Welcome to His Palace: How Venice Biennale Curator Massimiliano Gioni Is Making Everything Work for Him
The Venice Biennale was the last place I expected to encounter the Hodag. If you attended elementary school in Wisconsin, as I did, you learned about this mythological monster, a hybrid frog-elephant-dinosaur with clawed feet and a spear-like tail. It resided, according to a late-19th-century hoax, in the city of Rhinelander, in the woodsy region that downstaters call “up north.” The Hodag is mentioned on a wall label in the Biennale, next to a cabinet full of woodcarvings—some of animals, others of fantastical beings—by Levi Fisher Ames, who toured his curious carvings around Wisconsin in the 1880s.
Mr. Ames is one of dozens of so-called outsider artists in “The Encyclopedic Palace,” the 55th edition of the Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, associate director at New York’s New Museum. “People might say it’s the thrift-store biennial,” he told The Observer in an interview in late April, “because there’s a lot of found material.” Like 387 model houses by the Austrian Peter Fritz (1916-92), found by two artists in a junk shop in 1993. Read More