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In 2005, Francois Pinault acquired the 18th-century Palazzo Grassi in Venice, followed soon after by the Punta della Dogana, as a forum to showcase his mammoth art collection. Since then, Pinault’s spaces have hosted a roster of some of the world’s most important contemporary artists, and this year he presents “Prima Materia” (running through May 30th – December 2014) at the Punta della Dogana.
For this latest exhibition, coinciding with the opening of the Venice Biennale, Pinault enlisted curators Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan to co-curate almost 80 artworks spanning the last five decades. Drawing inspiration from medieval texts on alchemy, the pair reference the title “Prima Materia” as an element that reflects both cultural perspectives and personal identities. As they describe, it is an “essence, everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere” that “takes many forms.”
In light of this, the show aims to create a key dialogue between two artistic movements of the 60s and 70s: Arte Povera in Italy and Mono-Ha in Japan. In order to modify the perception of each space, the works have been incorporated with a younger generation of artists. Los Angeles-based Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch have transformed the first great hall into a juxtaposition of constructions, furniture, installations and screenings, while Theaster Gates, Sherrie Levine and Zeng Fanzhi all exhibit new works throughout the space.