PRINT September 1978

The Venice Biennale: Can It Rise Again?

THE VENICE BIENNALE IS ONE of those exhibitions which refuses to die or simply go away. A visitor since 1960, I have announced its demise in print at least once. The principals complain, the critics growl, sympathizers speculate; basic lessons, quickly learned and quickly forgotten, are never applied where they should be. From a 1964 peak, when a younger generation took over and introduced art as freewheeling experiment, to a 1974 low, when a quarrel among politicians caused its cancellation, several solutions were suggested to cure the dowager’s ills. The prize system, attacked by Henry Geldzahler in 1966 and suspended in 1968 because of art-world pressures, no longer exists. The laissez-faire of an era that encouraged commercialism was replaced by organizational controls, in an attempt to structure the formerly chaotic displays around governing principles of a thematic or ideological

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