La Biennale at 50

A survey of painting

Even though the Venice Biennale has long devoted substantial space to new works in film, dance, theater, and music, it's been the visual arts that have commanded all the attention. This year is no different: One of the main exhibitions of the Biennale's 50th installment (June 15-November 2) is Pittura/Painting, a survey of how painting has been lauded and disparaged at the Biennale from 1964, when Robert Rauschenberg was the surprise winner of the Grand Prize, to 2003, with the colorful antics of Takashi Murakami. In between, landmark canvases by Hockney, Warhol, Freud, Clemente, and Basquiat trace the trajectory from Pop to post-mod to parts unknown.