Milan Readies for Summer Season With Art Exhibitions

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Although Venice’s Biennale undoubtedly is the Italian epicenter for contemporary art lovers at the moment, Milan also is brimming with exhibitions, which offer not only some culture but also a respite from the city’s sun-soaked streets and high temperatures.

Here, WWD lists several exhibitions not to miss this summer.

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Elmgreen & Dragset: Useless Bodies?

Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2, Milan, until Aug. 22

When Fondazione Prada mounted its latest big show in late March, social media feeds were flooded with snapshots of it, from the broken bench spelling “homosexuals only” to the office desk gadgets reading “I love my colleagues.”

The poignant display by Berlin-based artistic duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset explores the condition of the body in the post-industrial age, with humanity’s physical presence seemingly “no longer the main agents of our existence. Bodies don’t generate value in our societies’ advanced production methods as they did in the industrial era. One could claim our physical selves have even become more of an obstacle than an advantage,” the artists said.

Unfurling over 32,290 square feet across the foundation’s Podium, North Gallery and Cisterna spaces, as well as the courtyard, the exhibition features several immersive installations in which different environments are recreated, be it an office, a domestic setting or a wellness center.

The juxtaposition of classical and neoclassical sculptures with modern pieces by the artistic duo is meant to spotlight how art has differently interpreted the male body over the centuries, while the slightly dystopian office environment with several workstations questions the role of the body in the work context.

The North Gallery is taken over by a futuristic household space with sci-fi gimmicks including a moving robot dog and seat-less chairs, exploring how people exist in their homes and their rapport with technology. The abandoned swimming pool and locker room mounted in the Cisterna space nods to the wellness and leisure industries’ technology-powered quest to define new body ideals.

A 500-page catalogue flanking the exhibition represents an extension of it and features analysis of the show’s theme by more than 35 authors, philosophers, artists, writers, scientists and thinkers.

Exhibition view of “Useless Bodies” by Elmgreen & Dragset at Fondazione Prada. - Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Rossetti / Fo
Exhibition view of “Useless Bodies” by Elmgreen & Dragset at Fondazione Prada. - Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Rossetti / Fo

Courtesy of Andrea Rossetti / Fo

 

Leonor Fini. Italian Fury

Tommaso Calabro Gallery, Piazza San Sepolcro 2, Milan, until June 25

Fashion darling and art provocateur Francesco Vezzoli is known for his obsession with pop icons who resonate in Italian culture. For his latest exhibition at the Tommaso Calabro Gallery, the artist took on the role of show curator and turned to Leonor Fini, the Italian-Argentinian artist once described by Max Ernst as an “Italian fury…of scandalous elegance, caprice and passion.”

Known for her turbulent disposition, Fini embodied the multi-hyphenate artist, becoming a skilled painter, illustrator, writer and costume designer. She also created the torso-shaped bottle for Elsa Schiaparelli’s “Shocking” fragrance.

Her larger-than-life persona turned her into an icon of the European elite and she was befriended by the likes of Roberto Bazlen, James Joyce, Umberto Saba and Italo Svevo, as well as Giorgio de Chirico, Dorothea Tanning and Ernst.

Vezzoli uses the show to retrace Fini’s career and how her personal relationships and love affairs were intertwined with her artistic expression. The show displays 60 of her artworks as well as pieces from other creative types she met.

Organized across the stucco-ed rooms of the gallery, the exhibit’s arrangement was developed to mirror Stanislao Lepri’s painting “La Chambre de Leonor,” or “Leonor’s Room,” ideally putting the audience at the heart of Fini’s career and personal life.

Installation view of the “Leonor Fini. Italian Fury” exhibit by Francesco Vezzoli at the Tommaso Calabro Gallery. - Credit: Courtesy of Riccardo Gasperoni /
Installation view of the “Leonor Fini. Italian Fury” exhibit by Francesco Vezzoli at the Tommaso Calabro Gallery. - Credit: Courtesy of Riccardo Gasperoni /

Courtesy of Riccardo Gasperoni /

 

David LaChapelle. I Believe in Miracles

Mudec museum, Via Tortona 56, Milan, until Sept. 11

Boasting a selection of previously unseen pictures and artworks spanning his 40-plus year career, the exhibition sheds a light on the most intimate and somewhat spiritual aspects of David LaChapelle.

The show, which was curated by Reiner Opoku and Denis Curti in tandem with LaChapelle’s studio, includes 90 images that spotlight the photographer’s distinctive blend of references to pop culture and the star system imbued with a spiritual undercurrent.

As the exhibition’s name suggests, the show aims to exalt LaChapelle’s thought-provoking art which questions our relationship with people, nature, consumerism, and spirituality. “A different world is possible. LaChapelle believes in miracles,” the curators said.

Alongside photos that left a mark in pop culture’s collective imagination, such as “Deluge” from 2006 and the following series “After the Deluge,” both inspired by Rome’s Sistine Chapel, as well as “Land Scape” from 2013 with which the artist refuted anthropocentrism and explored the dysfunctional rapport of humanity with nature, the show includes a series of unseen images shot against the Hawaiian landscape over the past two pandemic years.

They represent the essence of the exhibit in that they are testament to the realistic and meditative attitude the artist has embraced as of late.

Inside the “David LaChapelle. I Believe in Miracles” exhibit at Mudec. - Credit: Courtesy of Jule Hering / Mudec
Inside the “David LaChapelle. I Believe in Miracles” exhibit at Mudec. - Credit: Courtesy of Jule Hering / Mudec

Courtesy of Jule Hering / Mudec

 

Richard Serra. 40 Balls

Cardi Gallery, Corso di Porta Nuova 38, Milan, until Aug. 5

Milan’s contemporary art institution Cardi Gallery has mounted an exhibition dedicated to San Francisco-born artist Richard Serra. The show displays 40 one-of-a-kind, unseen drawings purposefully created for the exhibit and arranged in the industrial-tinged space by the artist himself.

Largely known for his life-size steel sculptures contextualized in the urban landscape of cities including London, Berlin, Naples and Bilbao, the artworks seen at the gallery nod to Serra’s penchant for drawing, in which he explores the same key themes seen in his sculptures, such as time, materiality and processes.

The 40 paintings, each with their unique round-shaped mark, are made using a black paint stick which lends a tactile feel. The artist has been using the same technique for his drawings since 1971 and considers his painting a standalone production rather than preparatory sketches for his sculpture.

Installation view of “Richard Serra. 40 Balls.” - Credit: Courtesy of Paolo Regis / Cardi
Installation view of “Richard Serra. 40 Balls.” - Credit: Courtesy of Paolo Regis / Cardi

Courtesy of Paolo Regis / Cardi

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