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New Zealand shines at 2013 Venice Biennale

5 Dec 2013

This content is tagged as Creative NZ .


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New Zealand’s pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale attracted a record 218,000 visitors during its six-month exhibition, Creative New Zealand announced today. Front Door Out Back, Bill Culbert’s dazzling light installations in the New Zealand pavilion, drew close to 2,000 visitors a day during the opening week alone.

The exhibition also gained praise from the art press, critics and collectors alike. London’s Sunday Times’ art critic Waldermar Januszczak named Front Door Out Back his pick of the 2013 Biennale, while ArtInfo wrote of Culbert: “His place in the history books should be reappraised and this stunning pavilion could well do just that’’.

New Zealand’s Commissioner for the 2013 Biennale and Director of Christchurch Art Gallery, Jenny Harper, was delighted with the response to this year’s presentation: “Each time we go to Venice, we add to a subtle but strong impression of the variety and excellence of visual art made by New Zealanders.  The benefits of participation on this international stage have a habit of flowing on through cultural and economic food chains.  And Christchurch Art Gallery is pleased to have secured the delightful and uplifting work Bebop to show in the foyer when we re-open in 2015.”

“Bill’s exhibition has attracted hugely positive responses nationally and internationally,” said Arts Council Chairman, Dr Dick Grant. ‘’While visitor numbers are just one measure of success, it is pleasing to see so many people engaged with the work.’’

A total of 1,163 visitors completed Creative New Zealand’s audience survey at the New Zealand Pavilion. Of these, 84% had never visited a New Zealand exhibition in Venice before.  As a result of their visit, 78% were interested or curious to experience more New Zealand contemporary art and 72% rated the exhibition either above average or excellent.

The 2013 Biennale closed on 24 November, with news from la Biennale di Venezia that they will exceed 475,000 visitors to the 55th International Art Exhibition, an increase of 8% on 2011’s total of 440,000.

“The success of this exhibition shows that art is something we do together and is a part of many people's lives,” said la Biennale di Venezia artistic director Massimiliano Gioni.


  • The 2013 New Zealand pavilion, La Pietà, was located on Venice’s main tourist route between Piazza San Marco and the Giardini.
  • Founded in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the largest and most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world. More than 30,000 of the world’s leading curators, collectors and critics attend the three-day Vernissage (preview) alone.
  • The 2013 Venice Biennale ran for six months from May to November and featured 88 national pavilions. Ten countries were represented for the first time: Angola, Bahamas, Kingdom of Bahrain, Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, the Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, Maldives, Paraguay, Tuvalu and the Holy See.
  • New Zealand has exhibited at the Venice Biennale since 2001. Previous New Zealand artists who have exhibited are: Peter Robinson and Jacqueline Fraser (2001); Michael Stevenson (2003); et al. (2005); Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard (2009); Michael Parekowhai (2011).
  • Creative New Zealand’s investment in New Zealand’s presentation at the 2013 Venice Biennale was $650,000.
  • Read more about New Zealand’s 2013 Venice Biennale artist Bill Culbert
  • 2015 Venice Biennale runs from 9 May to 22 November. New Zealand’s selected artist is Simon Denny. Read more about Simon Denny
  • More information about New Zealand’s presentation at the 2013 Venice Biennale


For media enquiries, please contact:Rebecca Lancashire

Senior Communications Adviser

Creative New Zealand

 M +64 (0) 27 677 807