From school to art center: Palazzo Diedo’s new fate

It seems that historic buildings in Venice are not meant to be just big five star hotels. It is actually a moment of great liveliness in the world of art and private foundations that are increasingly interested in having a place at the forefront of the lagoon city, which is one of the world’s crossroads for art and culture.
To give just examples, the Didier Guillon Foundation Valmont has chosen the Palazzo Bonvicini as its headquarters from which to support artists and contemporary art; The Palazzo Vendramin Grimani in San Polo has become the seat of the Italian-French Foundation for the Golden Tree; in Cannaregio Palazzo Manfrin is the new seat of the foundation of the Anglo-Indian artist Anish Kapoor.

The latest acquisition in chronological order is the work of Nicolas Berggruen, Parisian philanthropist and art collector living in Los Angeles, founder of the Berggruen Institute, who since 2010 has worked on the themes of democracy, international politics and the 21st century global challenges After buying Casa dei Three Oci at Giudecca just a year and a half ago to make it the Berggruen Institute’s first European headquarters, the magnate has now also secured one of the most beautiful noble palaces in Venice, the Palazzo Diedo, in the Cannaregio. , to transform it into the seat of his composite and international project aimed at art: Berggruen Arts & Culture.

Venice. Palazzo Diedo is the new headquarters for Berggruen Arts & Culture

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In Rio della Maddalena

Built in the early eighteenth century as the residence of the important Diedo family, the palace overlooking the Rio della Maddalena is spread over 5 floors with a total area of ​​about 4000 square meters, two noble floors, an impressive number of windows and ceiling frescoes by Francesco Fontebasso and Costantino Cedini. For the last century, the Palazzo Diedo was for decades a primary school, where generations of Venetians learned to read and write, then it became the seat of the supervisory court. Now, in the hands of Nicolas Bergrruen, the new big challenge: to become the operational base of Berggruen Arts & Culture, with an articulated international program to promote artistic creation in Venice and around the world, hosting artists in residences, installations, symposia and temporary exhibitions as well as part of the golden philanthropist’s fantastic contemporary art collection.

The restorations have started and will require as conservative an intervention as possible of the eighteenth-century building protected by the Superintendent: Architect Silvio Fassi is leading the work, and all the workers are at work, fighting against time, because the inauguration of Palazzo Diedo, in its new form, was set for the spring of 2024, to coincide with the next art biennial.

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Mario Codognato

The artistic director of Berggruen Arts & Culture is Mario Codognato, an internationally recognized curator of contemporary art and in Venice also at the helm of the Anish Kapoor Foundation. It will be up to him to take care of the exhibitions at the Palazzo Diedo and the Berggruen collection, as well as any small exhibitions at the Casa dei Tre Oci. Adventure the first artist. The choice fell on the American / Dutch Sterling Ruby, who was given the task of giving life to the building in the renovation phase with an artist residence project that will be divided into four acts. is already visible to the public: Ruby has created a relief sculpture, HEX, which hangs from the façade of Palazzo Diedo. It is an installation consisting of recycled steel pipes, the rusty chassis of a truck, a huge red circle and a yellow flag, assembled in a way that goes back to the spatial conditions of constructivism. All materials came from Los Angeles, where Ruby has his studio, but then they have been adapted to the needs of the Venetian palace. two other installations on the external scaffolding that accompany the passage of time of the restorations. The last act of the project, on the other hand, will be a real exhibition of the works that Ruby will perform in the residence at Palazzo Diedo, which will probably cross her work with proposals from the masters of Murano glass and with Burano lace. The exhibition will be an integral part of the official inauguration of the palace in April 2024.

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