Venice Biennale d’Arte a Tour in Three Parts by Lee Klein: Part 3


Once outside of the Punta della Doganna there was Charles Ray’s huge “Boy with Frog” which has been standing at the forefront of this new/old restored/restauro space since 2009.  A policeman was right up at it chatting away on his cellphone…..  so this did nothing to lessen the atmosphere of the casually bizarre that this wonderful circus is known to produce and here at least not via a visual atrocity.
My real drive to arrive back here with my last frequent flier miles inherited from my father (with whom I voyaged to Venice once in a torture almost as severe as dealing wth the publisher of this article) was besides William Beckley’s reading of his heartbreaking eulogy set on the Lido and in theme with Thomas Mann’s  shattering ”Death in Venice” to his great friend Dennis Oppenheim at the recreation of my “Literary Life series” at the National Arts club in February was to catch myself in the act of measuring Julian Schnabel up against Cy Twombly , Gerhard Richter and Anselm Keifer, perhaps as one would go into the landing before a stairwell in the cavity of Manhattan building with a cubic ruler to measure those creatures who have flown into the structure’s side, dead birds.
I like the person the undefinable uncategorizable unkempt megalomanic who would ask my passengers on the tourist bus on which this writer was narrating what they thought of me.    I find that this artist when he is good he is very very good and in an instance or two great, but when he is bad he is superbad.  Here it was the Museo Correr the grand staircase huge tarpulins hanging down in the first gallery and the atemporal breeze through the beautifully symetried main gallery (which had served the late Lucien Freud so well in 2007), attempting to get a hold here minus any sense of chronological order on the Proteus the exhibit this was an apparatus in effect for this artist to become
I wanted to love this… I wanted to find the tricks…. But, the case could not be made except for the huge canvases of surfers in the grand stairchamber leading up to the palace that the Schnabel would take on Italian braggodocio like a stage role like Mark Kostabi and marry it to his own while declaring to this exhibition’s curator in prior memory of Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibit, Norman Rosenthal in the catalogue that he owned the white mark in painting.
Albeit there were beautiful canvases such as the plate portrait of Azzendine Alaia and a spraypainted swan, though, whereas it took the London retropsective of Cy Twombly for this writer to get it and Moma’s Robert Storr Richter spectacular for this to become that (and to take away just what a chill the German can produce in en total), this was like that finished Campari cocktail bittersweet this wasn’t –Buona Notte… Buono Sera.. And John Farris “it is about time” not only for Steve to stop smoking but for us to check if the locks on the temporary hotel security deposit boxes have been broken… We cannot leave our emotional baggage there overnight.  And sure enough I saw a dead man at the check in for Lufthansa at Marco Polo airport and then for the first time ever Venice from the sky.
Lee Klein, 2011