Florence Biennale

This exhibition is set in the cradle of Renaissance art and its very name seems to link it to venerable, juried art shows like the Venice Biennale. But be wary of this and others like it. Florence Biennale is not a juried show and charges exorbitant fees for artists and galleries who wish to exhibit. The costs very often outweigh the benefits of participation.  Anyone have experience with this exhibtion?

24 comments
  • Anonymous

    Could you tell something about your experience in Venice biennale? How it feels to be a participant of this prestigious exhibition?
    Does organisator pay all expenses relating to shipping,travelling and so on?

  • Michael J Duke

    I am pretty disgusted with all the negative comments by people who cannot handle that the way the arts world operates is not as a charity. Take into account that no gallery takes in work by newcomers with no track record and give free space. I was also aware of the costs – and paid my own hotel and airfare etc. This side of the XII FB I can look back and say the whole thing has been a worthwhile experience where I have made a decent bunch of friends (which is an added bonus), got my name into a catalogue that gets sent to other galleries and is taken seriously by the arts world AND I have got noticed by gallery owners in Florence with branches elsewhere and have been invited to exhibit elsewhere. This last point proves that the FB was definitely worth the investment.

    Take into account that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Just because we had to pay up, it does NOT mean that it is a scam. To me, it was worth every penny.

  • Part

    No collectors, no galleries, no visitors.. Just go around to talk with each other. Not superb organisation, poor gala dinner, some strange winners.. And great business ofcourse, they earn millions.

  • Boruch Eugene Lev

    Just read previous comments and it feels sorry for people who got trapped. The submission was free and I applied, and I’ve got selected ( this year). When I looked at the cost and other dets I realized I’m not going. Looks like I did the right thing.

  • Zsofia Otvos

    I exhibited in the 2003 Florence Biennale, that was a transparent scam, that became evident when at the end of the show you were requested to fill out a survey regarding how much money you spent during your stay in Florence in restaurants, Hotels ect. The Biannale was held during one of the 2 time periods of the year when the tourism is the slowest in Florece, a city that is well known to based in trourism.
    – Though it was a curated show, the quality of work varried a lot and saw a lot of community art-fair types, or hobby artsist. There was an overwhelming amount of artists from the USA, that seems to me they may have been the trageted invited artists, who can pay the entrance fee and be flattered to have a Europeen biennale experience, me included.
    – A large part of the exhibtion hall was never completely installed; our show was right after an other event and simply they never finished the wall buildings and carpeting.
    – A lot of artists used the official shipping company and the venue’s installation services, only to find their work in crates by their walls, or never arrived because costume servrices held them back.
    – The attendance was very-very little, mostly the artists and their friends walked around the halls.
    – You were able to sign up to a list and a currator would give you feedback, the list was full before I found out about it, but I enjoyed walking with the group and hearing his thoughts.
    – In the sculpture competition in “best of show” cathegory, the winner piece was one not adhereing to the competition’s size specifications, in protest a lots of artists started to break down the display before the show official end, I think only the day before or earlier in the last day. It was a bit funny when the loudspeaker kept on calling for artists not to break down their installation.
    – When I showed I found that this show had no prestige, or a meaningful impact, or a presence of any importance in the art world.
    – You had to pay for the catalogue of the show.
    – I participated with an open mind and early in my carrier it was the right time to have this kind of learning experience. I think it was about a $3500-$5000 expence including entrance fee, airfair, room and board. At that time it was very-very much for me, I thought of it as a risky investment into my carrier. At the end of the day I did have almost 2 weeks stay in Florence surrounded by its amazing history and arhitecture.

    • Anonymous

      I am preparing myself to go for this year Florence Biennale, to me everything is scary regarding expenses ,the value of the event , etc , by reading all negative comments, I don’t think I go for it ,
      Any comments???

      • Anonymous

        Do not ignore the posts as signs that this is all a scam to bring in money into the hurting Italian economy. When a gallerist is interested in your work they will work with you to accommodate you and you will not need to spend so much money!!! These ‘opportunities’ play into the artist’s deep desire or dream to be known as an artist and nothing is more vulnerable to be seduced than a hungry soul. SAVE your money and don’t put all your life into your art. There are many other things in life to invest yourself in and if its meant to be the day/right opportunity will come your way and you will know.

  • Bill Jonas

    I exhibited in the 2003 Biennale. It’s expensive, and probably not as important as say, The Venice Biennale. However, it was in fact juried and it was also one of the best experiences of my life. I continue to communicate with fellow exhibitors and some have become very close friends. The Florence Biennale is really what you make it. If you can afford the expenses (shipping, traveling expenses, and a place to stay), I would encourage everyone who’s invited to participate.

  • Gail Folwell

    I used the Florence Biennale as a good excuse to take my family to Italy, and it was. Florence is spectacular and empty in December. The show was … diverse, some good art, some not, but there is no accounting for taste. The same can be said for all shows. It was pretty obvious that if you could afford it, you qualified. In my experience, a good gallery relationship is the best investment of time, travel and money. There is a lot of shit art out there, buyers need trusted consultants who will vet and recommend worthy investments. Critics and judges too can be well versed or ridiculous. It’s much easier to babble the validity of something obscure and talentless than take a chance on something you know people will have knowledge of and opinions on. In short, do what you enjoy, do it well, sell with people who believe in you.
    Watch ted talk – ‘How I became 100 Artists’. He is valid.

  • Anonymous

    I was also invited this year to participate in Florence Biennale and right away when I saw the prices I thought no! I agree with all of you, it is not a genuine biennale and should be abolished and re-formed into a proper juried one. I hope a nee law comes out soon to abolish all companies like that that invite everyone rather than being truly picky and doing proper marketing so that they are well known and well received shows that attract galleries and collectors! I was in the Venice Biennale 2 years ago and it was a good experience.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I will be this year there and will give you a feedback.
    I was told by a person/artist that Florence Biennale is the place to be and so I ended up there.
    The big question that bothers me is, if it’s such a scam and art specialists knows it, why famous artist like Christo and Abramovich and Prada and mani more are accepting art prise from them? Whith this they are kindly inviting us to participate and then the same people are judging us. This is not wright.

    • Anonymous

      I was wondering the same thing myself. I too was invited to participate and didn’t even look yet at the fees but I saw the BIG names that were involved with them and it left me with questions about the quality.

      • Anonymous

        I too got an invitation. I am not in a position to spend the huge costs involved and am not sure if I would do it even I had the funds. They have sent me sponsor kits, the nicely written confirmation letter to participate but still. I too have that question…. why big names like Christo, El Anatsui got involved?

  • Nancy Reyner

    I participated in the Florence Biennial about ten years ago, knowing full well what it was and how much it cost. The fees to exhibit were around $2000 if my memory is correct. I also had to pay my airfare, hotel and food. I found it very worthwhile. I went with another artist friend and we shared some costs. I figured out a way to bring my paintings with me on the plane, which only cost me an additional $100 round trip. I met some great artists from other countries and continued the friendships. The dates are at a good time to visit Florence. The Uffici was virtually EMPTY (worth the whole trip and all the expenses) and I did not have to wait in line to get in. The city puts on a wonderful opening parade with musicians and costumed dancers for the Biennial. I attended the event daily during the exhibition, staying near my work, and got to talk with many people. It was pure fun! I know a lot about scams, so I looked into this before paying, and knowing what it was about without any illusions made a great trip. I did not sell anything – not many artists did. There were 750 artists exhibiting so it was very busy, but well organized in my opinion. Many curators and art professionals know it is a pay-for-your-show venue, so I don’t list it anymore on my resume, but if you want a fun time in Italy then I recommend it.

    • Ileana Garcia

      Hi Nancy, I wish to ask you something: I am going this year and I wanted to know if you had a card reader app in order to receive Credit Card Payments. It is an issue I have to solve.
      Any info is very welcomed. Thanks a lot.

  • ER

    I was a sucker who participated. Sure as an emerging artists – it was what my ego wanted but was soon replaced by enormous guilt of the cost. Just the shipping (their shipper you HAD to use) was the price of a used car!!!

    I agree with Helen above – no crowds, and I mean NOBODY showed up for 4 days. We (some of us artists) took it up to admin and got some BS. Never got any gallery, collector offers BUT my name was added to the scam galleries that to this day keep pestering me.

    I met a wonderful group of artists and we network, one of them got a painting 1st Prize – which was in the long run just a piece of paper – never got a follow up from legit people or organizations.

    Stay away but do visit Florence! One of my fav places.

    • Sb

      I did the same about ten years ago – I had fun and spent s lot of money – not worth it in my opinion but gives you independent experience in an international show and you meet oriole who started their own art groups !

  • Helen Glazer

    Back in 2003 I received an invitation to this. I soon found out that everyone I knew who was on the International Sculpture Center portfolio section did, too. So they’re not terribly discriminating. I did some research at the time and discovered it’s a bona fide show, that if you pay your 1800 euros (or whatever they’re charging these days) your work will actually be hung on a wall in Florence for 8 days. And if you go, you probably have a good time socializing. But do you sell? Do you make contacts that actually advance your career? I did a little hunting around online and located an artist who had participated in 2001 and said if you sent him an SASE, he’d send you a letter about his experience. He explained that he preferred not to post his comments online. So I did. Here’s the gist:

    To summarize his comments in my own words, he enjoyed the trip to Florence and socializing with artists from around the world. (Noting, however, that the fair took place in December, when the weather is bleak, and it’s off-season for tourism, so don’t expect that market to come in.) People who have never heard of the Florence Biennial are generally impressed with the credential and he has gotten some mileage from that. He liked and respected John Spike, whose name was on the solicitation as a curator, but had nothing good to say about Artestudio, which seems to be the real organizer of the event.

    The minuses were that the show itself was poorly organized; it took place in a convention center basement; it received nowhere near the attendance the organizers claim; it was ignored by the press, even in Florence itself, and wasn’t even advertised in the tourist brochures at the hotels; almost nobody sold work; the participants were nickeled-and-dimed for extras above and beyond the entry fee, such as a table to put brochures on and tickets to special events like the closing dinner. In addition, there were some tacky aspects, e.g. an “exhibit” of offset reproductions of Prince Charles watercolors!

    The information he provided seemed very credible to me because he is not at all bitter and even said all in all, he has no regrets. But the basic message was definitely: proceed with caution. If you theoretically have several thousand dollars (entry fee, booth fees, travel and transportation fees, it all adds up) to invest in promoting your work, you can find much better ways to spend it.

  • anonymous

    Florence Biennial. Flatters artists and then charges artists.

    Even more pernicious…
    Also another independent entity during the upcoming 2017 Venice Biennale is contacting artists. And then charging crazy money for “wall space”. Beware!

  • Sandra C.

    I was “selected” to participate in the Florence Biennale several years ago. The fees back then were pretty pricey for an emerging artist, but the honor of being considered for an international event were tempting. The invitation seemed legitimate because of a positive quote about the value of participating in the Biennale by the Mayor of a city I’d previously lived in. I don’t remember why I was skeptical, but I wrote the Mayor to ask what she could tell me about it. She wrote back to tell me that she had never said what was written in their information. I still receive newsletters about the Biennale, and it may be a great art event to participate in, but I don’t trust an organization that makes up quotes to try to legitimize itself.

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