Basel is, of course, six months into the year—a literal halfway marker—and the gates to summer slowness (though does the art calendar ever actually slow down? The dog-days of August are still encumbered with September preparations!). And just as it’s tradition to compete for the top-tier VIP card for that coveted first-entry spot, so is it to head on an art-journey post-fair.
Perhaps the most obvious—Venice! But we don’t need to tell you that. Still, Italy this summer is brimming with art activity that can’t be missed.
Coming from Basel, the coolest Biennial you’ve never heard of is nestled in the Dolomites’ Val Gardena and perhaps #1 on our lists: the 8th edition of the Biennale Gherdëina. “Persones Persons,” curated by Lucia Pietroiusti and Filipa Ramos, explores humanity’s connection to nature and the mountains across such diverse mediums as embroidery, ceramics, film, and interactive land art—all against the backdrop of the Italian alps—featuring Etel Adnan, Gabriel Chaile, and 24 other participants. One highlight: Alex Cecchetti’s Sentiero, a path around the town with accompanying performances and an app that the artist says provides, “an immersion in the deepest and most vital connections that hold together the life of the mountains.” If you head up for the post-Basel weekend, be sure to reserve a spot for the Saturday morning workshop associated with the piece, “Scents of the Dolomites.”
In Florence, one reader reached out to say the Donatello retrospective split across the Palazzo Strozzi and Musei del Bargello is, in fact, one of the best shows on the Renaissance artist yet. 14 works have been restored for this broad-reaching exhibition that features loans from more than 60 museums, contextualizing Donatello’s innovations alongside works by his contemporaries.
A flurry of activity surrounds Turin, including the re-opening of the Pinacoteca Agnelli with its marveled collection, but also a curated exploit from Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art that gives Beeple his first museum show, alongside Giacomo Balla, and Francis Bacon in “Espressioni con Frazioni [Fractional Expressions].” The foundation also has an exhaustive show on Arte Povera in the city of its founding.
Meanwhile in Milan, the Fondazione Prada has mounted Elmgreen and Dragset, who have taken over much of the compound for their exhibition Useless Bodies?, a five-part investigation of our bodies’ changing roles in the post-industrial age. At the Pirelli HangarBicocca contemporary art museum, Anselm Kiefer’s monumental towers The Seven Heavenly Palaces reign. That said, the institution has mounted two current temporary exhibitions that survey the careers of Anicka Yi (Metaspore) and Steve McQueen (Sunshine State, where you can—and should—stare directly into the sun). McQueen’s Small Axe film incidentally is also on view at the Prada Cinema.
In Reggio Emilia, the Collezione Maramotti presents 20 large-scale photographs by Carlo Valsecchi commissioned in conjunction with the city’s Fotografia Europea festival. Titled Bellum, the project resulted from three years of work shooting WWI-era ruins and their surroundings during winter in the Alps. And we keep hearing rumbles about Gavin Brown in Rome—and who can resist a little Dolce Vita? The eternal city is always the right place to end any Italian, errr Roman Holiday.