Venice Biennale Program: Highlights of the SACI summer course in Venice

SACI Contemporary Art: Biennale and Beyond instructor, Richard Ingersoll, with SACI student at the Venice Biennale

SACI Contemporary Art: Biennale and Beyond instructor, Richard Ingersoll, with SACI student at the Venice Biennale

SACI’s Venice Biennale Program 2015

The SACI Summer 2015 Venice Biennale Program is quickly coming to a close. Here are some highlights of the inaugural edition of the program enjoyed by SACI students who were in Venice this month. This program provides an exceptional opportunity for students to take part in one of the world’s most famous and prestigious contemporary art events — the Venice Biennale. Founded in 1895, the Biennale focuses on cutting-edge contemporary artistic practice and is at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends. This year’s 56th Biennale is curated by Okwui Enwezors, who asks: How can the current disquiet of our time be properly grasped, made comprehensible, examined, and articulated?

SACI students have explored this question by participating in two courses: Contemporary Art History: Biennale and Beyond and Digital Photography. 

This unique 6-credit program (also open to non-credit students) enables students to tour the numerous All the World’s Futures Biennale exhibitions, including visits to the exhibitions of Joan Jonas at the US Pavilion, Sarah Lucas at the UK Pavilion, “Masters of the 1970s” at the Italian Pavilion, and many more. Students also visit Venice’s great museums and travel to the lovely islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello and to the nearby historic city of Padua.

On-Site Program Director Jacopo Santini leads students on photo shoots throughout Venice and during field trips, including La Casa dei Tre Oci on the island of Giudecca, and instructs students in Photoshop, Camera Raw, and other editing programs. Students are encouraged to combine an artist’s eye with their technical knowledge to create photographic records about a city that has been “written on water.” The goal is to develop each student’s personal vision, a consciousness of photography as a language, and to create portfolios of the highest quality.

Art historian Richard Ingersoll guides students to Biennale sites and Venice museums and foundations (Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, both part of the Pinault Foundation, the Prada Foundation, and the Querini Stampalia Foundation). In addition to learning about the history of the Venice Biennale, students visit exhibitions at the Biennale’s Central Pavilion, Arsenale (dockyard), Giardini (gardens), and National Pavilions, as well as exhibitions held at external venues in characteristic Venetian palaces and churches throughout the city.


Contemporary Art: Biennale and Beyond with Richard Ingersoll
Students visit with the instructor a broad array of Venice Biennale exhibits and together explore the rich cultural and artistic milieu of Venice through visits to public museums, private foundations, galleries, and artists’ ateliers.  Most class sessions are conducted on site so that students can experience directly both historical and contemporary artworks.  Instruction will focus not only on aesthetic considerations inherent in these works, but on the contexts, whether social, political, economic, or theoretical, within which they were created and are now perceived.  Students tour the Arsenale and Giardini as well as other art venues within the city and investigate both the relationship between Venice and the Biennale and the role of the Biennale as a historic and contemporary phenomenon.

Digital Photography with Jacopo Santini
Using Venice as both studio and stage, students undertake intensive study of color and black-and-white digital photographic techniques. Frequent photo shoots are combined with lectures on photo history and aesthetics, visits to Biennale exhibits, and field trips to Padua and the lovely nearby islands of Burano, Murano, and Torcello. Students will be instructed in Photoshop, Camera Raw and other editing programs.  They will be encouraged to combine an artist’s eye with their technical knowledge to create photographic records about a city that, perhaps more than any other, has been “written on water.” Particular attention is paid to development of narrative cohesion in each student’s work through weekly class critiques and individual meetings. Course work will be aimed at developing personal vision and creating portfolios of the highest quality.

To see more images, go to SACI’s Venice Biennale Flickr album. All photos by Jacopo Santini.

SACI logo

About SACI

SACI is a US non-profit College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, for undergraduate and graduate students seeking accredited instruction in studio art, design, conservation, art history, and Italian language and culture. Founded in 1975, SACI offers the following programs: Academic Semester/Year Abroad, Summer Studies, Venice Summer Program, Post-Bac in Conservation, MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: