Heinz Mack installs towering golden
columns on a Venetian island


Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: one of the grandest installations created for the Venice biennale is a grid of seven-metre-high golden columns by German artist Heinz Mack (+ slideshow).

The Sky over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack

Installed in the waterside church square on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, The Sky over Nine Columns was designed by Heinz Mack to showcase the importance of the column in architectural history.

The Sky over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack

The artist describes this as the most fundamental element in architecture – creating an unofficial extension of Rem Koolhaas' Elements exhibition that analyses the roles of different building components, including staircases and walls.

"The column represents man standing upright – with dignity – in space," said Mack, who staged the exhibition alongside cultural organisation the Giorgio Cini Foundation and art historian Robert Fleck.

The Sky over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack

The installation is made up of nine identical columns, decorated with over 850,000 shimmering golden mosaic tiles intended to reflect the light of the sun and moon.

The glass tiles, known as tesserae, were produced in the Triveneto region of Italy. The team hope that visitors will make a connection between the metallic surfaces of the columns and the golden mosaic of the San Marco Basilica across the water.

The Sky over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack
Photograph by Herwig Kopp, NORmALUM

"With this project the island becomes an integral part of the work of art," said Pasquale Gagliardi, secretary general of the Giorgio Cini Foundation.

"This fits perfectly with our programme of initiatives, whose objective is to promote art forms closely associated with local traditions, including crafts in our region," he added.

The Sky Over Nine Columns will remain in place until 23 November, as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014.

Photography is by Alessandra Chemollo, unless otherwise stated.

  • Dylan

    “The column represents man standing upright – with dignity – in space.”

    Looks like the plastic tacky earrings of a 14 year old.

    Seriously, comparing “man standing upright” to golden columns in a recession, what the hell is this guy thinking?

    I admit I like the use of the glass golden tiles, but you can’t really see them from a distance. It also doesn’t seem to represent the “history of the column as columns were and are still used to support things. I would have thought that they should be represented as far more functional and industrial than these.

    • Z-dog

      “Italy returned to growth in the fourth quarter last year after its longest post-war recession” – 11.03.2014

      Live with the times and get golden.

  • elena

    What is this? What is it doing there? Why? The Emperor’s new suit.

  • Mr Walnut Grey

    “The column represents man standing upright – with dignity – in space.” Oh yes, I can see that. What a load of pretentious nonsense!

  • Enix

    Banality at its finest.

  • sultony

    A column is nothing without a beam, otherwise it is naked and meaningless. In fact, rather than resembling columns they resemble tower blocks.

  • Proud_to_be_American

    Why? Couldn’t he have just fed the hungry? Housed the homeless? Clothed the needy?