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What do cows, bugs and pigs have to do with art? They add a certain sense of humor, for a start; a lot of the new art is fun. It's also anti-commercial, poetic and provoking. Above all, the work of young European artists is intensely personal, uncommonly powerful and it's everywhere.

What you see when you break out of the cocoon of mainstream museums is a new freedom. Europe's young artists have latched on to a wide spectrum of personal, sexual and cultural issues which they explore in film, video, photography, sculpture and installations.

You could see change last summer at Documenta X, the preeminent international show of new art held in Kassel, Germany. There were almost no paintings or sculptures. Video, film, photography and installations dominated.

The beat continues this month at the 47th Venice Biennale, a wide-ranging review of contemporary art which will run through Nov. 9. Here, multifaceted installations have the high ground. Artists like Rachel Whiteread of Britain--who produces rubber-and-resin "negative-space" casts of everyday forms like chairs and couches--continue to achieve art-star status. In Venice, she makes a compelling statement with an entire room, a library lined with the negative mold of shelves and books. French artist Fabrice Hybert followed the wildly popular techno-route with a nomadic tent lined with a slew of TV monitors and computers.