Francesco Bonami

  • The Haunted House, one of seven OMA-designed or renovated buildings at Fondazione Prada’s new venue in Milan.

    Inaugural Shows

    Architecture firm OMA reveals its Midas touch with the new venue of Fondazione Prada, opening this month with a swarm of inaugural activities. Led by Rem Koolhaas, OMA has transformed the industrial compound of a former distillery, erecting three new buildings and renovating seven existing structures. One, completely covered in gold leaf, will host a site-specific work by Robert Gober, and an installation by Thomas Demand will occupy the basement of another. The impressive range of exhibition environments includes a cavernous former sugar-storage area and a sixty-meter white concrete tower. And

  • Rudolf Steiner, untitled, 1923, chalk on paper, 40 1/8 x 60 1/4". From the series “Wandtafelzeichnungen zum Vortragswerk” (Lecture Blackboard Drawings), 1919–24.

    talks with Massimiliano Gioni about the upcoming 55th Venice Biennale

    From the “Family of Man” to the “Museum Without Walls,” the vision of a sweeping integration of art and non-art, ancient and modern, canon and fringe, has haunted the history of the large-scale exhibition for at least half a century. This summer, curator MASSIMILIANO GIONI throws his hat into the ring with the Fifty-Fifth Venice Biennale, synoptically titled “The Encyclopedic Palace.” Critic and curator FRANCESCO BONAMI, who helmed the 2003 Biennale, talks with Gioni about the upcoming show and its relationship to globalism, knowledge, anthropology, and idealism.

    FRANCESCO BONAMI: So it’s now

  • View of “Maurizio Cattelan: All,” 2011. Photo: David Heald.

    Maurizio Cattelan

    THIS PAST NOVEMBER, the Italian website Doppiozero published a text by Marco Belpoliti titled “The End. Berlusconi & Cattelan,” in which the author and literary critic notes the coincidence of Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation as Italy’s prime minister and Maurizio Cattelan’s announcement that he will retire from the art world after the exhibition “All”—his current bombastic retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. Yet Belpoliti doesn’t think this is the last we’ll see of either of them: Berlusconi and Cattelan may be saying farewell, but in fact they will, in one form or another, be

  • View of “L’arte non è Cosa Nostra (Art Is Not the Cosa Nostra), 2011, Italian pavilion, Venice. Foreground: Bertozzi & Casoni, Sedia elettrica con farfalle (Electric Chair with Butterflies), 2010. Background: Gaetano Pesce, L’Italia in croce (Italy on the Cross), 2011. Photo: Kate Lacey.


    THE VENICE BIENNALE may be the mother of all biennials, but it is also their Jekyll and Hyde. The Jekyll Biennale is the one the contemporary art world knows and praises. The Hyde Biennale is the one continually raped by the schemes of the Italian political underworld. To figure out the causes of the Biennale’s compulsion to jeopardize its own reputation, it is important to bear in mind a few details of its institutional structure that may be surprising to non-Italians.

    Forgive the tediousness of the necessary explanation. The Fondazione la Biennale di Venezia is an autonomous institution that

  • Francesco Bonami

    IF YOU ARE ORIGINALLY FROM TURKEY but become a German citizen, you will never really be German in the eyes of German-born people. Similarly, if you are from Albania but become an Italian citizen, you will never be Italian for those born in Italy. When you become a citizen of the United States, however—and this is a simple but important difference between the US and every other country in the world—you become an “American.” The rest belongs to the past, becoming a picturesque memory, and when it comes to your new home, you take the good with the bad. You pay taxes; you avoid the long queue at

  • Francesco Bonami

    1 “Fischli & Weiss: Flowers & Questions. A Retrospective” (Tate Modern, London) “Is happiness looking for me in the wrong place?” Anyone who can come up with this searching formulation—as Fischli & Weiss did for their slide projection Questions, 2002–2003—deserves a Nobel Prize. These artists won’t get one, of course, because they are lazy: They ski, they hike, they go on extended holidays—they also seem to laugh more than the average artist—and in between they make their amazing art. What more could you want from life (other than to be either Fischli or Weiss yourself)?

  • Joy Gregory, Sunil Gupta, and Gordon Gabashane at the 1st Johannesburg Biennale, 1995. Photo: Martha Rosler.


    When Francesco Bonami, director of last summer’s Venice Biennale, famously wrote in his exhibition catalogue that “The ‘Grand Show’ of the 21st century must allow multiplicity, diversity and contradiction to exist inside the structure of an exhibition . . . a world where the conflicts of globalization are met by the romantic dreams of a new modernity,” it was reasonable to imagine that he was responding to structural and thematic questions posed by Okwui Enwezor in his Documenta 11 of the preceding year. After all, the Nigerian-born curator, focusing on the issue of globalization, had in a sense