ARTS & CULTURE
“As someone with a deep love of Venice, I have wished for a long time to provide a place where art can be inspired by and created in this incomparable city. We are thrilled to now realize this dream by renovating the Palazzo Diedo and making it accessible to the broad public as a base for the wider Berggruen Arts & Culture initiative. We look forward to seeing innovative artists from the city itself and around the world come to Palazzo Diedo to make new work and put forth new ideas, returning Venice to its eminence as a site of artistic creation.” - Nicolas Berggruen, Founder and Chairman.
Based in the historic Palazzo Diedo in Venice’s Cannaregio district, Berggruen Arts & Culture will encourage the work of today’s artists, deepen the connection between contemporary art and the past, and make art more widely accessible to the public. Following restoration of the palazzo, Berggruen Arts & Culture will host an array of exhibitions—some drawn from Nicolas Berggruen’s personal collection—as well as installations, symposia, and an artist-in-residence program that will foster the creation of art in Venice.
Palazzo Diedo will open officially in 2024, concurrent with the Biennale.
A PROJECT IN
“It’s an extraordinary honor to be chosen as the first artist in residence at Berggruen Arts & Culture, to work with the Palazzo Diedo, and to be a part of Nicolas’s ambitious vision. As the building is restored over the next few years, the installation I’ve imagined will change with it, expressing and also commenting on what it means to reclaim a building with so much history, and reflecting in a direct, material way the traditions of artmaking and craft that are so much a part of Venice.” - Sterling Ruby, artist-in-residence.
HEX, a new sculpture and the first phase of Sterling Ruby’s A Project in Four Acts, cuts across the façade of Palazzo Diedo, interrupting the classical architecture with a sense of precarity. Influenced by the spatial relations of Constructivism, the components balance on a vector, nodding to the prominence of assemblage in Ruby’s mobile and collage works. The title references “hex signs” — the geometric, hand-painted, star emblems appearing on the sides of Pennsylvanian Dutch barns starting in the early nineteenth century. While some interpret these symbols as protection against the supernatural, most attribute these as abstract images of celestial order, representing an agricultural interest in the stars as an expression of the annual progression of the seasons. Ruby regularly encountered these signs growing up in rural Pennsylvania, drawing upon their primary color palettes and geometric configurations for this sculpture. Composed of objects including a rusted box truck frame and recycled steel pipes from Los Angeles, along with a beaming red circle and a bright yellow flag, HEX faces outwards as a similar sort of badge for the palazzo.
Palazzo Diedo is the second historic building that the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust has acquired in Venice, following the purchase of Casa dei Tre Oci on the Giudecca as the principal European base for the Berggruen Institute. In April and June 2022, Berggruen Arts & Culture will present a series of artist conversations in partnership with ArtReview at Casa dei Tre Oci. Berggruen Arts & Culture will also undertake activities such as exhibitions, discussions, lectures, and residencies at sites beyond Palazzo Diedo and Casa dei Tre Oci, such as Museum Berggruen in Berlin and the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles.
Palazzo Diedo was built in the early 1700s by architect Andrea Tirali for the Diedo family, who arrived in Venice in 790 from Altino. The Diedo family occupied an important place in the history of Venice for centuries. Vincenzo Diedo was appointed patriarch of Venice in 1556 by Pope Paul IV and served in that role until 1560. Other members of this aristocratic family served in prominent functions: as military commanders, an ambassador, a bishop, and a senator.
Located in the heart of Cannaregio, the large, three- floor palazzo is noted for its position, surrounded by the Rio di Santa Fosca, the Rio Grimani and the Rio del Trapolin, with the Rio della Maddalena running past the front of the building. The façade features two piano nobili with seven large windows on each level. Interior ceilings feature frescos from noted Venetian artists, including Francesco Fontebasso and Costantini Cedini.
The city of Venice acquired Palazzo Diedo in 1888. The building served as an elementary school for decades, with generations of students in Cannaregio learning to read, write and do arithmetic in the classrooms of Palazzo Diedo. In 1989, the palazzo was assigned to Ministry of Justice, and it served as the Tribunale di sorveglianza from 1993 until 2012.
Andrea Tirali was a noted Italian architect whose work can be seen throughout Venice and the Veneto in Piazza San Marco, the chapel of St. Dominic in the Basilica of Saints Giovanni e Paolo, the portico of Vincenzo Scamozzi’s San Nicolò di Tolentina, the façade of S Vidal, and the Ponte dei Tre Archi.
July 9, 2022
Sterling Ruby in conversation with Berggruen Arts Artistic Director Mario Codognato.
Doors Open: 7 PM; Program Begins: 7:30 PM
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