Christoph Neimann in Venice’s Piazza San Marco (image via

New York Times visual columnist and famed designer Christoph Niemann is at the 2011 Venice Biennale, documenting his experiencing with the contemporary art festival in a series of sketches.

The series, called “72 Hours in Venice,” presents Niemann’s experience of “the world’s most romantic
city during rush hour.” As an art-world mating ritual and rite of passage, this early opening period of the Biennale sees the port city filled with critics, curators and artists all passing judgment on the work on display (Jeff Koons makes a guest appearance in one of Niemann’s comics). How will a relative outsider see it?

So far, the sketches show a mixture of bemusement and amusement. Trevisani’s “Saint Sebastian” inspires the designer while an old library filled with eggs in incubators is “wonderful.” A glimpse of “Big Bambu” by the Starn brothers makes Niemann think of his kids jumping off the structure into the canal. It seems like Niemann is pretty well equipped to handle the trials of the world’s biggest contemporary art show.

I can’t help but admire and be jealous of Niemann’s ability to render anything in clean, minimal lines, soft shading filling in the volumes of his figures and buildings. The guy is a classic draftsman as well as an innovative illustrator.


  • Christoph Niemann‘s “Abstract City” (now “Abstract Sunday”) column for the New York Times has showcased his wizardry with design, illustration and Photoshop. He cleverly mixes media as he tackles topics ranging from the NYC subway system to problems with extension cords.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...