The Paris-born collector Nicolas Berggruen is expanding his empire in Venice, acquiring a second historic palace in the city—Palazzo Diedo in the Cannaregio district—which will be transformed into an exhibition venue and artist-in-residence space as part of the new Berggruen Arts & Culture initiative.
The US artist Sterling Ruby, selected as the inaugural artist-in-residence, will create a “multi-year installation” lasting until 2024 when the palace officially launches following renovations.
“At Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture will host an array of exhibitions—some drawn from Nicolas Berggruen’s personal collection—as well as installations, symposia and an artist-in-residence programme that will foster the creation of art in Venice,” a project statement says. Berggruen’s collection includes works by artists such as Jason Rhoades and Urs Fischer.
Last year, Berggruen acquired the historic Casa dei Tre Oci on the island of Giudecca, which will act as the European base for his cultural thinktank known as the Berggruen Institute. The prime piece of Venice real estate was acquired for the Berggruen Institute from the Fondazione di Venezia by the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust. Palazzo Diedo, built in the early 1700s by the architect Andrea Tirali for the Diedo family, was acquired by the city of Venice in 1888. The charitable trust in Berggruen’s name also acquired the three-storey Palazzo Diedo, which houses frescos by Venetian artists such as Francesco Fontebasso and Costantini Cedini. The acquisition cost is undisclosed.
Berggruen says in a statement: “We look forward to seeing innovative artists from the city itself and around the world come to Palazzo Diedo to make new work and put forth new ideas, returning Venice to its eminence as a site of artistic creation.” Mario Codognato, the former chief curator of Madre museum in Naples and director of the Anish Kapoor Foundation in Venice, has been named the artistic director of Berggruen Arts & Culture.
The first phase of Sterling Ruby’s A Project in Four Acts will be a relief structure that leans across the façade of the building, remaining on view until November to coincide with the Venice Biennale. “As the construction commences, Ruby will stage two exterior installations through the end of 2022 and late spring of 2023, responding to the structure and enclosing it as it transforms,” the project statement adds. The final phase will include a residency concluding with an exhibition at Palazzo Diedo, forming part of the official launch in spring 2024.
“As the building is restored over the next few years, the installation I’ve imagined will change with it, expressing and also commenting on what it means to reclaim a building with so much history, and reflecting in a direct, material way the traditions of artmaking and craft that are so much a part of Venice,” the artist says in a statement.
Nicolas Berggruen, the son of the late German dealer Heinz Berggruen, sits on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Berggruen Institute, located in a downtown Los Angeles venue, focuses “on four big issues: democracy, capitalism, geopolitics and globalisation, and the transformations of the human”, Berggruen says. The former UK prime minister Tony Blair sits on the institute’s governance group.