PRINT September 1999

Katy Siegel

WELCOME TO THE SALON DE FIN DE SIÈCLE. Despite all the funky art (and all the bad art), the exhibition radiated glamour, an aura amplified by the beauty and sheer impracticality of Venice itself.

The national pavilions, with their “It’s a Small World” feel, form a famously rigid, dated structure, but I almost preferred them to the Gesamtkunstwerk multinationalism of the reinstated Aperto. The antithesis of the white cube, this hodgepodge of mini-manses winsomely highlighted the peculiar Disneyland nature of the Biennale. Taking the mission of national representation seriously, only Ann Hamilton and Gary Hume seemed to bear up under the Miss Universe pressure, through big thinking (Hamilton) or simply thinking (Hume). Hume spread himself thin over a lot of large paintings, and his tremendous superficiality suited the occasion perfectly; Hamilton, on the other hand, suffered from earnestness—the

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