Installation and decoration in the early years
The first exhibitions generally followed contemporary trends in interior design and furnishing found in Salons and picture galleries, after the prevailing fashion of the neoclassical style of museums. Romolo Bazzoni, author of the first history of the Biennale, noted that "in such a large space, paintings and statues didn't always show up well".
Since 1901 the Biennale studied the most suitable solutions for the positioning of the works to be exhibited, mainly in the somewhat disorganised central pavilion. In that year the first General Secretary Antonio Fradeletto introduced decoration as an autonomous artistic style, with the interior design of seven regional Italian rooms. In 1907, Giulio Aristide Sartorio decorated the central hall with scenes of classical mythology. He painted four panels, each seven metres long and five metres high, two for each wall of the room. A few years later, on the event of the Biennale of 1912, they came to be substituted by those by the painter Pieretto Bianco.
The difficult relationship between the decoration, placing of the pieces, lighting, and furnishings, was dealt with with increasing awareness and originality thanks to international examples, influenced by exhibitions in Stockholm and Brussels and the Viennese Secession . Since 1905, the Austrian and German rooms came to be exemplary in their design by the work of leading figures in furnishing such as Emanuel Seidl, Bruno Paul, and Joseph Urban. The Austrian hall was designed by E.I Wimmer in 1910. The room, which was later to become famous, hosted a personal exhibition of Klimt.
In 1907, Galileo Chini, one of the most active Italian decorators, was inspired by the Art Nouveau style for the decoration of the rooms hosting the Symbolist exhibition The Art of Dream. In 1909, on the event of the eighth Biennale, Fradeletto wished to try another experiment with mural decoration, this time directly painted onto the walls of the domed entrance hall of the main pavilion. The execution of the works was again entrusted to Chini, who depicted the most illustrious periods of civilisation and art painted onto the eight segments of the dome. In 1914 Chini also decorated the central hall on the event of the eleventh Biennale, commissioned to substitute the panels painted by Pieretto Bianco in 1911.