SCOTLAND at the VENICE BIENNALE 1990: Tre Scultori Scozzesi.
In 1990 for the first, and so far only time, Scotland was part of the official Venice Biennale, featured in the Giardini as a country in its own right along with 39 other nations. At the invitation of the Biennale director Giovanni Carandente, three sculptors, David Mach, Arthur Watson & Kate Whiteford were given prominent place at the heart of the Giardini, across a huge prime open air site right at the Biennale entrance. Tre Scultori Scozzesi were impossible to miss and made an unforgettable impression.
The director himself wrote that he “considered this exhibition one among the most important events of the 44th International.”
For this pioneering occasion each artist bravely employed materials new to them for their monumental, ambitious works. Archive photographs capture the scale and ambition of Whiteford’s 10×20 metre concrete and gravel land drawing, Sitelines, Mach’s 5 giant steel bonsai trees and Watson’s sunburst sail pyramid. As Clare Henry said in the official 1990 Biennale catalogue, “All three found a way of taking the Scottish landscape tradition off the gallery walls, and into the contemporary public arena, a move totally in tune with the new spirit of excitement generated by Scotland’s recent international success in all the visual arts; a success reflected in this unprecedented Biennale exhibition.”
This participation, Scotland at the Venice Biennale 1990, Tre Scultori Scozzesi, from an original idea by Richard Demarco, was carried out on a tiny budget by Barbara Grigor, (1944-1994), chairman of the Scottish Sculpture Trust, plus Angela Wrapson and selector curator Clare Henry. Funding from the Henry Moore Foundation and the British Council made the event possible.
Scotland at the Venice Biennale 1990 was a critical and artistic success, deemed “a Venice triumph for Scots sculptors”.
Clare Henry, 2015
April 30 1990
Arthur Watson with Curator Clare Henry in front of ‘Across the Sea’ Read more
Kate Whiteford, ‘Site Lines’ Read more
David Mach: ‘Scots Pine’ at entrance to Biennale. Laser cut steel Read more