A new commission by Barbara Kruger for the V-A-C Foundation's Palazzo delle Zattere gallery in Venice (Photo: courtesy of the artist, Sprüth Magers and Mary Boone Gallery)
Another influential foreign patron is building an art empire in Venice, joining the ranks of the French luxury goods tycoon François Pinault and the Italian fashion giant Miuccia Prada. The Russian gas billionaire Leonid Mikhelson is launching a gallery in the 19th-century Palazzo delle Zattere with a show of Soviet and contemporary art during the opening week of the Venice Biennale (Space Force Construction, 13 May-25 August). Mikhelson’s Moscow-based V-A-C Foundation will run the new space, which will host two temporary exhibitions a year.
The gallery will be free to enter, unlike Pinault’s two Venetian museums, the Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, and the Prada Foundation space, Ca’ Corner della Regina. “All of our exhibitions and activities at Palazzo delle Zattere will continue to be free of charge and open to everyone,” says Teresa Iarocci Mavica, the V-A-C Foundation’s Italian-born director.
The foundation, which Mikhelson established in 2009, has organised annual exhibitions in Venice since 2010. Mavica says that the Palazzo delle Zattere will not house its own collection of international and Russian contemporary art. “It will be a more permanent space for us to be able to continue our work with new generations of artists in Russia and worldwide, offering them an international platform on which to produce and show their work,” she says. A spokeswoman declined to discuss the future programme.