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Taking Venice

by Amei Wallach
USA, 2023, 98’
Production: Andrea Miller, Tal Mandil, Vanessa Bergonzoli, Amei Wallach
Editing: Rob Tinworth
Music: Chee Wai Tay
At the height of the Cold War, the US government was determined to fight Communism through culture as well. Amei Wallach’s film tells the story of the United States’ participation in the 1964 Venice Biennale, manipulated by the government and a group of influential insiders so that Robert Rauschenberg, the artist of their choice, could win the Grand Prix. The artist, with his assemblages of street objects and images of pop culture, had the potential to amaze. As in a Hollywood thriller, with clever maneuvers, the group, including the powerful gallery owner Leo Castelli, let the international press cry scandal over that bold production, and Rauschenberg wondered about the politics of nationalism that involved him.
Amei Wallach is an award-winning art critic, filmmaker, and television commentator. In her articles, books, media appearances – and more recently in her films – Wallach has chronicled, and known, artists from Willem de Kooning and Lee Krasner to Jasper Johns and Shirin Neshat. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Art in America, and ARTnews.
Selected Filmography
2008 Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine; 2013 Ilya ed Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here.