In the most recent of his initiatives to encourage the work of today’s artists, deepen the connection between contemporary art and the past, and make art more widely accessible to the public, philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen today announced the creation of Berggruen Arts & Culture and the acquisition of the historic Palazzo Diedo by the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust in Venice’s Cannaregio district, which is being restored and renovated to serve as a base for this multi-faceted, international program and its activities in Venice and around the world.
“As someone with a deep love of Venice, I have wished for a long time to provide a place where art can be inspired by this city and created in the city. We are thrilled to now realize this dream by renovating the Palazzo Diedo—a magnificent building long associated with one of Venice’s historic families—and making it accessible to the broad public as a base for the wider Berggruen Arts & Culture initiative. We look forward to seeing innovative artists from the city itself and around the world come to Palazzo Diedo to make new work and put forth new ideas, returning Venice to its eminence as a site of artistic creation.”Nicolas Berggruen
At Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture will host an array of exhibitions—some drawn from Nicolas Berggruen’s personal collection—as well as installations, symposia, and an artist-in-residence program that will foster the creation of art in Venice. To bring the palazzo to life during the renovation phase and make its new role visible to the public, Berggruen Arts & Culture has named Sterling Ruby as its inaugural artist-in-residence. Ruby will create A Project in Four Acts, a multi-year installation at Palazzo Diedo, with the first element debuting on April 20, 2022, and on view through the duration of the 59th Biennale Arte.
“It’s an extraordinary honour to be chosen as the first artist in residence at Berggruen Arts & Culture, to work with the Palazzo Diedo, and to be a part of Nicolas’s ambitious vision. As the building is restored over the next few years, the installation I’ve imagined will change with it, expressing and also commenting on what it means to reclaim a building with so much history, and reflecting in a direct, material way the traditions of artmaking and craft that are so much a part of Venice.”Sterling Ruby
Internationally renowned contemporary art curator Mario Codognato, who has served as chief curator of MADRE in Naples and director of the Anish Kapoor Foundation in Venice, has been named the artistic director of Berggruen Arts & Culture. Venetian architect Silvio Fassi is overseeing the renovation of the palazzo, which will open officially in 2024, concurrent with the Biennale di Venezia.
“After spending so much of my career away from the city where I was born and the place that formed me, I am excited to be in Venice again, joining Nicolas Berggruen in creating this new creative centre that is so full of promise. With Nicolas, I believe in art that speaks to the public, challenges us to think anew, and sparks discussions—and I believe in Venice as a city that has not only a past but also a future as one of the world’s great crossroads of art and ideas.”Mario Codognato
The first phase of Ruby’s A Project in Four Acts will be a relief structure that leans across the façade of the building, remaining on view through November 2022. As the construction commences, Ruby will stage two exterior installations through the end of 2022 and late spring of 2023, responding to the structure and enclosing it as it transforms. The final phase will include a residency concluding with an exhibition at Palazzo Diedo, which will be part of the official opening in spring 2024.
Nicolas Berggruen’s initiatives in the visual arts and culture have spanned the traditional and the experimental. As a representative of a family that is legendary in the field of 20th-century European art, he has been instrumental in expanding the programming and curatorial autonomy of the Museum Berggruen, which has been a component of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin since 2000. As founder of the Berggruen Institute, he has spearheaded the expansion of the Institute with a presence in Los Angeles, Beijing, and Venice. He has supported Institute-led projects pairing leading contemporary artists including Anicka Yi, Ian Cheng, Rob Reynolds, Agnieszka Kurant, Pierre Huyghe, and Nancy Baker Cahill with researchers in artificial intelligence and biology, to create works exploring our changing ideas of what it means to be human.
Palazzo Diedo is the second historic building that the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust has acquired in Venice, following the purchase of Casa dei Tre Oci on the Giudecca as the principal European base for the Berggruen Institute. In April and June 2022, Berggruen Arts & Culture will present a series of artist conversations in partnership with ArtReview at Casa dei Tre Oci. Berggruen Arts & Culture will also undertake activities such as exhibitions, discussions, lectures, and residencies at sites beyond Palazzo Diedo and Casa dei Tre Oci, such as Museum Berggruen in Berlin and the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles.
About the artist
Sterling Ruby (American/Dutch, b. 1972) is a leading contemporary artist whose work has been presented in solo exhibitions through the globe. Known for the multifaceted nature of his practice, his work encompasses painting, ceramics, collage, video and photography, textiles, sculpture and installations. Working in a wide range of media, from the traditional to the unconventional, Ruby has created an oeuvre that, while remarkably diverse, is firmly rooted within a complex and coherent artistic strategy. His practice involves a combination of philosophical enquiry and material investigation, the latter involving the seemingly endless repurposing, combining and recombining of different techniques and media.
Ruby received his B.F.A. in 2002 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, and his M.F.A. in 2005 from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Public collections include the Guggenheim Museum, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; MoMA, NY; MoCA, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; MoCA, Los Angeles; LACMA, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; SFMOMA, San Francisco; MMFA, Montreal; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek; and Tate Modern, London.
A native of Venice, Mario Codognato has served as the chief curator of MADRE since it opened in Naples in 2005. In this capacity, he has curated retrospectives of Jannis Kounellis (2006), Rachel Whiteread (2007), Thomas Struth (2008) and Franz West (2010) among others. He has previously worked at the contemporary art project at the Archeological Museum in Naples, where he has curated the exhibitions of Francesco Clemente (2002), Jeff Koons (2003), Anish Kapoor (2003), Richard Serra (2004), Anselm Kiefer (2004) and the first museum retrospective of Damien Hirst (2004). Since 1999 he has curated the site-specific public projects for Piazza Plebiscito in Naples, including Robert Rauschenberg (1999), Joseph Kosuth (2001), Sol Lewitt (2005), Jenny Holzer (2006), Jan Fabre (2008) and Carsten Nicolai (2009). He has curated exhibitions for other institutions and written their catalogue essays on the work of Alighiero Boetti (1992 and 1999), Richard Long (1994 and 1997), Gilbert & George (1998), Jan Fabre (1999), Brice Marden (2001), Wolfgang Laib (2005), Candida Hoeffer (2013), Douglas Gordon (2017) and Ed Ruscha (2019). He has curated several thematic exhibitions, Barock at MADRE in 2009 and Fragile? at the Cini Foundation in Venice in 2013. From 2014 to 2016 he was chief curator at the 21er Haus of the Belvedere in Vienna, where his shows include retrospective exhibitions of Olafur Eliasson, Tomas Saraceno and Sterling Ruby, and the exhibition “Sleepless” on the history and role of the bed in art. Latest projects include Anish Kapoor at Macro in Rome (2017), Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall in Norfolk (2018) and Galleria Borghese in Rome (2021), and Georg Baselitz at the Museum Palazzo Grimani in Venice (2021). Since 2016, Codognato has been the director of the Anish Kapoor Foundation.
Nicolas Berggruen is the Founder and Chairman of the Berggruen Institute and has spearheaded its growth, establishing its presence in Los Angeles, Beijing, and Venice. Focusing on great transformations in the human condition brought on by factors such as climate change, the restructuring of global economics and politics, and advances in science and technology, the Institute seeks to connect and develop ideas in the human sciences to the pursuit of practical improvements in governance across cultures, disciplines, and political boundaries.
Committed to visual arts and architecture, Nicolas Berggruen has newly established Berggruen Arts & Culture, a multifaceted initiative developing and presenting programs internationally. He has commissioned Herzog & de Meuron to design the hilltop scholars’ campus for Berggruen Institute in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles, has acquired and is renovating Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice as the European base of Berggruen Institute, and has acquired and is renovating the Palazzo Diedo in Venice as a base for Berggruen Arts & Culture. He has helped expand the autonomy of Museum Berggruen in Berlin as a component of the Nationalgalerie and has encouraged the creation of new work by contemporary artists including Anika Yi, Ian Cheng, Rob Reynolds, Nancy Baker Cahill, and Sterling Ruby at the Berggruen Institute. He has also collaborated on projects with renowned architects including David Adjaye and Shigeru Ban.
Nicolas Berggruen sits on the boards of the Museum Berggruen, Berlin, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He is a member of the International Councils for Tate, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fondation Beyeler, Basel; and of the President’s International Council for The J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles.
Mr. Berggruen is co-author with Nathan Gardels of Renovating Democracy: Governing in the Age of Globalization and Digital Capitalism (University of California Press) and Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century, a Financial Times Book of the Year, and is co-publisher of Noema Magazine. Nicolas Berggruen is Chairman of Berggruen Holdings, the investment vehicle of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust.