Chanel Hosted a Dreamy Dinner to Celebrate the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

For this year’s 60th Venice Biennale, curated by Brazilian-born Adriano Pedrosa, Chanel provided exceptional support to French-Caribbean artist Julien Creuzet, who represents his country at the French Pavilion. Together with the winners of the 2024 Chanel Next Prize, he was fêted with an exquisitely spectacular dinner hosted by Yana Peel, global head of Chanel arts & culture.

The fabulous soirée gathered the crème de la crème of the art world in the stuccoed Rococo salons of Palazzo Malipiero on the Grand Canal, a byzantine-Venetian gem recently acquired by French art patron Nicolas Berggruen.

Welcoming guests with an elegant and passionate speech, Peel highlighted the importance of art “as the greatest form of hope” and defined freedom of creation as “the ultimate luxury.” Praising Creuzet’s talent ( “he’s a titan!”), she framed his intriguing, powerful work within this year’s Biennale’s theme, Stranieri Ovunque—Foreigners Everywhere: “Art, culture, and the drive to make can turn strangers into friends. My greatest hope is that our honorees tonight leave as friends and collaborators, as art also offers the greatest potential for shared meanings.”

Creuzet, wearing a towering hat concealing his intricate dreadlocks, was obviously the star of the evening. Born in Paris and brought up in Martinique, his oeuvre is as complex as it is spectacular, incorporating the biographical, the political and the personal; it has also a performative edge, with montages of music, poetry and sculpture serving as canvas to his commentary on French colonial history and the retracing of African Ancestry.

The title of his wondrous installation for the French pavilion reads as a poem: “Attila cataract your source at the feet of the green peaks will end up in the Great Sea/Blue Abyss we drowned in the tidal tears of the moon.”

Praising the group of young creators granted the ChanelL Next Prize 2024, Peel said that “they would’ve made Mademoiselle Chanel’s collaborator Sergei Diaghilev proud,” working across multiple artistic disciplines, from dance to visual art to classical music. Awarded by a jury comprising artist Cao Fei, art critic extraordinaire Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and writer Legacy Russell and actress Tilda Swinton, the winners are Georgian artist Tolia Astakhishvili, Russian film director Kantemir Balagov, Irish dance choreographer Oona Doherty, New York game developer Sam Eng, Singaporean animator and visual artist Ho Tzu Nyen, Native American artist and director Fox Maxy, American free jazz musician Moor Mother, Brazilian artist Dalton Paula, Icelandic symphonic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and American opera singer Davóne Tines. In her deliberation, Swinton stated: “This is a time in our history when fresh thinking has never been more pressing. Each of these artists points us forward and into the beyond.”

Like a Chanel perfume, the evening was a perfect blend of breezy French chic and opulent Venitian luxe. The candle-lit set up had a touch of the local: Rococo-shaped tables were lined in black linen overlaid with white Italian lace; papier-mâché gilded candle holders were handmade by local artisans; glassware was custom-made in Murano in collaboration with Laguna B; side plates were handpainted in gold leaf by Venitian artist Daniela Poletti. The list of attendees included gallerists Sadie Coles OBE and Jay Jopling, museum directors Nicholas Cullinan OBE and Maria Balshaw OBE, actress Vicky Krieps, art patron Maja Hoffman, just to name a few; taking in the magical décor, they feasted on a delicious menu provided by Arrigo Cipriani’s Harry’s Bar, whose fluffy, decadent vanilla Meringue would make even the most ascetic of guests fall into temptation. The cherry on top? British Singer-songwriter Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s soulful musical performance.

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