Lonely Planet review
Fortuna, the weathervane atop Punta della Dogana, swung Venice’s way in 2005, when bureaucratic hassles in Paris convinced billionaire art collector François Pinault to showcase his artworks in long-abandoned customs warehouses at Punta della Dogana. Here massive installations address deeply personal fixations, including Chen Zhen’s pure crystal versions of his diseased internal organs and Abdel Abdessemed’s drawings of Molotov-cocktail throwers propped on concert stands to create orchestrated violence.
The warehouses were originally built by Giuseppe Benoni in 1677 to ensure no ship entered the Grand Canal without paying duties. Re-opened in 2009 after a three-year reinvention by architect Tadao Ando, Venice’s splashiest art space pays its dues to the city’s seafaring history and its changing architecture. Ando cut windows in Benoni's ancient water gates to reveal cutaway views of passing ships, while his floating concrete staircases honour the innovations of Venetian modernist Carlo Scarpa. Pass through Ando's exposed-brick galleries into the concrete inner sanctum, where even Julie Mehretu's wall-sized map-drawings are upstaged by Ando's meditative minimalism.
Upstairs, don't miss Maurizio Cattelan's haunting All: nine shrouded marble figures laid out on the floor, like ghosts of Venice's plagued past. Not all works on display are intended for younger viewers, while others (Jeff Koons’ suspended steel-balloon heart, for example) may speak to them exclusively.