What to see at the 2024 Venice Biennale

CNNThis week sees the opening of the Venice Biennale, an 8-month-long festival of art and culture staged every other year. For 2024 — the show’s 60th iteration — Brazilian curator Adriano Pedrosa has chosen the topic of “Foreigners Everywhere,” and announced an intention to spotlight artists from diverse and historically marginalized backgrounds.

The theme, Pedrosa explained in a statement, has a dual meaning: “First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners—they/we are everywhere,” he said. “Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always, truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.”

Seen by many as an opportunity to see some of the world’s best artists all in one place, the art biennale consists of three parts: A central show, housed in a series of sprawling industrial buildings; 88 national pavilions, most of which are located in the Giardini parkland area of the city; and finally, a series of satellite or “collateral” exhibitions and pop-up events dotted throughout the city.

With the main event running from April 20 to November 24 2024, here’s our pick of what to see if you’re headed to Venice.

“Willem de Kooning e l’Italia” — Willem de Kooning


One of the most revolutionary and influential artists of the 20th century, de Kooning is the subject of a major exhibition exploring his time in Italy in 1959 and 1969 and the impact it had on his work. Spanning the 1950s to the 1980s, the show will bring together around 75 works, making this the largest presentation of the artist ever organized in Italy.

Gallerie dell’Accademia

“City of Refuge III” — Berlinde De Bruyckere

Taking its title from a Nick Cave song of the same name, ”City of Refuge III” is the third in a series of exhibitions by Berlinde De Bruyckere thematizing art as a place of sanctuary and shelter. The sculptures and installations respond to the venue’s spiritual intensity (a 16th century Benedictine church on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore).

Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore

“Locks with Leaves and Swelling Buds” — Ewa Juszkiewicz


Juszkiewicz’s renditions of old portraits serve a rebellious purpose. The intentional covering of historical faces confronts the essence of portraiture, transforming the images into potent symbols of women’s struggles under patriarchy, unravelling the intricate threads of gender and identity and revealing a defiant spirit.

Palazzo Cavanis, Fondamenta Zattere Ai Gesuati

“Portraits in Life and Death” — Peter Hujar

One of the most important American photographers of the 20th century, Peter Hujar was a major figure in New York City’s avant-garde community during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, when he documented the artistic life of the city. This exhibition assembles all 41 of the photographs that Hujar included in the book “Portraits in Life and Death,” published in 1976.

Santa Maria della Pietà, Palazzo Cavanis Dorsoduro

“Breasts” — curated by Carolina Pasti


This exhibition showcases the works of over 30 emerging and established international artists (including Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas, Irving Penn) spanning the realms of painting, sculpture, photography, and film. Exploring how breasts have been understood and represented in art across cultures and traditions, it reflects on a range of themes from motherhood, empowerment and sexuality to body image and illness.

Palazzo Franchetti San Marco

“With My Eyes”

Works created with the participation of inmates from Giudecca women’s prison will form part of the exhibition presented by the Vatican at this year’s biennale which focuses on human rights and the experiences of those living on the margins of society.

A 12-minute video installation directed by actor Zoe Saldana and her director and producer husband Marco Perego around the concept of freedom features some of the inmates as actors and works by the late Corita Kent, American pop artist, activist and former Catholic nun, will be displayed in the cafeteria.

Maurizio Cattelan will also create a large outdoor installation for the presentation which Pope Francis is scheduled to visit on April 28.

Giudecca Women’s Prison

“Rise of the Sunken Sun” — Inuuteq Storch


This photography exhibition by Greenlandic artist Inuuteq Storch, curated by Louise Wolthers, marks the first time that the Danish Pavilion has showcased both a major exhibition by an artist from Greenland and a presentation dedicated to photography. Comprising of over 200 images, Storch’s overarching project aims “to tell the Greenlanders’ visual history, not seen through the visitors’ eyes, but through the Greenlanders’ own,” and combines historical and family photographs with contemporary images of everyday life in Greenland.

Danish Pavilion

“Listening All Night To The Rain” — John Akomfrah

Known for his art films and multi-screen video installations, John Akmofrah explores major issues including racial injustice, colonial legacies, diasporic identities, migration, memory and climate change with a renewed focus on the act of listening and sound. The exhibition — commissioned by the British Council — has been conceived as a single installation with eight interlocking and overlapping multi-screen sound and time-based works and encourages the idea of listening as activism.

British Pavilion

“A Journey to the Infinite” — Yoo Youngkuk


The first exhibition in Europe of one of Korea’s most influential artists, including many works never exhibited before outside Korea. Yoo Youngkuk lived through war and occupation, but created vibrant, soaring abstractions inspired by Korea’s natural landscape that influenced generations of Korean artists.

Fondazione Querini Stampalia

“The Rooted Nomad” — M.F. Husain

This immersive exhibition will examine the life and work of the modernist painter dubbed “India’s Picasso.” Celebrating his versatility as an artist, thinker and writer, the show juxtaposes his wooden toys, paintings, photographs, letters and snippets from his films with collages, letters and poetry that shaped his vision of India as a richly layered “cultural mosaic.”

Magazzini del Sale

“Net Making” — Co-curated by Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi

Two years into the Russian invasion, the Ukraine Pavilion will present a group show sharing similarities with the Biennale’s “Foreigner’s Everyone” theme. Showcasing a diverse range of voices responding to the effects of war, the exhibition title refers to the practice of citizens of all ages and backgrounds meeting to weave camouflage nets — a symbol of the collective resistance of everyday Ukrainians.

Ukraine Pavilion

“Neither Nor” — Ai Weiwei


This exhibition traces the creative career of Ai Weiwei, from 2006 to today, featuring a large selection of new works made between 2019 and 2023 using LEGO bricks alongside historical works made from porcelain, wood, marble, bamboo, and assemblages of different materials.

Galleria Continua, San Gimignano

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing”

Presented by the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation in advance of the city’s own biennale in October, “The Spirits of Maritime Crossing” brings together 15 artists from the Global South from countries such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore to explore themes of diaspora, displacement, and colonialism through the lens of ocean and sea travel. Spanning performance, painting, film and sculpture, the exhibition also draws parallels Venice and Bangkok, with the latter being known as the “Venice of the East” due to its network of canals (khlongs) where people live, work and travel on a daily basis.

Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana

“Odorama Cities” — Koo Jeong A

During the summer of 2023, Koo collected scent memories for “Odorama Cities” by asking people for their “scent memory of Korea.” More than 600 written statements were received in response, which were then translated into 17 distinct scents created specifically for the pavilion. Each will be experienced alongside installations including mirroring infinity symbols, two floating wooden möbius-shaped sculptures and a levitating, scent-diffusing bronze figure.

South Korean Pavilion

“The Arch within the Arc” — Rick Lowe

The first solo exhibition in Italy of Houston-based artist Rick Lowe takes place at Palazzo Grimani, home to a large collection of 16th-century Greek and Roman sculpture. Inspired by the surroundings, Lowe has created a series of paintings reflecting the aesthetic influence of ancient and pre-modern architecture alongside the urban planning of Venice and the experience of moving through the city and its waterways.

Museo di Palazzo Grimani