Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York.

2. All African Peoples’ Consulate

While you’re exploring the vibrant Castello area, make sure to swing by the All African Peoples’ Consulate. Organized by The Africa Center and Open Society Foundations, the conceptual project by artist Dread Scott serves as a functioning consulate for an imaginary Pan-African, Afrofuturist union of countries, promoting cultural and diplomatic relations. The premise of the Consulate is the opposite of most existing immigration chokepoints; while those often function to constrain admittance and movement, this Consulate facilitates ways to let one in. In a convivial setting, one is invited to stay, converse, and interact in organic, spontaneous ways. In keeping up with the Biennale’s main theme, Scott subverts the media narration about migrations, inviting everyone, Black, Afro-descendent, and everyone else, to meet and exchange ideas in this inclusive space.

All African Peoples’ Consulate

Castello Gallery, Castello 1636/A
April 20 – September 29, 2024 | Thu – Sun 11 AM – 7 PM | Free entry

venice exhibitions 2024 - Chu Teh-Chen Fondazione Cini
Chu Teh-Chun, Le point du jour, 1988-1989 (oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm)
Photo courtesy © Adagp 2023 and © Fondation CHU Teh-Chun

3. Chu Teh-Chun. In Nebula

Venturing to the San Giorgio Maggiore Island to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Chu Teh-Chun’s retrospective In Nebula is one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the season, and definitely one of the exhibitions I am looking forward to the most for 2024 in Venice.

Organized in partnership with the Chu Teh-Chun Foundation and curated by art historian Matthieu Poirier, this exhibition will be the most important in recent years dedicated to this Franco-Chinese painter, one of the key players in abstract art in the 20th Century. Featuring exceptional loans, the exhibition dives into the mesmerizing worlds created by the artist, starting from his recent large works and winding back to his earliest masterpieces. The three-dimensional scenography will resonate with the uncertain space of Chu’s pictorial nebula and the complex volumes of the venue, making the visit an unforgettable experience. 

Plus, don’t forget to grab a copy of the comprehensive monograph on the artist, a comprehensive and well-curated catalog, published by Éditions Gallimard, Paris, with a text by Matthieu Poirier, a perfect souvenir to complement your Biennale journey!

Chu Teh-Chun. In Nebula 

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore Island 30124
April 20 – June 30, 2024 | Every day except Wednesday, 11 AM – 7 PM | Free entry
More info: cini.it

4. Eva Marisaldi. Biribisso

One of my favorite Italian artists, Eva Marisaldi has been active on the international scene since the 1980s, participating in the Venice Biennale in 1993 and 2001. This year, the artist returns with a site-specific project inside the Carlo Goldoni’s House. The project develops in all the rooms of the building and consists of a series of original works, differing in technique and type but united by a common source of inspiration: the playwright, to whom the museum is dedicated, and his theatre work, as well as the world of entertainment and stage representation in general.

Working with installations, sculptures, graphics, and videos, and with a gift for reflecting on and analyzing her surroundings, Eva Marisaldi focuses above all on the private sphere of the individual, social reality, and the environment, creating micro-narratives where analogies and contrasts prevail over the essence of the narrative. The artist synthesizes the results of her investigation in visual, auditory, and literary elements as semantically dense as they are expressively linear, where fantasy alternates with reflection, and poetry with irony.

Eva Marisaldi. Biribisso

Carlo Goldoni’s House, San Polo 2794
March 21 – November 24, 2024 | Every day except Wednesday, 10 AM – 4 PM | Tickets €3,50/€5
More info: carlogoldoni.visitmuve.it

venice exhibitions 2024 - Lee Bae
Lee Bae. La Maison de La Lune Brûlée | Photo Courtesy Lee Bae Studio

5. Lee Bae — La Maison de La Lune Brûlée

Speaking of favorite artists, this year the Korean Wave seems to be affecting the collateral events of the 2024 Venice Biennale strongly, but I am most definitely not here to complain. Especially if this means visiting a new exhibition by Korean artist Lee Bae. 

La Maison de La Lune Brûlée explores Bae’s deep connection with Daljip Teugi, a century-old ritual synchronized with cyclical cosmology, intertwining folklore with contemporary art. It delves into humanity’s intrinsic connection with nature, advocating for a return to renewal and circularity.

Hosted at the Wilmotte Foundation in Venice, this exhibition is an immersive experience where you can dive deep into Korean philosophy and folklore traditions, through video, audio, sculpture, site-specific installations, and contemplative structures. In an era defined by complexity and estrangement from nature, La Maison de la Lune Brûlée delivers a compelling narrative of reconnecting with nature’s rhythms, celebrating lunar cosmologies and folklore traditions, posing vital inquiries about the enduring significance of ancient traditions in contemporary contexts.

Lee Bae — La Maison de La Lune Brûlée

Fondation d’Entreprise Wilmotte, Corte Nuova, Fondamenta dell’Abbazia 3560, Cannaregio
April 20 – November 24, 2024 | Tue – Sun 10 AM – 6 PM | Free entry 
More info: leebaestudio.com

venice exhibitions 2024 - Madang
Nam June Paik, Dolmen, Installation View, 1995. Courtesy Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

6. Madang: Where We Become Us

Speaking of Korean art, another exhibition worth checking among the official collateral events for the 2024 Venice Biennale is the one organized by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation. 

This special commemorative archival exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and reflects on the biennale’s history while envisioning its future. Asia’s leading contemporary art biennale, the Gwangju Biennale embodies values such as revolution, democracy, and community, within the realm of art. This exhibition comprises archival materials accumulated over the years, works from the Gwangju Biennale Foundation collection, and additional works expanding its significance. The themes explored in the Biennale’s editions, such as the climate crisis, race, gender, community, and democracy, are a testament to its endeavor to transcend geographical boundaries and contemplate the era from a planetary perspective. Against the backdrop of ongoing wars, discrimination, and hatred towards minorities across the globe, with this exhibition, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation once again affirms the power of art as a madang (open courtyard), symbolizing diversity and inclusion.

Madang: Where We Become Us

Il Giardino Bianco Art Space, Castello 1814
April 20 – November 24, 2024 
More info: madang.gwangjubiennale.com

venice exhibitions 2024 - Passenger in Transit
© Joanna Choumali

7. Passengers In Transit

Organized by CCA Lagos (Centre For Contemporary Art) and supported by 193 Gallery, Passengers In Transit is yet another official collateral event of the 2024 Venice Biennale. The exhibition brings together five Afro-descent female artists from Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA: April Bey, Christa David, Euridice Zaituna Kala, Joana Choumali, and Thandiwe Muriu. 

Diving deep into themes of foreignness, identity, and belonging, the artists explore the intricacies of our global society and employ interdisciplinary practices to navigate the convergence between identity, gender, memory, and place, prompting us to reflect on the representation of black bodies in our world. It’s a thought-provoking, and much-needed, exploration of history and fiction, urging us to recognize and respect diversity in all its forms.

Passengers In Transit

Ex Farmacia Solveni, Dorsoduro 993-994
20 aprile – 24 novembre 2024 | Wed – Mon 11 AM – 7 PM | Free entry
More info: ccalagos.org

venice exhibitions 2024 - Pierre Huyghe Punta della Dogana
Pierre Huyghe, Zoodram 6, 2013. Courtesy Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, 2015 © Pierre Huyghe

8. Pierre Huyghe. Liminal 

When in Venice, I always pay a visit to the Pinault Collection at Punta della Dogana, as it is one of the best museums in the city. For the 2024 Venice Biennale, the Pinault Collection presents the solo exhibition of Pierre Huyghe, titled Liminal. Created by Pierre Huyghe in close collaboration with curator Anne Stenne, the exhibition presents major new creations alongside works from the last ten years, particularly from the Pinault Collection itself. With this show, the artist transforms Punta della Dogana into a dynamic, sensitive milieu perpetually evolving. The exhibition is a transitory state inhabited by human and non-human creatures and becomes the site of the formation of subjectivities that are constantly learning, changing, and hybridizing. Their memories are expanding with information captured from events, both perceptible and imperceptible, that permeate the exhibition.

Pierre Huyghe. Liminal

Pinault Collection – Punta della Dogana, Dorsoduro, 2 
March 17 – November 24, 2024 | Wed – Mon 11 AM – 7 PM | Tickets €7/€15/€18
More info: pinaultcollection.com

Betsabeé Romero in Paris, 25 November 2021 | AFP/Thomas Samson on Diario Las Americas

9. The Endless Spiral: Betsabeé Romero

Organized by the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) from Long Beach, CA, the exhibition is a comprehensive survey and research project of the Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero and it explores her artistic practices through commissioned artworks and new installations, the result of the long-term relationship between the artist and the MOLAA Museum. Hosted in different galleries of the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, the show presents six different sections scattered in each of the galleries, creating a diverse presentation of the crucial topics of migrations and culture. It’s a powerful showcase that reveals the dualities and tensions in our world, introducing key ideas and concepts that are pivotal for the artist’s body of work. 

The Endless Spiral: Betsabeé Romero

Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Galleria di Piazza San Marco 71/C
April 20 – September 1, 2024 | Wed – Sun 10.30 AM – 5.30 PM | Free entry
Info: comune.venezia.it

venice exhibitions 2024  - Willem De Kooning
Willem de Kooning, Screams of Children Come from Seagulls (Untitled XX), 1975
Photo courtesy The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE (2024)

10. Willem De Kooning e l’Italia 

Last but definitely not least, another exhibition you don’t want to miss in 2024 in Venice is Willem De Kooning’s show at Galleria dell’Accademia. The exhibition explores the time de Kooning spent in Italy in 1959 and 1969 and the profound impact those visits had on his work. Featuring around 75 works, it’s the largest presentation of the artist ever organized in Italy. The exhibition will include a selection of the large and striking “Black and White Rome” drawings de Kooning made during his first extended visit to Rome in 1959, and will also bring together three of the artist’s best-known pastoral landscapes, Door to the River, A Tree in Naples, and Villa Borghese, where the lingering memory of his trip to Italy is very clear. The exhibition also comprises large figurative paintings from the mid-1960s, small bronze sculptures, and ink drawings, making it a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work and a testament to his ever-lasting impact on contemporary art. 

Willem De Kooning e l’Italia

Gallerie dell’Accademia, Calle della Carità, 1050
April 17 – September 15, 2024 | Tue – Sun 8.15 AM – 7.15 PM, Monday 8.15 AM – 2 PM | Tickets €2/€10/€15
More info: gallerieaccademia.it

Cover image by Luca Bravo on Unsplash