10 Must-see Exhibitions in Milan This November

From Michelangelo to Bosch: we rounded up the best exhibitions you shouldn’t miss this month.

Workshop of Jheronimus Bosch, The Vision of Tundalo, c. 1490-1525. Madrid, Museo Lázaro Galdiano © Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid.

“Recycling Beauty” at Fondazione Prada

The underlying premise of the new exhibition at Fondazione Prada is the need to think of the classical not simply as a legacy of the past, but also as a vital element with the power to affect our present and future. Such themes as seriality, reuse, and recycling in art are closely linked to our conception of modernity, but they also attest to the extraordinary persistence of certain classical values, categories, and models. Despite its cultural relevance and widespread diffusion, the reuse of ancient materials has been studied in depth only recently. In the last few years detailed attention has been devoted to the essential aspect of this phenomenon: the visual and conceptual interaction between the reused ancient elements and the post-Antique context, far from their origin, they become part of. Curated by Salvatore Settis, “Recycling Beauty,” instead, aims to draw attention to the moment when an antique artefact crosses the boundary between its condition of abandonment among ruins and the moment its value is reactivated through its reuse. Each recycled piece thus transforms its new context and is in turn transformed by it, in keeping with an intertextual mechanism of mutual legitimation and attribution of meaning. Exploring the fluidity of meaning of art objects that in time shift their use, reception, and interpretation means reflecting on the unstable and transformative nature of artistic processes. The exhibition design, conceived by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, together with Giulio Margheri, takes place in two of Fondazione’s buildings—the Podium and the Cisterna—as a process of historical analysis, discovery, and imagination.

“Bosch One Another Renaissance” at Palazzo Reale

For the first time, the city of Milan, under the artistic direction of Palazzo Reale and Castello Sforzesco, pays tribute to the great Flemish genius and to his success in southern Europe, with a brand new exhibition project revolving around a fascinating thesis: Bosch is the emblem of an “alternative” Renaissance, which is far from the Renaissance governed by the myth of classicism and is evidence of the existence of a plurality of Renaissances, with its art centres scattered throughout Europe. The exhibition itinerary encompasses a hundred works of art including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, engravings, bronzes, and ancient volumes, including some 30 rare and precious objects from wunderkammer. In this extremely rich corpus, the visitor will find some of Bosch’s most celebrated masterpieces and works inspired by the Master’s subjects, which had never before been displayed together in a single exhibition. In fact, Bosch is the author of very few works universally attributed to him, which are preserved in museums all around the world. Precisely because they are so rare and precious, this artist’s masterpieces rarely leave the museums and even more rarely do we have the opportunity to see them together in a single exhibition. Due to their fragility and peculiar state of preservation, some works will have to be returned to their museum locations before the exhibition closes.

PhotoVogue Festival 2022

For this seventh edition Alessia Glaviano, Head of Global PhotoVogue and Director of the Festival wondered what American critic Susan Sontag would say today about the ‘normalizing’ effect produced by repeated exposure to the content of images, launching a debate on what Glaviano called the ‘Contradiction of Overexposure,’ to discuss how the ubiquity of images shapes our ability to emotionally perceive, read and understand them, and the world around us. With the presence of more than 50 of the artists involved, the program includes many events including a lectio magistralis by Alfredo Jaar, a talk with intellectual David Rieff, panels with Fred Ritchin, Yashica Olden, Yelena Yemchuk, Aïda Muluneh, Roe Ethridge, Misan Harriman, Emanuele Coccia, Gabriele Galimberti, Maria Luisa Frisa and more.

The Mattioli Collection at the Museo del Novecento

The Museo del Novecento is working diligently to double the number of exhibition spaces it already has, greatly enhancing Milan’s cultural offerings. The arrival of the Gianni Mattioli Collection, which includes 26 noteworthy works from the early Italian 20th century, is an unparalleled milestone that marks the beginning of this project. The new works interact naturally and seamlessly with the permanent collection of the museum, ranging from Boccioni to Sironi, from Modigliani to Carrà and Morandi. The Gallery of Futurism, probably the most famous Italian art movement, which had its major events specifically in Milan, is where the most prominent nucleus is displayed. In the framework of the cultural upheavals of the avant-gardes that supported the arts in Europe at the time, Futurism is the trend that drastically characterizes the shift to modernity. The group’s manifestos and programmatic texts, which founder Filippo Tommaso Marinetti signed, described the group’s lyrical demands: dynamism, the “beauty of speed,” and modern existence. Boccioni, Balla, Carrà, Severini, and Sironi were the interpreters of this new sensibility.

Dineo Seshee Bopape “Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo]” at Pirelli HangarBicocca

“As we enter Pirelli HangarBicocca, we are greeted by a musical chorus and the aroma of fresh herbs, which immediately transport us into a metaphysical time and place. It is a collective multimedia participatory ritual staged by the South African-born artist Dineo Seshee Bopape, who invites us to engage with historical events, reconnect with memories of her ancestors, and reflect on the African diaspora through a few recurring natural elements in her artistic practice: water and soil,” writes Jessica Capretti in her review of the exhibition. Titled “Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo],” and curated by Lucia Aspesi and Fiammetta Griccioli, this is the first Italian solo show devoted to the work of Bopape and presents a selection of installations, wall drawings and videos that give visitors the opportunity to explore the artist’s practice. In her practice, Bopape incorporates different media, such as sculpture, drawing, video and sound. Organic and highly symbolic and coded materials are often juxtaposed with digital and technological aesthetic vocabularies.

“Zeffirelli, gli anni alla Scala” at Museo Teatrale alla Scala

Following the celebration of legendary director and actor Giorgio Strehler, the Teatro alla Scala Theater Museum is focusing its attention this year on another master of Italian theatre and a figure who has immensely contributed to the history of the Milanese theatre: Franco Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli is one of the best-known Italian directors in the world; his artistic activity is expressed in numerous fields including cinema, theatre and opera. On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, a new exhibition curated by Vittoria Crespi Morbio focuses on the master’s La Scala years and his immense contribution. The theatre also will mark the 100th anniversary with its iconic production of Puccini’s “La Bohème” scheduled for March 2023.

Mohamed, an inmate at the Milan-Opera Detention Home, took this photo for the project in 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Ri-scatti Onlus.
Mohamed, an inmate at the Milan-Opera Detention Home, took this photo for the project in 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Ri-scatti Onlus.

Ri-scatti at PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea

For once, it will not be the inmates who look out of little windows to catch a glimpse of a corner of the city during the months, or years, of serving in penitentiary institutions, but it will be the public who will have the opportunity to look through the windows – in this case, a collection of photographs on display at the PAC Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Milan – and catch sight of moments of prison life to understand what this experience means. Returning for the eighth consecutive year, “RI-SCATTI” (a play on words: in Italian ‘riscatto’ means redemption and ‘scatti’ means photographs) is a project conceived by Ri-scatti Onlus, a charity that since 2014 has been creating events and initiatives for social redemption through photography. The project aims to give voice to the complexities, and difficulties, but also opportunities of life in correctional institutions, beyond simplifications and stigmatisations, providing participants – in this case, both inmates and prison officers – with an educational tool while also generating a constructive confrontation and concrete synergy between the city administration, prisons and Milan’s cultural institutions.

“How far should we go?” at the ICA Milano

The concept of landscape is deepened and explored from multiple points of view through the works of eight Italian artists, different from each other in generation and linguistic code: Linda Carrara, Lucia Cristiani, Cleo Fariselli, Ettore Favini, Irene Fenara, Silvia Mariotti, Giovanni Oberti and Alice Ronchi. The exhibition is curated by Rossella Farinotti and the title originates from a 2019 work “Wherever Yugo, I go” by Lucia Cristiani, which featured the phrase “How far should I go to make something of myself?” etched with acid on the windshield of a Yugo, a small and iconic car popular in the former Yugoslavia. The question, while seemingly simple, triggers a reflection focused on the state of mind that frequently pervades those who embark on a journey with a certain sensibility, paving the way for a collective exploration focused on the theme of formalizing the landscape in its multiple interpretations. From the imaginary sceneries that populate our dreams to the real ones captured by the camera, “How far should we go?” places in dialogue an ecosystem of different works and installations that find their own point of contact in the attempt to escape an increasingly complex and unregulated system.

Michelangelo’s Pietas at Palazzo Reale

Three casts of Michelangelo’s Pietas have come to Milan, where they are exceptionally reunited in a spectacular and exciting display signed by Massimo Chimenti in the Sala delle Cariatidi of the Royal Palace. The breathtaking hall serves as a stage where three long sheets, suspended from the ceiling, serve as a backdrop to the extraordinary work by Michelangelo, amplifying their strong aesthetic value and the religious sense evoked by the sculptor in the different phases of his life. A rare opportunity to see all three sculptures together, thanks to copies. Careful documentary and iconographic research on the three Pietà aims at creating a visual narrative capable of presenting episodes in recent history that had Michelangelo’s sculptures as protagonists: restorations, installations and transfers – as the insanely risky travel of the Vatican’s pietà to the 1964 New York World’s Fair – immortalized by rare photographs and films, from important Italian archives and photo libraries that collaborated on the project.

Osvaldo Licini’s Rebel Angels and Hidden Paintings at the Pinacoteca di Brera

Two paintings by the 20th-century artist Osvaldo Licini now on display at the Pinacoteca di Brera have one thing in common: they conceal secret and little-known aspects of his work. Thanks to a comparison of two works at the Pinacoteca di Brera, his contribution to art history can be re-discovered. The museum’s endeavour to compare works from its collection to a ‘guest’ that has stylistic, compositional, and iconographic parallels is continuing after the last “dialogo (dialogue),” devoted to Caravaggio. In this instance, “Rebel Angel with a White Moon,” a painting from the Pinacoteca’s collection, is on display beside “Rebel Angel on a Dark Red Background,” a work loaned by the Osvaldo Licini Gallery of Contemporary Art in Ascoli Piceno. Titled “Osvaldo Licini’s Rebel Angels and Hidden Paintings,” and curated by Luca Massimo Barbero and Marina Gargiulo, the latest juxtaposition of works invites visitors to discover more about Licini’s enigmatic pictures.

News staff