The new Pinault Contemporary Art Center at the Punta della Dogana opens on June 6th 2009.
The location: it is one of the most prominent places in Venice, the merging point of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal meters away from the memorial church of santa Maria della Salute.
In the days when Venice was a major commercial centre, the sea custom house controlled access to the Grand Canal and the San Marco docks.
The first sea custom house was built between 1313 and 1340, it was a triangular shaped structure made of eight parallel warehouses ending in a watch tower.
The area underwent a complete rebuilding in 17th century as a result of the construction of the memorial church of la Salute and the seminary.
The most noticeable feature is the golden globe supported by two figures of Atlas topped by the statue of fortune.
A new museum: in July 2006 the City of Venice calls a competition for a new contemporary art center to be hosted in the ancient custom house which is in a bad condition and needs major restoration. Two groups face each other to win the competition, the François Pinault Foundation, that already has the Palazzo Grassi, and the Guggenheim Foundation which owns the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice.
In 2007 the committee in charge for deciding which will be the winning group, says that both projects (Tadao Ando for Pinault and Zaha Hadid for Guggenheim) are equally good bringing the competition to stalemate. Still the Pinault Foundation wins because has presented a detailed list of 141 artworks that will be steadily housed in the new museum while the Guggenheim failed to do so.
P inault has engaged then Japanese minimalist architect Tadao Ando to renovate the unused, 37,000-square-foot customs house.
Tadao Ando says, The Punta della Dogana building is characterised by a simple, rational structure. The volume creates a triangle, a direct reference to the shape of the tip of the island of Dorsoduro, while the interiors are divided into long rectangles, with a series of parallel walls.
The Japanese architect also said, when presenting the project in 2007: This building has been floating on the water since the 15th century, and my intention is to see it float into the future; it is a very old building and it was very difficult to study its history so as to preserve its original structure and innovate toward the future. I will use a 20th century material, reinforced concrete, fitting it into this 15th century structure..
The first exhibit is called Mapping the Studio and will include works from Jeff Koons, Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, Takashi Murakami, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Matthew Day Jackson, Adel Abdessemed, Wilhelm Sasnal, Richard Hughes, Nate Lowman, Mark Bradford, Kai Althoff.
More information: www.palazzograssi.it/