Less than a month to go until the Grand Opening of the 57th Biennale . Spanning from the 13th of May – 26th of November this year, the theme is VIVA ARTE VIVA , and there’s one artist in particular to be aware of: Damien Hirst.

A bit of Biennale background:

The coming of Biennale season is not only apparent when you see the large shipments arriving by boat. It’s also obvious in how many conversations you hear begin talking about it. Interestingly (and somewhat unbeknownst to many), the Biennale is not limited only to artists. You’ll find that people of all ages, genders, cultures, and lines of work, fall into deep discussion about the event before, during and even well after it ends. As a result, it’s an extremely diverse event that offers an immeasurable amount of material to digest. The expositions and galleries are designed in such a way that they can be enjoyed by those who simply visit for fun as well as serious artists on quests for inspiration.

Some say its sheer size can be intimidating, but our advice would be to relax and realize you will never see it all. It’s also extremely important to be aware that the Biennale is not limited only to the Arsenale. With this in mind, some of the most amazing exhibitions are actually littered throughout the city. Consequently, this brings a whole new dimension to the beauty of stumbling through the streets of Venice. Typically, it might not be strange to come across an old ship yard or 16th-century fresco. But now, with this expansion of the Biennale, we really cannot predict what you may see or from what part of the world it may hail.

Sprawling exhibitions by day, Your Truly Venice Apartment by night

This year, there will be 120 artists from 51 countries; 103 of these artists are participating for the first time. Four countries will also be participating for the first time: Antigua and Barbuda, Kiribati, Nigeria, and Kazakhstan (for the first time with its own national pavilion). This demonstrates the positive impact the event has as an institution on the creative minds of people from all over the world. The Biennale gives artists from all walks of life a platform to show and see new ideas.

One thing worth remembering during this period is how to treat your evenings . After a day spent devoted loyally to art and enriching cultural boundaries, we often forget how exhausting it can be. This is especially true when you are among large crowds, such as what you might experience during the Biennale. This is when the pleasure of retiring to your very own Truly Venice Apartment really comes into its own. After such a long day, exerting oneself to uncover the legendary Venetian cuisine can feel simply draining. For this reason, we recommend during this period more than ever to take advantage of our private dinner service.Rather than sacrificing quality in the name of comfort, we will create a unique menu using fresh Venetian ingredients, in the ease of your Venice Home.

The hype behind Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is undoubtedly the talk of the town at the moment, with the exposition “Treasures from the wreck of the Unbelievable.” Surprisingly, the arrival of his colossal exhibition was more widely publicized in London than in Venice. Despite this, it was a closely guarded secret right up until the opening with only a few breadcrumbs offered by the artist to tease long awaiting audiences.

The first of many unusual aspects of this show is that it occupies two prized spaces in Venice, purely because it is so big. It houses 189 pieces to be exact! For this reason, it may be wise to split your visit into two days, or at least break it up with a spritz in between.

The first location is the renowned Palazzo Grassi, located near the Accademia bridge (just a few steps away from, Venini Apartment ). Built between 1748 and 1772 by architect Giorgio Massari, Palazzo Grassi was the last palace to be built on the Grand Canal before the fall of the Venetian Republic. It has long had a connection with the arts, dating as far back at 1951, but more recently has focused on contemporary art since being bought by François Pinault.


Punta Della Dogana, on the other hand is a rather unique location in Venice. It was originally a Sea Customs House that reopened in 2009 as a space for contemporary art under the Pinault foundation. Interestingly, the space retains a lot of older characteristics in the structure yet somehow also lends itself perfectly to large scale exhibitions.

Hirst’s Biennale Concept:

Damien Hirst is renowned for his thought-provoking art, but in recent years he has been fairly quiet after receiving heavy criticism for his latest projects, which were branded “lazy.” This latest exhibition at Biennale can be called many things, but lazy is not one of them. Instead, what is brilliant about this showing is that while not everyone might enjoy it in the same way, it undoubtedly provokes conversations, arguments, rationalization, and new thinking.

Supposedly, all the treasures that are on display are the salvaged remains of a ship-wreck discovered in 2008 from off the coast of East Africa. The wreck was called “The Apistos” ( The Unbelievable) . The finding lent credence to the legend of Cif Amotan II, a freed slave from Antioch (north-west Turkey) who lived between the mid-first and early second centuries CE.

Photographed by Christoph Gerigk © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.
Photographed by Christoph Gerigk © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Hirst begins by explaining the history of the ship-wreck and then the discovery. By the time you reach the second floor, you’re fully immersed and convinced of the historical legitimacy of these findings. Hirst masterfully observed traditional exploration exhibitions and combined this with our artistic expectations of him.

In a time when we are being constantly bombarded with dubious news, Hirst raises the interesting question of legend versus fact. One might subsequently ponder what value there is in “believing” things too quickly. Perhaps his intention is to make us think more critically of what we see and read before jumping to conclusions.