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PRINT November 1982

VENICE BIENNALE 1982: NO FORM, LITTLE CONTENTMENT

THE VENICE BIENNALE, AS CURRENTLY known, is the product of reorganization by the Italian Fascist state; though it was founded in 1895 by the City of Venice, its status was not fixed by law until December 1928, when King Vittorio Emmanuele III and Benito Mussolini declared it an autonomous agency. The law empowered a five-man commission to administer the agency; transferred the exhibition buildings in the Giardini out of city hands; and determined the Biennale’s financial structure—a fusion of funds from national and city governments, admissions, sales commissions, and catalogue receipts. With this law Mussolini both acknowledged the Biennale’s importance and underlined its multiple roles: tourism, national self-promotion, and cultural display were intertwined in a model of 20th-century planning.

This structure, as Lawrence Alloway has written (The Venice Biennale, 1895–1968, New York Graphic

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