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Biennale

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The Venice Biennale, a periodical large-scale cultural event founded in 1895, served as an archetype of the biennales. Meant to become a World Fair focused on contemporary art, the Venice Biennale used as a pretext the wedding anniversary of the Italian king and followed up to several national exhibitions organised after Italy unification in 1861. The Biennale immediately put forth issues of city marketing, cultural tourism and urban regeneration, as it was meant to reposition Venice on the international cultural map after the crisis due to the end of the Grand Tour model and the weakening of the Venetian school of painting. Furthermore, the Gardens where the Biennale takes place were an abandoned city area that needed to be re-functionalised. In cultural terms, the Biennale was meant to provide on a biennial basis a platform for discussing contemporary art practices that were not represented in fine arts museums at the time. The early Biennale model already included some key points that are still constitutive of large-scale international art exhibitions today: a mix of city marketing, internationalism, gentrification issues and destination culture, and the spectacular, large scale of the event.

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