10 art and design exhibitions to see in Italy

Dark and cold months are a great time for introspection and germination of new ideas that will turn into new projects come spring. And where to find inspiration if not in Italy, an all-year-round destination for art lovers?

Here I don’t mean only great masterpieces of the past, but also current exhibitions devoted to art, design, photography and architecture. Below you will find a Dreams & Design roundup of the most interesting events on show in various Italian cities between now and early 2020. 

Exhibitions for art lovers

Cerith Wyn Evans ….the Illuminating Gas, Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan, until 23 February 2020

A visual treat for those of you who like contemporary light installations. Pirelli Hangar Bicocca in Milan has opened its doors to a major retrospective by a Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans, who represented his country at the 2003 Venice Biennale. This time he returns to Italy with a new body of work, sculptures and installations (with light and sound effects) that will make you search for references to literature, philosophy, art history and science. 

Canova. Eterna Bellezza, Museo di Roma, until 15 March 2020

Rome is a perfect place to admire the eternal beauty of neoclassical sculptures by Antonio Canova, an artist who was inspired by the city’s ancient heritage. The exhibition at the Museum of Rome features 170 sculptures, some of them on loan from international institutions such as the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. It also offers a chance to compare ancient sculptures, including Apollo Belvedere, with neoclassical marble statues by Canova.

Joan Miró. Il linguaggio dei segni, Palazzo delle Arti, Naples, until 23 February 2020

Palazzo delle Arti in Naples invites art lovers to track the extraordinary career of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Eighty works by Joan Miró, on loan from the Serralves Foundation in Porto, show progress of his visual language, from the 1920s to the 1980s. They are dreamy, highly original and influenced by the Mediterranean colours of the artist’s homeland, Catalonia, so in this way they can be a perfect antidote to the winter weather.

Marisa  Merz. Geometrie sconnesse palpiti geometrici and William Wegman. Being Human, MASI, Lugano, until 6 and 12 of January 2020

Technically, these two exhibitions take place outside Italy, in the neighbouring Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in Switzerland. The first one is a tribute to Marisa Merz (1926-2019), the only female protagonist of the Arte Povera movement. It presents a broad selection of her works, from drawings to sculptures, that investigate the underlying theme of faces and figures.

The second exhibition is dedicated to William Wegman, an American artist who has been using his beloved Weimaraner dogs as subjects of polaroids to make ironic observations on human characters, history of art and fashion trends. An art trip worth crossing the boarder.

Exhibitions for design lovers

Design from the Alps 1920-2020, Merano Arte, until 12 January 2020

If you plan to ski in Trentino/South Tyrol, don’t miss out on this exhibition in Merano that traces one hundred years of design legacy in this alpine region. Artefacts range from furniture to motorcycles and cover the most important design trends of the 20th and 21st century, starting with Bauhaus and Italian Rationalism. Featured designers include names such Fortunato Depero, Luciano Baldessari, Ettore Sottsass and Matteo Thun. 

Anima d’acciaio: Columbus e il design della bicicletta, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milan, until 18 January 2020

Anima d'acciaio: Columbus e il design della bicicletta

The title of this exhibition, Soul of Steel: Columbus and bicycle design, alludes to the role that the iconic Italian brand, Columbus, played in the evolution of the bicycle industry over the last one hundred years. This is the second exhibition in the Columbus Continuum series that celebrates the legacy of the metallurgical company. Inside the gallery you will discover tubing sets used for bicycle frames alongside bikes used by champions and additional materials from the archives. The exhibition is co-curated by a friend of mine, a true bike aficionado, Francesca Luzzana

Carlo Scarpa. Vetri e disegni 1925-1931, Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona, until 29 March 2020

Carlo Scarpa Vetri e Disegni Verona

The city of Romeo and Juliet is currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to glass works and drawings by the iconic Venetian architect, Carlo Scarpa. The exhibition inside Museo di Castelvecchio features 69 Murano glass pieces created in his youth, when he was studying at the Acedemy of Fine Arts in Venice and collaborating with Maestri Vetrai Muranesi Cappellin & C. Moreover, Scarpa’s drawings displayed at the exhibition will give you a better understanding of his creative process.

Exhibitions for photography lovers

Vivian Maier. A Colori, Forma Meravigli, Milan, until 19 January 2020

Vivian Maier. A Colori Forma Meravigli Milano

The streets of New York and Chicago of the 1950s and 1960s immortalised by the famous nanny, who for 50 years captured the world around her with her camera. Vivian Maier documented scenes from her daily life with 150,000 photos, predominantly in black and white, yet a significant, so far mostly unknown, part of her archive is in colour. The Forma Foundation in Milan invites you to discover these hidden gems and appreciate photographer’s point of view, which was very much ahead of her times. 

Oliviero Toscani. Razza Umana, Palazzo del Duca, Senigallia, until 2 February 2020

The ambitious project by Oliviero Toscani features portraits of people from around the world who look straight into the camera. Their eyes reveal emotions and experiences that are familiar to every human being regardless of social and cultural differences, hence the title, ‘Human Race’. The exhibitions celebrates diversity, but at the same time points to common physical expressions and characteristics that can be found in all countries around the globe. 

Exhibition for architecture lovers

Gio Ponti. Loving architecture, MAXXI, Rome, until 13 April 2020

Gio Ponti Amare l'architettura MAXXI Rome

The major retrospective at the MAXXI museum in Rome is named after Gio Ponti’s best known book ‘Amate l’architettura’ and divided into eight sections. Each of them sheds light on a different aspect of the legendary architect’s practice. From home furnishings to facades and skyscrapers – every idea has been illustrated with original models, relevant books and magazines. Architecture enthusiasts will be delighted with the accompanying photo exhibition that portrays Gio Ponti’s most iconic buildings in their present state.

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