The Venice Biennale 2009––June 7th

Copyright 2005 Jens Haas -

We spend an afternoon in the consummately curated, under Axel Vervoordt’s direction, ‘In-finitum,’ one in a series of exhibitions at the Palazzo Fortuny. Spanning four floors, it moves upwards from Lucio Fontana’s primordial clay stones in a darkened basement, to the high white perfection of Ettore Spalletti’s (new to me) sculptures—like square, translucent Brancusi. In the middle floors, pieces are intimately laid out in cabinets and on tables: Egyptian earthenware, unfinished Renaissance paintings, all in a setting of wall tapestries and Venezian cloth, frayed with age. Memorable was James Turrell’s installation, like falling into a Rothko painting made of light. (Indeed it eclipsed, for me, an actual Rothko hung in an interior space on the fourth floor, a seeming apotheosis of the show). For the first time, in these surrounds, I understood Ad Reinhardt’s monochromatic paintings, this one, ‘Abstract Painting’ (1956-1960), so many vibrating black panels.