Apollo Magazine

Peacockery – the male artists vying for attention at the Venice Biennale

Rakewell finds that Cecilia Alemani’s focus on women artists at the Venice Biennale is ruffling a few feathers among the males of the species

The artist Anselm Kiefer creating his site-specific installation site-specific installation in the Palazzo Ducale’s Sala dello Scrutinio in Venice. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo credit Georges Poncet. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Rakewell has always enjoyed the company of women. One of Rakewell’s great pleasures upon visiting Venice was how we could so easily be surrounded by feminine charms. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Venice right now as the Biennale exhibition, ‘The Milk of Dreams’, places women at the centre of creative practice.

So imagine our surprise when Rakewell idly wandered through that most beautiful of central squares Piazza San Marco to discover not only that some of the city’s more charming feminine delights were developing rivals, but that the rivalry should come from a very particular type of man. For festooning the piazza were posters not only for Anselm Kiefer’s new exhibition at the Doge’s Palace, but also Antony Gormley’s new exhibition with Lucio Fontana and even Marc Quinn’s show at Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It’s almost like they were worried about all this feminine attention and wanted to get in on the act.

Just in case this doesn’t look like a trend, Rakewell should remind you that Anish Kapoor is only a short skip away in the Academia, while Markus Lüpertz has a rather wonderful exhibition in the Palazzo Loredan.

While the official line is that we are ‘re-centering’ women in the story of art and creativity, it’s beginning to feel a little bit like the men don’t want to leave the spotlight. A feeling not helped by the fact that all of the works for these men’s Venice shows seem to be of the somewhat larger variety, all demanding their own brand of attention.

Rakewell would never want to encourage anyone to slink out of the way of a public statement too quietly, but we can’t help but feel that this is some crossfire Rakewell would rather not be caught up in, especially as, right now, we seem unable to get Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ out of our head.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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