Art: Egos, Kitsch and the Real Thing

With work from 41 nations, Venice opens its biggest Biennale

The Venice Biennale is the longest-running art festival in the world. It has too many shows, too many egos clogging the Grand Canal and not enough people on the switchboard. Even when it is bad it is still good because it is held in Venice--an advantage that few other cultural shindigs can claim. The 42nd Biennale, which opened last week, is the largest ever, featuring work from an unprecedented 41 nations. It divides into two main sections: the national pavilions and a set of shows arranged around a given theme. This year the theme is relations between art and science.

The...

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