Venice is a hypnotic, theatrical city, a floating dream, an undulating maze, filled with blurred reflections, poetry – a place you come back to. It was a summer stop for our founding friends.

They discovered the city returning from a trip to Greece and the illustrative sketches are by Desmond Knox-Leet. The terrace one showing the Gothic arches of the Doge’s Palace in Saint Mark’s Square, the next an imposing church in a small square – famous families feuded on account of their membership of different churches. The last was drawn from a room in La Calcina, a place where he used to stay.

In these drawings one feels the sun, heat, and dreamy languor that bathes the Serenissima. It was August 1970 – the year of the 35th Biennale and the 32nd Venice International Film Festival.

The International Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Venice Biennale and the Venice International Film Festival, date back to 1893 and 1932 respectively. These are the two oldest events of their kind, their power and influence being as strong as ever.  The Biennale spreads itself all over the city in the form of small exhibition pavilions, either dedicated to a country or an artist, plus in the wide open spaces there are theme-based collections of work. Aesthetic contemplation then takes a backseat as the city is full of festive excitement abounding in emulation and trade. Since 1999, the immense Arsenale also houses contemporary artistic works and installations. 

The Biennale stays several months after its opening (May – November) giving the public plenty of time to enjoy it, long after the professionals have left this prestigious arena of talent where many artists arrive with high hopes. The Venice Biennale 2015 is from 9 May to 22 November. Under the auspices of Paolo Baratta and the American Nigerian art critic Okwui Enwezor, the theme is “All the World’s Futures” asking artists to question “how to understand, grasp and echo events that are shaking the world today”.  Contemporary artists from the 89 countries represented will exhibit in the historic Giardini and Arsenale pavilions.