Exhibitions: Year of the Mechanical Rabbit

Every other year, Venice resumes its ancient, skulduggerish air of a medieval city-state choosing a doge. The modern version is the International Biennale of Art, which last week, in its 33rd session, pitted more than 270 artists from 37 nations in an ofttimes murky, sometimes catty battle for supremacy. Over the years, jurors have been called corrupt, the vernissage* week of hanging and judging has been sneered away as a mere carnival, and the prizes have been dismissed as being as meaningless as leather medals.

The Contessa & the Jappening. Yet, for all the vintage grapes of wrath, the summer-long...

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