Last week, the VIP preview of the 56th International Art Exhibition -- or the Venice Biennale -- came and went like a breeze with the likes of Cate Blanchett and Maurizio Cattelan spotted out at the Arsenale or at prosecco-drenched invite-only parties. Insanely opulent palazzos and hotels hosted a slew of these events, many of which transported us back to medieval times -- were it not for the endless flashes of light emanating from smartphones as guests took selfies among the lavish surroundings. Where the art was concerned, highlights included Ukranian performance artists occupying the Russian pavilion in a performance art demonstration in camo coats; Los Angeles artist Frances Stark, who took home the Absolut Art Award, seen hamming it up with New Museum director Massimiliano Gioni; Eva & Adele launching their glittery pink-and-gold watch line with Swatch; art rockers Xiu Xiu killing it at the Palazzo Grassi; and Armenia winning the biennale’s Gold Lion for best exhibition. But if anyone took home the best party award, it had to be the Austrian pavilion, which had their gala on the island of San Servolo in a monastery-turned-dancefloor that went on to the wee hours. Some were still partying at the airport. Take a look at photos from the whirlwind couple of days, below.

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