The Economist reminds us that the growth of the Venice Biennale tracks the expansion of the global art market:
EVER since the Venice Biennale was launched in 1895, individual countries have offered their artists a showcase in national pavilions. Some are financed through their culture ministries, such as Italy’s, others, like Britain’s, through the ministry of foreign affairs. The Ukraine pavilion is paid for by a private collector, Poland’s via multiple sources. For 55 years there were fewer than 20 entrants, but in 1950 the number began to grow. This year, despite last-minute cancellations from Bahrain and Lebanon, there are 89 national pavilions, the highest number ever and up from 77 two years ago, proof of the global spread of contemporary art.
Art as a Political Game (Economist)