Published  01/06/2006

Palazzo grassi e grossi

The refurbishment of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice is taking a new turn. Once owned by Fiat, the Agnelli combine of the day made possible the superb, massively encyclopaedic celebration of Futurism, 'Futurismo & Futurismi' (1986) in the Palazzo, organised by Pontus Hulten, himself a giant among curators. Now the French collector, François Pinault, hiring Tadao Ando as architect, has infused the spaces as a setting fit for contemporary art. A tight commission, since the collection runs to 2,000 works. And Pinault's power extends to ownership of Christie's, and the Château Latour vineyard, among other delights. Now Jeff Koon has been persuaded to festoon the exterior of the building with an illuminated mesh of light elements. There are many more delights inside. However, those who all of 20 years ago experienced the dramatic poetry and power of Hulten's futurism are perhaps bound to ask, 'How did it all come to this?' The Futurists' comments, if they had been around, would have been exclamatory but unprintable, surely.

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