The Diversity and Dynamism of the Venice Biennale


The 53rd Venice Biennale, which opened this week, is the most diverse fair yet, with a record 77 nationalities represented among 90 artists. This sampling, for example, includes artists from a new presence at the Biennale — the United Arab Emirates. (Lamya Gargash, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, and Huda Saeed Saif upturn the cliché of the stuffy, money-worshiping UAE art scene.) But it wouldn’t be a world art fair without the pioneers and the "It" artists: The American Pavilion won the Biennale’s highest accolade, the Golden Lion award, this weekend for its retrospective of conceptual artist and sculptor Bruce Nauman. The British video artist Steve McQueen, meanwhile, has stirred controversy with Giardini, a 40-minute silent film of the gardens the Biennale occupies every other year, shot in the dead of winter when it was occupied by wildlife and melting snow — along with a few amorous gay men. See a teaser in our slideshow.

Related: Saltz: Highlights of the Venice Biennale; Plus Worst In Show