Berlinde De Bruyckere, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

a la une, Arts

City of Refuge III

Throughout her career, Berlinde De Bruyckere has crafted hybrid forms, drawing from the rich legacy of Flemish Renaissance, Christian salvation iconography, mythology, folklore, and contemporary events. Born in 1964, the Belgian artist delves into a psychological landscape of pathos, tenderness, and discomfort. She explores the complexities of love and suffering, danger and protection, life and death, transcending theological implications. The archangel motif made its debut in De Bruyckere’s work in 2020 when she saw “Cristo morto soretto da un angelo” (Dead Christ Supported by an Angel) (ca. 1502-10). This symbolic figure served as a poignant illustration of pandemic caregivers, embodying a complex figure associated with protection and hope.

Berlinde De Bruyckere a masterpiece for the Venice biennale 2024

Once again, archangels emerge as central figures, their presence hovering above us, embodying both protective guardianship and solemn indignation. Through this juxtaposition of the profane and the divine, Berlinde De Bruyckere‘s masterpiece constructs a pathway guiding us toward a deeper understanding of our own connection to the divine.



Free Entry – Tuesday to Sunday from 10am. to 8 pm- Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore 2, 30124, Venezia

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The title, “City of Refuge,” is inspired by a song by Nick Cave and has roots in the gospel song by Blind Willie Johnson.

In 2013, De Bruyckere represented Belgium at the 55th Biennale with “Kreupelhout — Cripplewood,” a collaborative creation with Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee.

photos by Stefano Bianchi


the painting inspiring the Archangels in Berlinde De Bruyckere art work

“City of Refuge I” was hosted in a 13th-century Templar Commanderie, a direct response to the Palestinian issue. “City of Refuge II,” presented at the Diözesanmuseum Freising, Germany, saw sculptural installations engaging in a nuanced dialogue with history, pain, and hope, interwoven with the architecture.

In this third instalment, perfectly attuned to the thematic focus of the 2024 Biennale, Berlinde De Bruyckere‘s work seamlessly intertwines with the storied legacy of the Palladian architecture surrounding the 16th-century Benedictine Basilica.

As part of the exhibition at San Giorgio Maggiore, artists are invited to interpret the choral manuscript traditionally used by monks during prayer, prominently displayed on the Major Choir’s Badalone. De Bruyckere‘s selection of the panel portraying St. Benedict overcoming his carnal temptations adds depth to her exploration.

Berlinde De Bruyckere a masterpiece for the Venice biennale 2024