You might think that all of modern art is ugly, corrupt and out to shock, he posits at the start, but watching my self-indulgent tour of Venice and whatever's showing there at the time will soon cure you of this misapprehension, he adds, sort of.
From then on we're not really sure if the documentary is about the beauty of ugliness, the ugliness of beauty...or even whether it is anything but an idiosyncratic sub-section of modern art that is the focus of all this enthusiasm.
So, as with Collings the topic is diced up into several categories of beauty of undefined size and importance, with an assortment of examples supplied:
— THE BEAUTY OF EMPTINESS
He takes a rowing boat out into the lagoon in order to talk about the 'cosmic haziness' of Turner. Anish Kapoor's reverie-inducing sculptures and the photography of Hiroshi Sugimoto also feature.
— THE BEAUTY OF DEATH
Art, he offers, is about finding beauty in our short, meaningless existence. So Damian Hirst's dead flesh in a perspex box belongs to an age-old traditon.
— THE BEAUTY OF MOTHERHOOD
An odd choice, that one. He turns back to Tiepolo to show us how artists have given us visions of motherhood based on our hopes rather than facts. And then he's waxing lyrical about the poetic art of Yoko Ono. (Motherhood??)
— THE BEAUTY OF TEXTURE
Seemingly ugly 'found' textures can be ravishing, Januszczak asserts. Spanish artist Jorge Otero-Pailos has preserved the last dirty wall in the Doge's palace by taking an impression using a latex skin. While the marks of pollution — and a certain amount of history — have now been erased from the real thing, Otero-Pailos's recreation of the pre-restoration surface with all of its skanky textures has been put on show at the Biennale.
There's truth in this, for I have certainly found the little chapels along the Calle de los Pasos and the facade of the cathedral itself a bit less 'ravishing' since they were treated to a paint job.
This section also included an aside on Karl André the 'balladier of the banal' and Jeff Koons, purveyor of the ugly beauty of kitsch — which 'looks dumb but isn't' and addresses our 'deep appetite for shallow things'.
— THE BEAUTY OF THE NIGHT
Suddenly we've left Venice and gone to Tokyo, where the neon-lit skyline has inspired artists like Tatsuo Miyajima. I was rather taken with his Sea of Time, where little red electric numbers flicker in a still pool.
— THE BEAUTY OF MYSTERY
Essentially the kind of aesthetic experience you have when you see something that makes you think 'How friggin' random is that!'. Example: Maurizio Cattelan's horse.