All 8 entries tagged Milan

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November 08, 2011

Gallerie d'Italia: a new museum in Milan

In these years of financial crisis and very limited resources with some museums shutting down, others scaling down their operations and postponing development projects, you might wonder how it is possible that a brand new museum opens in Milan. There is a very simple answer: it's private. Behind Gallerie d'Italia, this is the name of the museum (literally Galleries of Italy), there is Intesa Sanpaolo, one of the biggest Italian bank, and Fondazione Cariplo, a bank foundation funding projects in the cultural and social realms.

The artworks, around 135 works from the Fondazione Cariplo collection and other 62 belonging to the Intesa Sanpaolo corporate collection, are hosted in the somptousus rooms of Palace Anguissola Antona Traversi and Bertani. Both historic palaces, dating back to the end of 1700, are located in Piazza Scala - yes, this is where La Scala Opera House is - and belong to Intesa Sanpaolo.

The Galleries opend just a couple of days ago, on 3rd November 2011. Entry is free until Spring 2012.

I went to visit on a Saturday afternoon to view for myself this "gift" to the city of Milan. The artworks on display cover the 19th century Italian art with a focus on Lombard paintings (Lombardy is the name of the county to which Milan belongs). The visit starts with some of Canova's plaster casts. Clearly these are just preparatory studies for the final works in marble but you can still admire the absolute beauty and harmony of the compositions.


Another room is devoted entirely to Francesco Hayez, the leading artist of Romaticism in mid-19th-century Milan, renowned for his grand historical paintings, political allegories and exceptionally fine portraits. The great majority of works on display might not be by internationally renowned artists, however, what I found really fascinating is that they offer a glimpse on how the city used to be. There are fine views of the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and a room devoted to paintings showing the Navigli, Milan's waterways. They reminded me a bit of Venice. It is a real pity these canals were covered at the beginning of the 20th cent and nowadays there are just three Navigli left.

Then there are colourful views of the Alps both in spring and covered in show and paintings showing the lakes of Lombardy.

Four paintings by Boccioni hangs in the last room, marking the end of 19th century style in paintings and opening up to Futurism, an artistic and social movement which Boccioni embraced. Futurism focused on movement, energy and technology, ideas conveyed by using a very specific style of brush strokes as you can see in the picture below.


Finally a couple of curiosities about the museum. First there was classic music in the background in all the rooms! It created a very nice atmosphere, perfect for a museum visit. Though I'm not sure if this is going to have a positive effect all the time. When I visited, the museum was very quiet with a handful of visitors around but what happens when the museum gets a bit more crowded? Imagine crowds of visitors talking and sharing their impressions with fellow visitors on top of the background music...

The other very interesting innovation was that an art expert was available in all the museum sections. It wasn't for a special tour or anything like that but just a standard service for all visitors.

Taking all into account I was very pleased with the visiting experience: well done to the museum :)

September 28, 2011

Some more pictures…..

Follow-up to Artistic road signs in Milan from Giulia's blog

The Angel and the Devil

Isn't it lovely? a devil with horns and the angel with halo

the sign of Cupid

Are you looking for love? Please follow the arrow but beware there's a speed limit (sorry for the picture, it's a bit blurred)

August 07, 2011

Artistic road signs in Milan

It seems road signs in Milan are having a makeover and the result is quite amusing I would say..img_0247.jpg

This is however not an avant-garde initiative by the recently elected new mayor but the work of Clet Abraham, a French -born street artist, now based in Florence.

From a technical point of view the works are very simple, in the sense that they consist of just a sticker added to the original signs. The artistic intervention is not so overt but rather quite sober as it matches the communication style already adopted for road signs.

If you look at the picture on the right, you may notice that the man has actually been done in the 'matchstick style' used regularly to represent men in road signs. Hence, the sign does not come across as something utterly out of place. The viewer is then encouraged to 'accept' it as a sign communicating something important, which is actually the function of road signs.

The key aspect is the new meaning signs acquire. In addition to regulating our behaviour on the street by stating what we can and can't do, artistically-enhanced signs convey also an amusing message.

I think the original and the new message remain clear simultaneously. Hence I'm confident drivers can still interpreter the 'official message' of the sign without any risk for road safety.

Unfortunately, I also expect these signs to revert to their original aspect shortly since concerns for safety and legal aspects will inevitably have priority.

July 31, 2011

Would you enter a dark tunnel on your own? A review of Anish Kapoor exhibition in Milan

Dismissed in 1930s, the Fabbrica del Vapore is a former tram factory which re-opened in 2008 as a creative hub with office spaces, flats for artists in residence, performance spaces etc. The complex includes also a huge space for temporary exhibitions in what used to be the hall to assemble the trams.

For this space, known as the cathedral, the 57-year-old British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor has created a site-specific work called Dirty Corner. It’s a 60-metre tunnel made of iron. Half way down in the cathedral there is a conveyor belt dropping earth on the tunnel so that at some point it would be completely covered.


You don’t watch this artwork, you have to enter into it, queuing patiently and waiting for your turn. The entrance is actually bigger than the tunnel itself. This gives you a sense of something getting smaller and slightly oppressive, especially if you stand in front of it looking at the pitch dark awaiting you. This exhibition wants visitors to reflect not just on the artwork itself but also on themselves as individuals.

Ideally you should walk through the tunnel with a partner the first time and then try a second time on your own. Depending on how you feel, you can enter the tunnel as many times as you wish, walking at different speeds and making brief pauses. To truly experience this artwork you need to be on your own without any visual reference, hence it is important you enter the tunnel when the person in front of you has disappeared in the dark.

Since I was on my own a steward offered to join me as I walked into the tunnel for the first time. I was encouraged to take off my shoes as the high heels caused noise, spoiling other people’s experience and mine as well. Silence and dark are both integral elements of this artwork. Being barefoot also allowed me to experience the artwork more closely as I could really feel the iron I was walking on.

Walking into the tunnel is a deeply physical experience. As I moved deeper and deeper into it, everything got darker and darker until we reached the point where it was completely pitch dark. This is the real essence of the work: it’s about losing the sense of space and orientation and having to walk forward in the dark. This is why exhibition stewards provide you with information on what to expect and the kind of feeling you might experience, encouraging visitors to walk into the tunnel first in pair.


The second time I entered the tunnel on my own. I was told that if I had felt uncomfortable, I could just turn back and look at the entrance so that I could see light and people, before carrying on in the dark towards the exit at the end of the tunnel. When I reached the ‘dark point’ I stopped to let my eyes get used to it. I did not turn back to look at the entrance as I took that walk a bit like a personal challenge, to prove myself I could do it on my own.

The most surprising walk was however the third one. I felt really comfortable about walking into the dark on my own but what surprised me more was to discover that inside the tunnel it wasn’t actually pitch dark! The only explanation I can think of is that my eyes finally got used to the dark. By the time I had reached the exit I could still see my pale shadow just in front of me as I actually realized there was still light coming in from the tunnel entrance.

For me this experience had a very metaphoric value. It was about being brave to walk into the dark and unknown on my own, challenging the feeling of unease, just to realize that there wasn’t really anything to fear and that the dark wasn’t dark at all!

(some more pictures are available in the gallery)

Further details:

Anish Kapoor - Milan Exhibition Fabbrica del Vapore 31.05.2010 - 08.01-2012

via Procaccini 4, Milan

July 05, 2011

Blue sky, violin playing and birds singing in Milan

A few days ago, after a long day in the office, I decided I needed a bit of rest and headed to the 6th floor of the student hall where I live. There's a common room there with sofas and TV plus two balconies, one on the front side of the building and the other at the back.

I sat in the rear balcony and had an amazing time!

Following on from my previous entries, I couldn't do without pictures...

Milan at 9pm in June

This photo was taken at around 9pm, hence it really has that typical "at dusk" atmosphere. The sky above my head was however still bright and just breathtaking...

the sky in Milan

add some classic music in the background: a student living here was rehearsing with his violin in the common room. And the very final touch to make the whole thing perfect: birds singing. You can hear them both, the violin and the birds, in this recording I made:

Music for the expo college (mp3)

April 20, 2011

The "happy hour" ritual

One of the coolest places in Milan is the Navigli District. The Navigli are Milan's waterways. Built in 1100 they were in use until about 1930 when some of them started being covered up and replaced with roads. They served commercial and trade purposes, connecting Milan with the main rivers and lakes in the north of Italy. For example, the Candoglia marble used for the Duomo was transported from the quarries near the Lake Maggiore to the construction site via the Navigli.

Today just two Navigli have surveived and they are populated with bars and pubs, one after the other and you're spoiled for choice. This area comes alive in the late afternoon, evening when the Milanese meet there for the 'happy hour' ritual. 'Happy hour' is basically a deal offered by all the bars in the area: between 6pm and 9pm all drinks (beer, wine, cocktails etc.) are offered at the same price, usually between £5 and £8, and there's a finger buffet available and you can eat 'as much as you like'.

April 17, 2011

I've seen amazing things….

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the fashion company Trussardi the english-born design Michael Young created this installation made with gilt aluminium "links" that can be reconfigured in innumerable ways.

Every April Milan offers the best in domestic and office furnishing at the 'Salone Internazionale del Mobile' (International Furnishing accessories exhibition), 12 - 17 April 2011. In addition to the exhibitors at the fairgrounds, the city itself  hosts an endless programme of cultural events spanning various historical locations. There's an obvious link between design, art and fashion and the Salone becomes then an opportunity to celebrate what Milan is worldwide famous for.

The choice of what to see and do is just endless, it's an ongoing happening, day and night. I ventured out to explore the situation in the Brera distric (it's where the Brera Pinacoteca is located. It's one of the oldest art gallery in the city and the area around is just full of shops offering the best in design, craft, art etc...)

I visited the exhibition IX Mirrors by Ron Gilad at Dilmos . Those were not usual mirrors! They don't tell just the story of the person they reflect but they seem to have a story of their own, something from a magic world....just take a look at the picture I put in the gallery.

After that I stopped at the Lago Flat (see the picture in the gallery). Lago is a company producing design furniture for the house. They have obviously normal showrooms where people go and buy their products but the most innovative concept is to present their furniture in a real setting, a real house. The flat I visited is a private house all furnished with Lago products. So you have a chance to see a real 'working' home. If you're willing to refurbish your flat and are ready for a new way of life, then you should contact Lago. They offer you a 38% discount on the furniture and as an exchange you agree to have your house open to visitors interested in the products or open for any other kind of social event, meeting etc. Then you'll also get a 20% discount on the sales made thanks to your contribution.

Clearly, this is not a project for ordinary tenant. According to Lago's website this is their ideal tenant:

"The Tenant is a person who loves socializing, who manages to organize the coolest party in 2 hours, without losing heart when it’s time to tidy up. He lives in the Appartamento alone, with his family, with his friends. He doesn’t have a fixed timetable, he opens the doors of his flat according to his availability, making agreements each time with those who are willing to visit the Appartamento. In order to advertise his house he organizes dinners, hosts small events, turns his flat into an interesting and well-known place in the city. He tunes a serenade to his city from his houses’ balcony: he’s certainly not short of courage for it."

April 10, 2011

"My" amazing park in Milan

When I left England, one of things I expected to miss the most were my long walks, often with friends, in the parks in Leamington, along the Grand Union canal and in the nearby countryside. English countryside is simply beautiful, mainly untouched by human hands and scattered around with sheep.

The countryside in Veneto, the region I come from, is much different, more humanized and used mainly for agricaltural purposes. It's not really meant for people wandering around and walking the dog.

A couple of weeks ago I moved to Milan expecting to be surrounded by houses, offices, skyscrapers, basically concrete everywhere. However, to my great surprise, I discovered an amazing park just 5 min walk from where I live. There're four lakes, woods, allotments, birds and ducks. If I really have to make a comparison with England, the only things missing are squirrels and rabbits.

The park is called 'Parco delle cave' literally 'park of the quarries'. In fact, the four lakes used to be sand and gravel quarries.

beautiful view

and more pictures are in the gallery....

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