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The Venice Biennale


Reflection of the year: 

“You no longer have the middle classes buying something beautiful to put on the wall and hang on to it. This is a thing of the past.”

After 2 years of doubts and uncertainty, and despite the war having a huge impact, 2022 marked a reversion to the pre-pandemic world, with renewed confidence in the art market, the launch of new art fairs, and the return of in-person exhibitions.

This year saw the comeback of Art BaselManifestaDocumenta, Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, and several other international fairs. 

The 59° Venice Biennale “The Milk of dreams”, curated by Cecilia Alemani, closed in November its record edition: with more than 800thousand tickets sold, it’s the highest attendance in the 127 years of history of the Venice Biennale.


Whitney Biennial took place after a year of suspension due to COVID. Titled “Quiet as It’s Kept”, the 2022 edition featured an intergenerational and interdisciplinary group of sixty-three artists and collectives whose dynamic works reflect the challenges, complexities, and possibilities of the American experience today.

Two new art fairs were inaugurated this year: ‘Paris+, par Art Basel’, a new section of the Art Basel set at the feet of the Tour Eiffel, and the Frieze Seoul, the first Asian fair that included more than 118 galleries worldwide.

The auction houses are creating again, and in general, the art market is rising up, in a positive trend after 2 years of stasis.

Philips declared 2022 as “the best year ever”, with auction sales for $1.3 billion, the highest annual total in the company’s history for the second consecutive year, and has beaten the most valuable lot ever of the auction house: ”Untitled” by Jean-Michel Basquiat from the collection of Yusaku Maezawa, which made 85 million dollars.

With its 8.4 billion dollars made, Christie’s is the undisputed queen of international auction sales.

The first place on the podium was taken by Andy Warhol with the award of $195 million of his “Blue Marilyn”. In addition to being the most expensive work of 2022, it has become the most expensive American artwork ever sold and the most expensive work of the 20th century auctioned off.

Andy Warhol, Blue Marilyn


Second and third positions are still taken by Christie’s with “Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), 1888” by George Seurat, sold for $149,2 million, and “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 1888-90” BY Cezanne, sold for $ 137,7 million.

This year art world experienced two of largest and most exceptional art collections’ sales.
One was Macklowe collection auctioned in May, which generated $922 m,
the other one Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s collection sold in November for $1.5 bn, which became the biggest art sale in history, and setting numerous new auction records.

The only negative trend in auction selling is set by China, due to the zero-tolerance policy on COVID.

China, in fact, in the same period of 2020/2021 was the unchallenged leader of this segment while today it has lost the -33% and left the head of the market that has been regained by the United States, growing by +20%.

It was undoubtedly a banner year for the ultra-contemporary market and the under-40 artists.
The number of artists under 40 at auction increased fivefold and their turnover increased twenty-six times in just over twenty years and in the first half of 2022 stood at a record figure of 200.9 million dollars.

Lucy Bull had one of the most impressive auction debuts of the year: Special Guest (2019) sold for $907,200 at Sotheby’s in May. Anna Weyant had her breakthrough year, with 15 paintings sold at auction in 2022, ranging in price from $150,000 to $1.6 million. 

Rachel Jones is one of the most promising British artists working today; her works have been acquired by esteemed institutions worldwide, and her painting “Spliced Structure” broke the million-dollar mark and set the promising artist’s current auction record.

In “The Milk of Dreams” exhibition at the 59th Venice Biennale, one room was dedicated to Louise Bonnet’s Pisser Triptych”, a work with recalls religious iconography, apart for its subject matter: hulking bodies peeing. Bonnet’s work is becoming increasingly welcome beyond just institutional spaces.


Anna Weyant, Falling Woman, 2020

Courtesy of Sotheby’s


Lucy Bull, 8:50, 2020

Courtesy of Phillips


Rachel Jones, Spliced Structure (7), 2019

Courtesy of Bonhams


Louise Bonnet, Pisser triptych, Venice Biennial, 2022


Abstraction & Surrealism rising again

If in 2021, figuration was everywhere, but this year, the tide seems to be shifting and abstraction is taking over faces, objects, and recognizable objects. Paintings are still the favorites for collectors, but the trend seems to shift more to abstracted figures and metaphors.

For instance, at Gagosian’s Frieze London fair, abstract painter Jadé Fadojutimi’s works, each priced at £500,000 were sold out before the fair even opened.

Jadè Fadojutimi, There exists a glorious world. Its name? The Land of Sustainable Burdens, 2020


“The Milk of Dreams” exhibition at Venice Biennale presented the subconscious, the mythical, and the spectral through a female-led list of Surrealists like Jane Graverol, Unica Zürn, and Alice Rahon, alongside contemporary artists like Dora Budor, Marianna Simnett, and Raphaela Vogel, who explore those themes in new ways.


How about NFTs?

NFTs, a trend that I’ve talked about that seems to be taking over the world at the end of 2021, seems now like a big bubble ready to implode: if in February Pak’s “Clock” was sold for a record $53 million in Ethereum, and plenty of galleries moved to cater to this new segment of collectors, by May, much of the shine of blockchain-based works was depleted by the enormous crash in the prices of cryptocurrencies.

And the market for NFT’s collapsed as dramatically – sales volume stood at $9m in November, compared with $93m just sic months before.

Despite that, the art world continues to find ways to work with NFTs: Christie’s, for example, announced its new platform, Christie’s 3.0. 

Due to the inconstancy of this kind of currency, it’s hard to foresee what will happen to NFTs next year, so we must wait and see what will happen in 2023.


Ai & Art

On the other side of NFTs, there’s no doubt that AI is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the art world: algorithmic paintings are spreading all around, from social media to exhibitions in museums like the MoMA. AI-generated artwork is increasing and probably will mark a huge slice of the art market next years, whether the ethical implications are good or bad. 

With both NFTs and AI artwork, technology has now become intertwined within the art world. This is evidenced by the unprecedented popularity of online auctions, digital viewing rooms, and, of course, the growing role of social media in discovering art and artists.


The war in Ukraine

This year is marked by the war in Ukraine: since February 2022, every aspect of the worldwide economy and life has been touched by the conflict, including art.

Many NFT artists used the profits of their work to benefit war efforts in Ukraine, and many auction houses raised money to help in this time of difficulties. 

“Women at war”


In NY, at Fridman Gallery, “Women at War” featured works by a selection of the leading contemporary women artists working in Ukraine, and provides a context for the current war, as represented in art across media. Several works in the exhibition were made after February 24, 2022, when Russia began its full-scale invasion.

New York-based art dealer Cuban Fine Arts and EUASU (the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Ukraine)  started the project “Art Against War” to support scholars, journalists, photographers, and people in need due to the present conflict in Ukraine. The participants in the project are Ukrainian artists who express the courage and unity of the Ukrainian people through their art.

“In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900 – 1930s”, in Madrid, is an exhibition that collects early 20th-century masterworks from Ukraine’s National Art Museum left Kyiv shortly before the city was struck by the heaviest bombardment of missiles by Russian forces during the year. 

“Carousel” (1921) by David Burlier, a painter associated with the Futuristmovement.

Credit: National Art Museum of Ukraine


Also, at Venice Biennale, The Future Generation Art Prize @ Venice 2022 has been replaced by the collateral event “This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom”, in partnership with the Office of the President of Ukraine and Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, presenting the work of contemporary Ukrainian artists whilst also contextualizing Ukrainian history and culture with support from international artists.

JR , Ukraine Defending Freedom, Venice Biennial, 2022


The future is female

Female artists utterly dominated the biggest contemporary art exhibitions and prizes in 2022. The Venice Biennale’s “The Milk of dreams”, curated by Cecilia Alemani, was dedicated to female artists, and the Golden Lion for best contribution went to Simone Leigh. The award for the best pavilion was won by Great Britain for an exhibition curated by Sonia Boyce, and the Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement went to Katharina Fritsch and Cecilia Vicuña. 

Simone Leigh, Venice Biennial, 2022


The Turner Prize 2022 was won by Veronica Ryan ahead of Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard, and non-binary artist Sin Wai Kin. 

The winner of the Marcel Duchamp Prize is the French Mimosa Echard, highlighting the increasing relevance of women in art.

A piece of huge news concerning international prices is that after 26 years, Guggenheim canceled the prestigious $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize.


New Museums

New museums opened this year for the very first time, despite the years of lockdown when this possibility seems to fade away. Not only Europe, but most of them are opening in Africa, India, Turkey and China.

The Instanbul Museum of Art  is set to enliven a seaside stretch that has also seen the recent opening of Galataport, a multipurpose development with a long pedestrian promenade along the 


Opened in November 2022, the Grand Egypt Museum in Giza is the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization.

In India, in Bengaluru, businessman Abhishek Poddar, known for his eclectic collection of art and photography, opened the Museum of Art & Photography. More than 18,000 of his own pieces will be on display here.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum houses nine galleries, full of rare books, traditional calligraphy and imperial treasures on loan from the Forbidden City in Beijing.



It’s been a  very good year for art, despite the war coming up after 2 years of uncertainty. Auction houses closed the year with a positive trend of profits. 

Surrealism ad abstraction is rising again, as seen in Venice Biennale. Female artists are more and more represented. 

Technology has now become irreversibly intertwined within the art world, both with AI-generated artworks and NFTs.

New museums are opening for the first time, marking a good signal for the world to reopen their frontiers to visitors and tourists.


“The Shades Of The Art Rainbow Are Endless: Choose Your Favorite!”

The Venice Biennale

Biennale di Venezia
The Venice Biennale, founded in 1895 on the initiative of a group of intellectuals, is the oldest biennial art exhibition in the world. Starting from 1930, having become an independent body dedicated to the promotion of new artistic trends, the Biennale began to take on the multidisciplinary character that is still so remarkable of it.

The exhibition immediately became an important opportunity for comparing different countries and a prestigious showcase for the artists invited to take part in it, an indispensable springboard that launched some of the big names that made a contribution to the history of art.

The number of participating nations is always very high, this year they are 90 and among these there are also some new presences: Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Dominican Republic that participates for the first time with its own Pavilion.

The Venice Biennale is the Exhibition that very well allows to study the artistic currents of the whole world and to put them into dialogue in a single place, able to welcome artists and art lovers from all over the planet, even during a difficult historical period like the one we are experiencing.

It is no coincidence that the title of this 58th edition curated by Ralph Rugoff, “May You Live in Interesting Times”, takes up precisely the climate of uncertainties and great upheavals that are marking the global history.

Rugoff, curator of numerous exhibitions of international artists such as Carsten Holler, Ed Ruschka and George Condo, is the current director of the Hayward Gallery in London, one of the most important public galleries in Great Britain and has also supervised the artistic direction of the XIII Biennial of Lyon (2015).

The interesting theme proposed by Ralph Rugoff allowed the artists to develop different reflections which resulted in not only socio-political interpretations but also wider considerations and new readings of the times we are living, implementing an analysis that is the mirror of an ever-increasing world rapidly evolving, information overload and characterized by a ubiquitous, often alienating technology.

There have been painful and sadly very topical issues, such as the delicate issue of migrants, military conflicts in the Middle East – and beyond – of racism and everything that reflects our times and the precarious aspects of our existence. Some proposed works are an interesting combination of critical thinking and aesthetic pleasure.

An edition with many valid proposals, which sees a strong presence of very young artists (most of them were born after 1980) among which many women appear, for a fresh, effervescent and directly addressing Biennale.

The choice of Rugoff to invite only two Italian artists out of 79 has triggered many controversies, since Italy is the host country, although there are many important names in the international contemporary art scene, they have been excluded from this edition as many renown artists are not present.

Among the many interesting pavilions with high-level artistic proposals, the Golden Lion for the best National Participation was assigned to the Lithuanian Pavilion with the project “Sun & Sea (Marina)”, which was characterized by an experimental performance featuring a sort of tableau vivant, a tribute to the city of Venice and at the same time a reflection on the fragility of man and criticism of leisure and contemporary habits. The work is signed by an all-female artistic trio: Lina Lapelyte, Vaiva Grainyte and Rugile Barzdziukaite.

The Golden Lion for the best participant in the International Exhibition was awarded to Arthur Jafa (USA 1960), an African-American artist who presented the film “The White Album” (2019), a profound reflection on the racial theme that intertwines violence to the detriment of black citizens to an intimate diary in which the artist’s friends and family appear. Jafa is also present in the spaces of the Arsenale with “Big wheel and I” (2018), large sculptures in the shape of a catenate wheel that aim to present the world from the perspective of those who are black.

The artist has exhibited all over the world and in several personal exhibitions including, to name only the most recent, at the ICA in Boston (2018), at the Serpentine Gallery in London (2017), at the MOCA in Los Angeles in 2017 (the city in which Jafa lives), at the Hammer Museum (2016) and in many important collective exhibitions: MCA Chicago (2019), Moma of San Francisco (2018), Dallas Museum of Art (2017).
His final consecration in the Olympus of art took place in 2017 with the film “Love is The Message, The Message Is Death”, a video that talks about African American identity.

The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement went to Jimmie Durham (Arkansas, USA 1940), American performer, essayist and poet. Durham’s art ranges from design to performance, from collage to sculptures often made with everyday materials, and is characterized by a denunciation of the futility of violence and oppression against ethnic minorities. His works are characterized by a critical but at the same time funny approach, often accompanied by amusing and light texts but functional to a sharp criticism of society.

For Durham it is the sixth participation in the Biennale (the last in 2013) and he has had personal exhibitions in museums around the world including the Hammer Museum Los Angeles (2017-2018), MAXXI Rome (2016), the Serpentine Gallery London (2015).

International exhibitions include, in addition to the Venice Biennale (Editions 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2013), Documenta (1992, 2012), Whitney Biennial of New York (1993, 2003, 2014), Istanbul Biennial (1997, 2013). He has been given important retrospectives at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (2012), at the Musee d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009), at the MAC in Marseille and at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (2003). In 2017 a new retrospective of his work from the 1970s to the present has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Remai Modern in Saskatoon.

The Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the Exhibition went to Haris Epaminonda (Cyprus 1980), a Cypriot multimedia artist who deals with photography, video and collage. In her installations the artist creates mental routes through the use of images, objects and texts in a delicate intertwining of historical and personal dimensions. Epaminonda has exhibited all over the world, lately she has participated in a group show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2018).

A special mention to the Belgian Pavilion for the project “Mondo Cane” by Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, which with its mechanical puppets engaged in traditional works now disappeared offers an alternative and merciless vision of social relations in Europe.

Special mention to the artist and photographer Teresa Margolles (Mexico 1963) who in the work “Muro Ciudad Juárez, 2010” has reconstructed a crumbling wall from Ciudad Juárez, the most violent and bloody city in Mexico, to turn the spotlight on the theme of drama of women involved in Mexican drug trafficking.

In addition to being the protagonist of a solo show at the PAC in Milan in 2018, Margolles has exhibited in monographs at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal (2017) and at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (2018).

Special mention also for Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria 1974), a Nigerian artist who focuses on the great importance of media in the politics of the earth, within a broader reflection that embraces the precarious aspects of today’s existence. The work “Veins Aligned” (2018) that crosses the spaces of the Arsenale for more than 25 meters, builds a parallel between the concept of territory and that of body, both bearers of similar characteristics.

The Venice Biennale was able to count on a total budget of around 13 million euros and was carried out thanks to the support of some sponsors, including Swatch (partner of the event), illycaffè (main sponsor), JTI (Japan Tobacco International) , Artemide, Vela-Venezia Unica and Seguso Vetri d’Arte, in addition to the contribution of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, local institutions, the City of Venice, the Veneto Region, the Archeology Superintendency, fine arts and landscape for the Municipality of Venice and Laguna, the Navy.

Coinciding with the Biennale, there are many parallel proposals promoted by the various Institutions and Foundations of the territory that present surprising exhibitions, not just a frame of the International Exhibition.

Among the excellent exhibitions we cite: “La Natura di Arp” at the Guggenheim, Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi, “Place and Signs”, a collective of 36 contemporary artists at the Francois Pinault Foundation in Punta della Dogana, the spaces of the Academy Galleries are dedicated in Baselitz, a retrospective on Jannis Kounellis can be visited at the Prada Foundation, while the most extensive retrospective of Alberto Burri in recent years is at Palazzo Cini.


Le sfumature dell’arcobaleno dell’arte sono infinite: scegliete la vostra preferita!

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