2017 Venice Biennale

A Penguin in Venice

Pierre Huyghe, Creature, 2005–11.ARTNEWS

Pierre Huyghe, Creature, 2005–11.


Here’s a sentence I never thought I would write: I had the most wonderful little art-viewing trip at Louis Vuitton in Venice today.

On the first floor, Vuitton has a big display of the new Jeff Koons merchandise, which are, of course, ridiculous, but so ridiculous that you just have to laugh when you think about the person spending around $4,000 for, say, a bag printed with the face of the Mona Lisa printed on it. (It’s very special seeing that one in Italy.)

And then, as I walked up the stairs, I got to enjoy some classic photos of grand public spaces by the great German photographer Candida Höfer.

On one floor—I got a bit disoriented after a point—there is even a little model of Frank Gehry’s design for the Fondation Louis Vuitton museum, which opened in Paris in 2015. “Very impressive,” I thought to myself.

Finally, on the top floor, is the Espace Louis Vuttion, my actual reason for visiting the store, which is hosting a modest Pierre Huyghe show right now. It has three works: Silence Score (1997), which is a transcription of a 1952 recording of a performance of John Cage’s silent 4:33 composition; A Journey to Antarctica (2005), Huyghe’s utterly alluring film about a trip to that continent in search of an albino penguin, and… where was the third work promised in a text at the entrance to the show? I looked around.

Oh! It is on the ceiling. It’s a Huyghe’s Creature (2005–11), a penguin made from fiberglass and synthetic fur. As you watch the film, it watches you.

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