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LETTERS FROM VENICE

Allan Schwartzman

More frequent than Documenta, more worldly than the Whitney Biennial, and addressing itself to a larger, more varied audience than the art fairs, the Venice Biennale remains the art world’s international schmooze center. With its 30 national pavilions and literally dozens of auxiliary shows, it is also the most vital of the international contemporary-art events. It is where you go to find out what’s happening in art. “Discovery rather than sanctification, ” writes Jean Clair, the commissioner of the 1995 Biennale, "has always tended to be . . . the main aim of the Biennale.

Well, no. Far from it. “II Percorsi del gusto” (Journeys of taste), an exhibition celebrating the Biennale’s 100th anniversary, makes abundantly clear just how off-target the event has tended to be: it is astounding how frequently the Venice Biennale has failed to identify the artists and movements at the core of Modern

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