10 Exhibitions to See in Milan This Fall

The best of the season including Max Ernst’s major blockbuster show; Avedon’s intense portraits; Bruce Nauman’s rooms and corridors; and Nari Ward’s “Gilded Darkness.”

Malcolm X, the Black Nationalist leader, photographed in New York, in March 1963. © The Richard Avedon Foundation. Richard Avedon

We have rounded up the most interesting and thought-provoking art happenings in Milan this season.

Richard Avedon “Relationships”

A new major monographic exhibition of Richard Avedon’s intense portraits invites visitors to explore an often overlooked aspect of the work of the most influential photographer of the 20th century. In our conversation with Rebecca Senf, the curator of the exhibition, she revealed how Avedon revolutionized the way models are photographed, turning them into actresses and the main focus on set, and how his amazing black and white portraits of celebrities reveal a more psychological and human side.

Bruce Nauman, Left or Standing, Standing or Left Standing, 1971/1999. Private collection. Collection of Dia Art Foundation, Partial gift, Lannan Foundation, 2013. © 2022 Bruce Nauman / SIAE. Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.

Bruce Nauman “Neons Corridors Rooms”

You shouldn’t miss Bruce Nauman’s monumental exhibition at the Pirelli HangarBicocca. Nauman is one of the world’s most prominent living artists and this exhibition, organized by Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, in collaboration with Tate Modern, London, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, provides an in-depth overview of his spatial research and important experiments with architecture, light, sound, language and video over half a century.

Maurizio Cattelan “Lullaby”

“Lullaby,” is the result of a collaboration between the Museo del Novecento, Maurizio Cattelan’s Archive, and the Cimitero Monumentale. The title stems from the work with the same name created by Cattelan in 1994. It is one of two works made of layered sacks filled with rubble from an explosion at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC). In 1993, a Mafia-related terrorist event that killed five people instigated much public outcry. The work, which is particularly meaningful for the history of Milan, will be donated by the artist to the City Collections. At the end of the exhibition, the sculpture will enter the collections of the Museo del Novecento.

Nari Ward, Gilded Darkness. Photo by Marco De Scalzi.

Nari Ward “Gilded Darkness”

In the outdoor and indoor spaces of the Centro Balneare Romano, in the Città Studi neighborhood, Nari Ward’s exhibition “Gilded Darkness,” a project by the Trussardi foundation and curated by Massimiliano Gioni, features new works that focuses on themes underpinning his research like the dialogue between cultures, art as a space of encounter and exchange, shaping identities at the crossroads between different languages and traditions, and in particular, reflecting on the function of monuments at a time marked by the continual revision of history. Known for his sculptures and installations often made with recycled materials, Ward has contributed to imagining contemporary art and culture as global, polyphonic experiences since the early 1990s.

Human Brains: Preserving the Brain

This fascinating and challenging exhibitions aims to stimulate an open and critical exchange between international scientists and experts on neurodegenerative diseases. Conceived by the New York studio 2×4, the exhibition design is divided into different sections supervised by the research centers, and a common central area encourages dialogue and exchanges between the thirteen institutes. Each section examines a specific research process on neurodegenerative diseases employing video presentations, technological objects and instruments, scientific documents, and visual materials. The exhibition aims to explore the complexity of scientific research by retracing the stages from identifying therapeutic targets to the different phases in the validation of new therapies to the availability of a drug for the patient.

Andrea Bowers “Moving in Space without Asking Permission”

Andrea Bower’s solo show, produced by Fondazione Furla, is part of a broader reflection on feminism that the artist has been developing for some time, and focuses in particular on the relationship between feminism and bodily autonomy, amplifying issues from the present and the past. Each of Bowers’s projects begins with in-depth research into the context in which she operates and an encounter with its social fabric. In this case, “Moving in Space without Asking Permission” takes its starting point from the artist’s confrontation with some of today’s Italian feminist experiences, in particular the work of the philosopher and activist Alessandra Chiricosta, who studies and teaches the practice of martial arts as a form of bodily self-awareness.

23rd Triennale International Exhibition

The Triennale Milano, which in 2023 will celebrate 100 years since its foundation, is one of the most important events devoted to design and architecture in the world, and is sponsored by Triennale in collaboration with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) and Italy’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Aid. The thematic exhibition, curated by Ersilia Vaudo, is the center of the 23rd International Exhibition. An area whose boundaries are hazy and permeable, and that presents more than a hundred works, projects and installations by international artists, researchers and designers dealing with the unknown. Read our review here.

A view of the exhibition “Mondo Reale,” curated by Hervé Chandès, Artistic Managing Director for the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition. Photo by Andrea Rossetti.

Mondo Reale

The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain has been invited by Triennale Milano to be part of the 23rd International Exhibition. “Mondo Reale,” curated by Hervé Chandès, Artistic Managing Director, is a reaction on the idea of mystery and unknown through the work of 17 international artists. We talked about it with Formafantasma, the designers behind the exhibition.

Max Ernst at Palazzo Reale

The first retrospective exhibition ever held in Italy dedicated to Max Ernst, the German celebrated artist, is the blockbuster show of the season. The exhibition traces the artist’s adventurous creative parabola, marked by the great historical events of the twentieth century. The layout follows Ernst’s biography divided into 4 main periods. Nine thematic rooms reveal his multidisciplinary approach to his art and practice.

Pietro Consagra “Immagini Vaganti”

The exhibition stems from the research conducted by the curator Paola Nicolin on a specific body of works by Consagra, better known as “Lenzuoli” (Bed sheets): paintings executed with homemade washable colors on cotton fabrics that the artist produced since 1967. As Consagra was developing a practical and theoretical discourse on the thickness of sculpture, new intuitions converged into this lesser-known series, in which the artist exploited painting as a free and liberatory field for experimentation. Consagra was painting “immagini vaganti” (wandering images) – as he wrote in 1974 in the introduction to the exhibition “Variazioni di Pietro Consagra. Quattro lenzuoli dipinti a mano” at the Milan Galleria Multicenter – in contrast with his radical choice of a frontal sculpture.

Jessica Capretti is a frequent contributor to Milano Art Guide since 2021. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and has worked on several projects including “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, in Paris. She lives and works in Milan.