All hands up for Arnulf Rainer – great art(ist) in Venice

Hands up who likes Arnulf Raine!

Austrian abstract artist Arnulf Rainer is emblazoning the Venice Biennale 2011 with his art, continuing his 33 year association with the famed Venice art event.

Born in 1929 in Baden, Austria, Rainer has received international acclaim for his works that have evolved, and continue to evolve, throughout his prolific career.

Rainer’s work is often categorised as Abstract Informal art. Like a gnarly tree, his body of work has stemmed from an initial Surrealism influence. He then branched out into a series of directions, commencing with a Destruction phrase before getting very real with works on post-bombed Hiroshima.

Arnulf Raine - distorting images of faces to create great expressive works of art

A crucifix fixation led Rainer to create a series of large crosses in various styles, decorated in diverse ways.

Arnulf Raine gets cross

In the ‘70s, Rainer turned to a new medium to his work ? drugs, which led to the creation of a series of distorted faces and twisted bodies, manipulating the human form, pictures of faces in various expressions distorted or altered, exalting the emotions. Many times, the face was Rainer’s own, in his collection of expressive self-portraits.

Arnulf Raine self-portrait

Despite live subjects being the focus of many of his pieces, an undercurrent of death runs through many of his works, few more so than with Rainer’s creation of a series of death masks, which also continued his fixation on altering images.

Arnulf Raine death mask
Arnulf Raine distorting images to create emotive art

Despite leaving his own university studies early on, Rainer became a professor of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1981 to 1995.

A dedicated Arnulf Rainer museum was opened in New York in 1993, with other works also being displayed in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
Presently, Arnulf Rainer is working with the Palazzo Bembo exhibition as part of La Biennale di Venezia2011.

The Palazzo Bembo was built by the noble Bembo family in the 15th century, on the Grand Canal. Right near the Rialto Bridge, the iconic building blends Byzantine with Venetian styling,  adding a touch of Gothic for good measure. The family boasts a cardinal and Doge of Venice amongst its important history.

The Palazzo Bembo Venice Biennale exhibition is organised by the Dutch Non-profit Organization GlobalArtAffairs Foundation, in cooperation with curators Karlyn De Jongh and Sarah Gold, the curators write, ‘The observation that even in the most distant places of the world artists are occupied with Time ? Space and Existence led to the idea of brining several of these artists together in publications, symposia and exhibitions this exhibition at Palazzo Bembo is part of the international art project PERSONAL STRUCTURES, which was initiated in 2002 by the Dutch artist Rene Rietmeyer.

Palazzo Bembo - uniting artists in publications, symposia and exhibitions

‘PERSONAL STRUCTURES as part of the 54th Veniceiennale, presents solo-presentations by 28 artists from 5 continents, representing 12 countries. The participating artists have their roots in diverse cultures and have very different ages. What they have in common is a dedication of the concepts Time ? Space and Existence. These subjects are highlighted not only in very personal ways but also from unusual points of view.’

Other artists participating along with Marina Abramovi? include Carl Andre (US), Herman de Vries (NL), Toshikatsu Endo (JP), Johannes Girardoni (US), Peter Halley (US), Joseph Kosuth (US), Melissa Kretschmer (US), Lee Ufan (KR), Ma Jun (CN), Tony Matelli (US), Judy Millar (NZ), Tatsuo Miyajima (JP), François Morellet (FR), Hermann Nitsch (AT), Roman Opalka (FR), Thomas Pihl (NO), Miriam Prantl (AT), Andrew Putter (ZA), Arnulf Rainer (AT), Rene Rietmeyer (NL), Yuko Sakurai (JP), Sasaki (JP), SEO (KR), Lawrence Weiner (US), Maik Wolf (DE), Xing Xin (CN), Zou Cao (CN).

Artviva is proud to be offering exclusive guided tours with the Palazzo Bembo artists . Meet the artists at the Biennale di Venezia to explore the Palazzo Bembo and the pavilion area of the Giardino as well as the Arsenale in around 3 hours of tour accompanied by a Palazzo Bembo artist.

Close art encounters and personal insights. A Venice Biennale art tour like no other, see and experience the top highlights of the Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale is the oldest and most important as well as the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. It is vast and can take days to see the massive array of works on display. Not only have we selected the top highlights (saving you time) but you get to see and experience the Venice biennale with talented curators and artists exhibiting. No other tour company can offer this kind of personal encounter or insight into the Venice Biennale.

Sincere thanks for the generous support and dedication to access to contemporary art provided by the internationally renowned Palazzo Bembo Personal Structures curators and artists. Without them this program would not be possible.

This unique experience is also offered as a private tour with a Palazzo Bembo artist.

We also have this unique art encounter with artists from the Venice Biennale included as part of a Venice tours package ? The Best of Venice and the Venice Biennale in Two Days.

Experience the best highlights and must-sees of Venice and the greatest art show on earth, the Venice Biennale in just two days.

Along with the Palazzo Bembo artist tour, we have 4 great tours added into one unique Venice tours package covering the historic through to the contemporary.

In one glorious afternoon, have a ride in a gondola on our small-group Original Gondola Tour.

Visit San Marco ? St Mark’s ? on a guided tour and have our expert tour guide take you on a tour of the Doge’s Palace.

Conclude your day with a relaxing ride on the Grand Canal in a tradition Motoscafo water boat on the small-group Grand Canal tour.

These Venice tours are part of our super-discounted Grand Italy Tour discounted tour package including small-group tours in Rome and small-group tours in Florence.  Email us to add on the Palazzo Bembo experience.

For more information about Artviva Walking Tours, see or contact us at

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  1. …….The Venice Biennale also called in English the Venice Biennial is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in odd years in Venice Italy ……………………………….

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