Venice – An Art Guide


“It was an electrifying week to reflect, admire and embrace the intersections of art, design, and architecture in this magical city.” – Simone Joseph of SGJ Fine Art, on her trip to Venice during the 2017 Biennale di Venezia with Fortuny and Fuigo.

As a private art advisor based in New York City, I have the great fortune of working with a multitude of creative people across the globe: artists, collectors, curators and designers. Malcolm James Kutner, one such talent with whom I collaborate, recently introduced me to his friends and colleagues at Fortuny and Fuigo as they were preparing to take a small group through this year’s Biennale di Venezia to explore art, architecture and design. I was delighted when they invited me to tailor part of the itinerary for their group with a special focus on the art. It was a week-long adventure that kindled new friendships and inspiration on many levels.

Even though I have visited the Biennale numerous times, it is affirming that my perspective can still be changed by art. The 2017 Biennale, VIVA ARTE VIVA, curated by Ms. Christine Macel, Chief Curator of the Centre Georges Pompidou, includes 120 artists from 51 countries and 86 national participants. This year focuses on the true spirit and importance of the artist’s voice: the exclamation for change, drawing attention to various worldwide issues, community and individual introspection, intellect and creativity during a time of upheaval and controversy.

Sam Gilliam’s Yves Klein Blue drapes the Giardini’s central pavilion 

Anne Imhof’s Faust at the German pavilion, Venice Biennale

Looking at contemporary art within period architecture can offer novel perspective and insight. It is an experience resonating across time and history, disparate cultures and divides. Our diverse group of design professionals, collectors and art enthusiasts began in the Giardini. We wandered through the Central Pavilion group show and were lured swiftly to the individual voices of the National Pavilions. This year, women in particular have a formidable presence representing diversity of culture, medium and individuality. A thread that maintains respect for history while forging a new future connects the artists. Tracey Moffatt (Australia) addresses refugees and the reality of feeling misplaced through stunning photography and video; Anne Imhof (Germany) and her powerful, seductive and confronting performance; Phyllida Barlow (Great Britain) throwing caution to the wind with giant sculptures that don’t fit in the designated space nor adhere to any conformity; Teresa Hubbard, Alexander Birchler and Carol Bove (Switzerland) addressing the master, Giacometti, and woman as muse.

“Philip Guston and the Poets” by Philip Guston at Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

Later in the week, we continued following the path of past and present voices before “Getting Lost in Venice.” Awestruck by Philip Guston and the Poets at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, we looked at over 50 works by the genius influenced by 20th Century literary criticism. Then we had a private tour by Michael Short, a friend, colleague and the curator of Evan Penney: Ask Your Body at the Chiesa San Samuele, a unique account of the human body juxtaposed with classical works dating back to the 1st Century AD. We finished this day’s art tour with Vik Muniz: Afterglow – Pictures of Ruins at the Palazzo Cini, a contemporary homage to the classical works within the Cini Collection.

The itinerary that I helped design was complemented with special visits to the Fortuny Museum and Palazzo, select villas of the Veneto, local artist studios, and dinners in friends’ private homes and restaurants that were organized by Fortuny and Fuigo. We concluded the week with a celebration in the gardens of the Fortuny Showroom & Factory on the Giudecca, where I invited the newly appointed Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Karole P. B. Vail, to join us. I know Karole from her time at the Guggenheim in New York, and it was wonderful to reconnect with her in Venice. On this final evening of the trip as we shared and discussed our week’s journey through Venice, including our first night’s visit to the Peggy Guggeheim Museum’s extraordinary collection expressing the personal vision of Peggy Guggenheim.

Medardo Rosso with the spirit of Giacometti at Pallazzo Fortuny Intuition exhibition

It was an electrifying week to reflect, admire and embrace the intersections of art, design, and architecture in this magical city, and I am honored to have helped plan and participate in it. One participant asked me if we were going to see beautiful things. I responded, “Beauty is a conversation.” The desire to learn and search for beauty and meaning allowed for compelling conversations that I hope will continue for a long time.

Until 2019….

-Simone Joseph, SGJ Fine Art LLC

To see more images from the trip, visit Fortuny’s Instagram or check out #fortunyxfuigo.