Venice Biennale: the beginning


Since 1895, the so called “Giardini” in the district of Castello host one of the most important events for art lovers, the famous “Venice Biennale“: the exhibition palace, designed by Enrico Trevisanato and whose façade has been realized by the painter Marius de Maria, has been elected the first house of the Biennale of Art, inaugurated April the 30th 1895 and able to welcome 224.000 during its first activity year.

In the next years and till the first world war (Biennale stopped between 1915 and 1918), the development of Venice Biennale started with the acquisition of the management of Ca Pesaro (in 1902), thanks to the donation of the duke Bevilacqua La Masa. In 1910 it was already to look internationally, as there was an entire hall dedicated to Gustav Klimt, another one to Renoir and a third able to make an introspective analysis on Courbet’s operas; unfortunately, no works of Pablo Picasso were exposed at the Biennale, despite the original program was supposed to insert at least one: the organization had fear public could have considered it as a scandal, being extraordinary innovative, so people had to be waiting till 1948 to see the Catalan artist at the Venice Biennale. In 1914, before the stop, there were 7 active pavilions already.

In the period between the two world wars, the exhibition started to offer more space to the vanguards, as impressionism, post-impressionism, Die Bruecke, and the role of head of Venice Biennale went from the major to Giovanni Bordiga, named as the first president of the Biennale, helped by the secretary Vittorio Pica (and for 8 years only by a board of direction as well). By the end of the 20s, the Archivio Storico di Arte Contemporanea was born, and the Biennale passed to the management of the central Italian government: under the guide of earl Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, three new events were created: Biennale Musica (music), Biennale Teatro (theatre) and, moreover, Biennale Cinema (Mostra Internazionale del Cinema di Venezia), the first movies festival ever, originally host by the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior (Lido di Venezia) till 1937, when the Cinema Palace became the new venue after its construction.