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An Unexpected Journey: Exploring contemporary art at Gallerie d’Italia

A view of the impressive show at Gallerie D'Italia in Milan
A view of the impressive show at Gallerie D'Italia in Milan Copyright Duilio Piagges
Copyright Duilio Piagges
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The Milan venue of Intesa Sanpaolo's stunnning galleries may have put on its most impressive show yet - a visual journey through Italian and international contemporary art.


If you’re looking to add something spectacular to a visit to Milan as summer slowly turns to autumn, you could do a lot worse than a visit to the Gallerie d’Italia.

Nestled in the heart of Milan, the vast museum is putting on a particularly impressive exhibition, showcasing a range of works from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection.

Carefully curated by the Associate Curator of the Bank’s Collections of Modern and Contemporary Art, Luca Massimo Barbero, ‘Una Collezione Inattesa’ - or ‘An Unexpected Collection’ promises to take visitors on an extraordinary artistic journey.

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Luca Massimo Barbero, the exhibition's curator, in the Milan galleryDuilio Piaggesi

With more than 70 works of contemporary art, this exhibition introduces a wealth of paintings and sculpture, many never before exhibited at the Gallerie d’Italia.

Aiming to illuminate the world of modern and contemporary Italian and international art, the exhibition starts in the museum's monumental hall.

There you will find Jean Hans Arp’s work, including the imposing Femme Paysage, which paves the way for pieces by Bruno De Toffoli, an artist closely tied to the Manifestos of Spatialism.

The exhibition continues chronologically, with an initial focus on the 20th-century Masters of sculpture. On show are iconic works like La Pisana by Arturo Martini, Pomona by Marino Marini and Grande Cardinale Seduto by Giacomo Manzù.

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Grande Cardinale Seduto by Giacomo Manzù is on show at the exhibitionDuilio Piaggesi

Those artists are frequently hailed as being at the very forefront of Italian contemporary sculpture.

Venturing further, a gallery dedicated to Fausto Melotti unveils an array of sculptures, including ceramics and previously unseen works.

Among these, copper masterpiece Coppia stands out, as well as ceramic vases, including four important Korai.

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A selection of works from Fausto MelottiDuilio Piagges

Also on show are pieces from the experimental 1960s, with an emphasis on dematerialisation and monochrome art.

Sol LeWitt's Complex Form, which has only recently entered the Intesa Sanpaolo collections, serves as a bridge between American minimalism and Italian contemporary art.

It’s joined in the space by the works of Robert Ryman, Piero Manzoni, Alberto Burri, Toti Scialoja, and Enrico Castellani, which all appear to converse harmoniously.

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Ceramics and paintings collide in a gallery in the midst of the exhibtionDuilio Piaggesi

LeWitt's sculpture ‘Three Cubes (Straight)’ from 1969 creates a pathway to Gerhard Richter's ever-impressive 1984 work ‘Abstraktes Bild’, a fitting finale to this must-see exploration through contemporary art.

Even if you know very little about the era, this exhibition is a good place to start. Its intention is clear: to foster deep contemplation about the artistic innovations of the 20th century and the post-World War II period.

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Lucio Fontana's striking work features in the exhibitionDuilio Piaggesi

‘Una Collezione Inattesa’ runs until 22 October, 2023 at Gallerie d’Italia, Piazza della Scala, Milan

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