Arte Italiana @t its Finest
On Thursday, 13 July 2007, approximately 500+ people raced through the doors of Milan’s Palazzo Reale for the opening of its latest exhibition: Arte Italiana, 1968-2007. On display until mid-November, these paintings, under the ideas of Vittorio Sgarbi and curated by Maurizio Sciaccaluga, re-unites la crème de la crème of what modern/contemporary Italian painting has been known to express in the last half of this century, from 1968 until the more recent experiences.
Some artists represented in this exhibition were the following: Domenico Gnoll, Renato Guttuso, Piero Guccione, Valerio Adami, Gianfranco Ferroni, as well as artists who are not so well-known, such as Adelchi Mantovani, Gustavo Foppiani, Lorenzo Tornabuoni and Giancarlo Vitali. Cultural and aesthetic watersheds are not only political, as 1968 represents the symbol of the landslide of ideologies. It also represents unanimated ideas shared between the beauty found in art and the outpouring of the spirit expressed to the viewers. There was also a side exhibition of Italian architect mastermind Gio Ponti, who designed a myriad of stylish yet functional furniture and urban buildings. Many of his works still stand in Milan today.
Since I did not possess an invitation (and I couldn’t jump in line with somebody else since everyone came as a couple), I had to wait over two hours to see this exhibition. It was a madhouse, to say the least. Everyone was pushing and shoving, cutting in line and yelling just to have first dibs on viewing the exhibition. The three security guards, 2 at the door, one responsible for checking everyone’s invitation (and yes, there were a few frauds!) kept saying: “Piano, piano, piano”, urging everyone to slow down and stop the madness!
Once inside, there was no direct flow, which made it hard for people to make their way around to these exhibits. It was obvious that the Italian Paintings galleries were arranged chronologically while Gio Ponti’s exhibition was arranged by medium (furniture, decorative items, photographic collages/newspaper clippings/press releases/letters, etc.). There were only short paragraphs on the wall, describing the time period and influences of these painters, as well as photographs of Gio Ponti’s architectural successes from all over the world.
Being that this opening took place in one of the greatest fashion centers of the world, it was also interesting to note the kind of people that attended this event and what they wore. The majority of the populations were, of course, middle-aged Caucasian Italians who were extremely well-dressed (as if they were going to the opera or a fancy dinner) in the season’s latest fashions. The ballpark average age was older, probably around 40. A few families came with their children, and judging from the fact that most of these kids had their own cell phone, plus name brand clothing, indicated that this “leisure” event was definitely for the upper-middle class and beyond. A few exceptions included a small group of university art students and young professionals – also mostly Caucasian Italians, sporting the latest trends. As a result of their high status in society and level of education, there were many interesting and in depth conversations going on regarding art criticism and theory as well. Needless to say, Europeans are TONS more educated about the arts than Americans ever will be.
All in all, despite the lack of vino and other antipasti delights every show opening ought to have (especially in Italy), it was a worthwhile experience that I was happy to have experienced. Next time, I will try to join the VIP list. ☺