72 Hours in Venice

June 21, 2022

The LSSAA City Guide

Spending a weekend in Venice this summer? This is your guide to every must-see moment around the Biennale and beyond.

Buon Viaggio!

Simone Leigh’s monumental Brick House (2022) welcomes viewers in the opening gallery. Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.


10:00 a.m.

Milk of Dreams Exhibition | Arsenale

Curated with tremendous precision, the main show of the 59th Venice Biennale is a grand excavation of all things Surrealist and feminist. The true triumph is the re-contextualization of historic female artists with those of the present — about 90% of its artists are women! An important first for the Biennale. We loved the massive “Elephant” by Katharina Fritsch that greeted us in the Central Pavilion, as well as Simone Leigh’s equally monumental “Brick House” in the opening gallery. The show manages to strike a delicate balance between faithfulness to its themes (spirituality, mythology, and championing the work of women artists) and innovative exciting sculptures and paintings that will make even the most cynical among us smile.

Simone Leigh, Satellite (2022). Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.

12:30 p.m.

US Pavilion | Giardini della Biennale

After a quick break for lunch, we recommend making a beeline to the U.S. national pavilion. This year’s representative Simone Leigh dazzles with her use of ceramic and raffia, creating works that celebrate Black femininity and the material culture of her South and West African heritage. The first thing you’ll notice is that Leigh has replaced the exterior of the pavilion’s Palladian structure with a thatch roof and wooden beams in a brilliant redirection of colonial architecture and the histories it represents. This monumental sentiment is repeated in the great Satellite (pictured above), a commanding bronze figure whose features draw from D’mba ritual masks of the Baga people of West Africa. We had the wonderful privilege of learning about these works from Leigh herself.  She shared that these figures celebrate the spirit of maternity and independence, and that her work is intended to speak first to Black women. We promise you’ll come away feeling both electrified and hopeful after existing in Leigh’s vision for the future! 

Yunchul Kim, Chroma V (2022). Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.

2:00 p.m.

Korean Pavilion | Giardini della Biennale

The South Korean presence in the contemporary art landscape has surged over the last decade. The Korean pavilion is a perfect example of the inventive, experimental endeavors behind the country’s art world hype. Artist and composer Kim Yunchul has masterminded a handful of large-scale moving installations inspired by the fluidity of music to fill the Korean pavilion this year. The exhibition links technology, music, and art in a truly spectacular feat of engineering. Sculptures like the serpentine Chroma V (pictured) are designed to move and respond to changes in the surrounding environment – so if there is one show in the Giardini you must experience in person, it’s this one. 

A guide to the pavilions inside the Giardini at the Venice Biennale. Illustrations by Susan Coyne.

Before wrapping up your day at the Biennale, here are some other standout pavilions you have to see:

Sami Pavilion | Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara and Anders Sunna

Austrian Pavilion |  Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl

Hungarian Pavilion | Zsófia Keresztes

German Pavilion | Maria Eichhorn

Brazilian Pavilion | Jonathas de Andrade

Maltese Pavilion | Diplomazija Astuta

UK Pavilion | Sonia Boyce

French Pavilion | Zineb Sedira

Polish Pavilion | Małgorzata Mirga-Tas

Canadian Pavilion | Stan Douglas 

Refer to Artnet’s handy map of the Giardini’s national pavilions above and find more helpful tips for navigating the Biennale (including other shows, places to eat, bathrooms, and more) here!

Anish Kapoor installation at the Palazzo Manfrin, image courtesy of David Leven.


10:00 a.m.

Anish Kapoor Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia & Palazzo Manfrin

As a satellite exhibition to the Biennale, British artist Anish Kapoor is being honored with a show of epic proportions at both the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia and the historic Palazzo Manfrin until October 9. His work, as always, treads the line between science and art in a provocative yet surprisingly whimsical way.  Kapoor is the creator of Chicago’s famous Cloud Gate (affectionately called the Bean), and this exhibition is filled with about 60 similarly imaginative paintings and sculptures that are bound to enchant fans and strangers to Kapoor’s practice alike. Interestingly, Kapoor actually bought the Palazzo Manfrin, which is now set to open in 2024 as the headquarters of the Anish Kapoor Foundation. 


Grab lunch nearby before visiting one (or all!) of these outstanding nearby exhibitions:

Joseph Beuys at Palazzo Cini, April 20 — October 2, 2022 (3 minute walk)

Surrealism and Magic at Peggy Guggenheim Collection, April 9 — September 26, 2022 (5 minute walk)

Bruce Nauman at Punta della Dogana, May 23 — November 27, 2022 (5 minute walk)

*Estimated walking times take Gallerie dell’Accademia as the starting point

Installation views of Claire Tabouret at the Palazzo Cavanis. Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.

1:30 p.m.

Claire Tabouret | Palazzo Cavanis

Just a 5-minute walk from the Accademia, Palazzo Cavanis houses an inspired exhibition by French artist Claire Tabouret. We were especially impressed by Tabouret’s bronze statues of women that also double as functional fountains. Made this year, they epitomize the important theme of water as a medium of change and growth. This body of work in combination with the intimate elegance of the Palazzo Cavanis gives rise to an intimate, personal, almost dreamlike viewing experience.

Since you’re in the area, we recommend stopping by the nearby Magazzini del Sale No. 5.  The space is a former salt warehouse currently hosting an extension of film and video artist Stan Douglas’ takeover of the Canadian Pavilion. Even more compelling than his exhibition at the Giardini, this show is a remarkable two-channel video installation that explores the role of music as a historic and contemporary form of cultural resistance.

Installation view of “Marlene Dumas: open-end” at Palazzo Grassi, courtesy of the Pinault Collection.

3:00 p.m.

Marlene Dumas at the Palazzo Grassi

Until next January, the poignant work of South African artist Marlene Dumas has taken over Venice’s mighty Palazzo Grassi. Dumas’ portraits are at once tender, tragic, human, and unsettling – sentiments only heightened by their placement in this Grand Canal setting. This monographic exhibition has been described as exceptional and beautiful but definitely emotionally exhausting, making it the perfect final stop on Day 2. Wind down with a spritz in a nearby piazza. 

Anselm KieferQuesti scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (2022), installation view. Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.


10:00 a.m.

Anselm Kiefer | Palazzo Ducale

The Palazzo Ducale is hosting a magnificent, site-specific installation by German painter Anselm Kiefer until October 29. Kiefer was asked to produce a body of work that complements and responds to the existing structure of the significant Palazzo Ducale, the historic seat of Venetian government. We were blown away by the dialogue between Kiefer’s dark, materialistic wall reliefs and the Renaissance paintings lining the walls, in particular the drama of Tintoretto. We encourage you to join the conversation!


While you’re around, consider checking out:

Katharina Grosse at Espace Louis Vuitton, April 23 — November 27, 2022 (5 minute walk)

Georg Baselitz & Mary Weatherford at Museo di Palazzo Grimani, through November 27, 2022 (7 minute walk)

Installation views of Louise Nevelson‘s Persistence  at Procuratie Vecchie. Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.

1:00 p.m.

Louise Nevelson at Procuratie Vecchie

After lunch, resume your third day with the extraordinary work and career of Louise Nevelson. Here it takes center stage in a thoughtful retrospective marking the 60th anniversary of the artist’s representation of the United States at the 1962 Biennale. This building, well known to fans of the city for its magnificent Neoclassical facade along Piazza San Marco, opened to the public for the first time in history this year. Inside in its hallowed halls Nevelson’s intricate sculptures seem to stand even taller. This superb show is only a 4-minute walk from the Palazzo Ducale, and absolutely worth a visit!


Here are some other brilliant shows in the area:

Lucio Fontana and Antony Gormley at Negozio Olivetti, April 23 — November 27, 2022 (<1 minute walk)

Danh Vo, Noguchi, and Park Seo-Bo at Fondazione Querini Stampalia, April 20 — November 27, 2022 (5 minute walk)


And with that, your whirlwind weekend of Biennale wonder draws to a close. Here’s to making the most of your 72 hours in Venice!