At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. government is determined to fight Communism with culture. The Venice Biennale, the world’s most influential art exhibition, becomes a proving ground in 1964. Alice Denney, Washington insider and friend of the Kennedys, recommends Alan Solomon, an ambitious curator making waves with trailblazing art, to organize the U.S. entry. Together with Leo Castelli, a powerful New York art dealer, they embark on a daring plan to make Robert Rauschenberg the winner of the Grand Prize. The artist is yet to be taken seriously with his combinations of junk off the street and images from pop culture, but he has the potential to dazzle. Deftly pulling off maneuvers that could have come from a Hollywood thriller, the American team leaves the international press crying foul and Rauschenberg questioning the politics of nationalism that sent him there.
Amei Wallach is an award-winning art critic, filmmaker, and television commentator. Her critically acclaimed films, Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here, remain in international demand. In her articles, books, media appearances – and more recently in her films – Wallach has chronicled, and known, artists from Willem de Kooning and Lee Krasner to Jasper Johns and Shirin Neshat. As an art writer, she watched Robert Rauschenberg make prints in New York and paintings in Captiva, Florida. She is uniquely able to tell this story. Wallach has written or contributed to more than a dozen books and was an on-air arts commentator for the PBS MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Art in America, and ARTnews. Taking Venice is her newest film.