Charles Green and Anthony Gardner’s Biennials, Triennials, and Documenta: The exhibitions that created contemporary art represents an apposite study of the biennials and triennials – also known as mega-exhibitions – that are proliferating around the world. Apposite since, with the exception of Bruce Altshuler’s two-volume account from 1863 to 2002, no art-historical text has offered a scholarly appraisal of these extravaganzas.
The current tally of international mega-exhibitions is a whopping 207, of which thirty-four will take place in 2017. They range from the grandfather of them all: the Venice Biennale, founded in 1895; the most august: documenta (founded in 1955 and occurring every five years); to the new kids on the block: Karachi Biennale; Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art; and Desert X in the Coachella Valley, California (each launched in 2017). Melbourne will host the inaugural NGV Triennial in December. Remarkably, 2017 also brought the first Antarctic Biennale; an expedition aboard a research ship-cum-cruise vessel which took place over twelve days in March.