A “cathedral” dedicated to modern art and divided between two iconic Venetian locations: – welcome to Palazzo Grassi (Grassi Palace) and Punta della Dogana – conceived by the prolific French collector Francois Pinault. First to open its doors in 2006 was Grassi Palace and, later in 2009, Punta della Dogana, after it was attentively restored by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The mission was to publically show Pinault’s impressive works while presenting important single and collective exhibitions.
The two locations are specifically dedicated to contemporary works and for this reason they are essential landmarks for enthusiasts of modern art. On offer are fully formed collections which reflect the personalities of both curator and collector, who over years have developed priveleged relationships with the artists, and they in turn, have created works especially conceived for the magnifcant spaces of Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana.
Any visit should start at the heart of the collection, which is without question found in Grassi Palace/Palazzo Grassi (at Campo San Samuele, 3231, 30124 Venice). The museum is open 6 days a week from 10am to 7pm and closed on Tuesdays. A ticket to enter only Palazzo Grassi costs 15 euro or 20 euro to cover entry also into Punta della Dogana (which shares the same opening hours) .
Palazzo Grassi, right on the Grand Canal, was designed in 1748 by Giorgio Massari and comes complete with magnificant frescoes by Michelangelo, Giovanni Morlaiter, Francesco Zanchi, Giambattista Canal and Christian Griepenkerl. In 1951, having passed through the hands of the Grassi family as well as numerous other owners, the Palace became an International Centre for arts and costumes. In 1983, Gianni Agnelli’s auto company Fiat bought the Palace as a venue to stage grand exhibitions, but only after it had been re-designed by Italian architect Gae Aulenti. Finally, in 2005, Francois Pinault bought the Palace to house his immense collection of modern art and thereby allowing the public to appreciate it for the first time.
Palazzo Grassi isn’t only home to figurative art. In 2013 the Teatrino (little theatre) opened as a space to showcase a wide selection of innovative events.
On the opposite shore of the Grand Canal you’ll find Punta della Dogana (at Dorsoduro, 2, 30123 Venice) which is the second location chosen by Pinault to exhibit his collection. This part of Venice appears almost as a triangle of land which divides the Grand and Giudecca Canals. Until the 1980s it was actually used as a customs station for the city. In the 20 years after it closed, the space fell into disuse until the Council of Venice announced a bidding process aimed at the creation of a new Museum for Modern Art. Pinault and his collection won the bid and in 2009 Punta della Dogana was re-opened to present both temporary and permanent showings.
From April 9, 2017, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana host the English artist Damian Hirst’s latest exhibition, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”.