Art Term


A biennial is a large international art exhibition held every two years

Haegue Yang, The Grand Balcony 2016

Haegue Yang, The Grand Balcony 2016

In the art context, biennial (or biennale, as it is sometimes styled) has come to mean a large international exhibition held every two years. The first was the Venice Biennale in 1895, which was situated in the Giardini, a public park, and now houses thirty permanent national pavilions and many smaller temporary structures. The early years were dominated by European art, but the exhibition now includes contributions from countries in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The late twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in biennials and by 2007 there were some fifty across the world, including the Beijing Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, the Prague Biennale, the São Paulo Biennal and the Sharjah Biennial in The Gulf. This explosion of large-scale international art exhibitions mirrors the financial boom in international art buying.

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Biennial at Tate