Genius Loci: Spirit of Place, Palazzo Franchetti, Venice, Italy

This summer the Lisson Gallery collaborates with Berengo Studio to present an exhibition that coincides with the occasion of the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice. The show examines the complex spheres of the public realm and the built environment, existing beyond the walls of the museum or gallery space. In this manner public art can help define the landscape it inhabits, functioning either harmoniously or in dialogue with its environment.

Genius Loci showcases a range of major pieces by 19 artists inside and outside the historic Venetian Palazzo Franchetti and includes projects by Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Lawrence Weiner and Lee Ufan amongst others. All these artists are noted for their significant contributions to art in the public domain through work that challenges, complements or elucidates their surroundings. The title of the exhibition is a Latin term used to describe the particular essence or spirit of a place. Work of this status might evoke the atmosphere of landscape or reflect our existence in other manners. Richard Long’s piece made with clay collected from a riverbank sits in juxtaposition to Tatsuo Miyajima’s installation on our increasingly digitised and networked realities.

Some of the work mirrors the structures found in cities, including Dan Graham’s glass and steel pavilions and the colourful, canopied walkways and striped interventions of Daniel Buren, whose pergolas provide shelter and an alternate entrance to this exhibition. Glass is also present in Shirazeh Houshiary’s work; towering and twisting sculpture in glass and aluminium that appear to link the earth to the heaven. The importance of glass as a material in this exhibition is underlined by works by Joana Vasconcelos, Tokujin Yoshioka and Koen Vanmechelen produced with the Berengo Studio, which has been inviting contemporary artists to engage with glass at its studio on the nearby island of Murano for over 20 years.

Most of the work in this exhibition are gallery-scaled but a survey of the Lisson Gallery’s involvement in public art commissions demonstrates how these works relate to those produced for the public realm. The room showcasing this installation was designed by the London-based architectural practice Carmody Groarke and presents documentation covering major outdoor projects including Kapoor’s famous Cloud Gate for the new Millennium Park in Chicago and Spencer Finch’s use of 700 individually coloured panes of glass for the High Line in New York.

Genius Loci – Spirit of Place, until 23 November, Palazzo Franchetti, S. Marco, 2842, 30124 Venice,

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1. Tony Cragg: Hedge, (2010) Fiberglass, 200 x 380 x 150 cm