Of all the things I have seen in Venice, particularly in connection with the Biennale, by far the most powerful has been the installation by Axel Vervoordt in the Palazzo Fortuny on the theme of Intuition. Ten years ago, the Palazzo Pesaro, which was left to the city of Venice by the childless Mariano Fortuny on his death in 1949, was in a state of disrepair. Vervoordt kept its state of picturesque decay intact and this year has done a beautiful, powerful set of atmospheric installations, combining ethnographic material with contemporary art. I have seldom seen this form of highly aestheticised, abstract display done so well, except maybe in Peter Zumthor’s Kolumba Museum in Cologne.
The displays began with a group of prehistoric monuments in a darkened room, some at least borrowed from the Soulages Museum in Rodez:-
Round a corner, there’s a recent Antony Gormley (2013) and a work by Anish Kapoor:-
Upstairs, one comes into the grand first floor salone, with views out over the roofs of Venice and a vast and atmospheric black-and-gold work by El Anatsui:-
Elsewhere in the room, there are mixed display cases, with works displayed against patterned silk:-