Weekend in Milan – an ‘aperitivo’ for the eye

Squeezing in an art weekend in Milan while on my way to Venice. What – do I think there won’t be enough art waiting for me at my final destination? By no means! I’ve still got free miles on Eurowings (formerly known as German wings, wisely changed their name after one of their pilots flew an aircraft on purpose into a mountain in 2015), and they don’t go to Venice.

Duomo di Milano

Piazza del Duomo – with the iconic cathedral.

Plus I’ve been to Milan for two weeks last year for my wonderful Italian class and do know that there are a couple of highly interesting venues housing highly exquisite exhibitions. To be honest, this is – besides the fantastic ‘aperitivo’-habit –  the only thing I love about Milan; otherwise it’s not Italian-historic-romantic enough for me.

But this weekend was awesome: great exhibitions woke – as an aperitivo for the eye – great expectations what Venice will have to offer.


Buongiorno, Milano!
We art addicts have a huge advantage in comparison with ordinary people: When we land in Italy and the cielo is not azzurro, we just pace a little to get to the next gallery a bit faster.
As I landed, the cielo was far from being azzurro, it was actually mousy grey.

Galleria D’Arte Moderna di Milano (GAM)

What an excellent excuse to start the day with the first museum visit right away.

The GAM – Gallery of Modern Art, which are approximately the years from 1800 to 1900, is housed in a neo-classicist villa, built at the end of the 18th century as Count Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso’s humble home.

At this moment they are celebrating “100 anni scultura a Milano 1815 – 1915”, presenting 63 sculptures made of plaster, marble, and bronze that were restored and are usually preserved in storage and not on display.

GAM Milano
Vincenzo Vela: The Morning Prayer (the central piece)

A visitor commented in the guest book “Arte moderna – certainly not Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir”. Even though this a rude comment, every country had its guilded art age depending on the political, social, and economical situation, and Italy’s great eras were the Renaissance and the Baroque. Still, also some of the Italian symbolism is exquisite.

GAM - Milano
Giovanni Segantini: L’Angelo de la Vita (Angel of Life) (left) and L’Amore alla fonte de la vita (Love at the Source of Life) (right)
GAM Milano
Angelo Morbelli: Inverno nel Pio Albergo Trivulzio (Winter at the Trivulzio Shelter)
Just so you know: I took the picture from this angle so you are able to see at least something.
This painting is miraculous: When you stand right in front of it you hardly see anything.
Morbelli does not only touch my heart with his melancholic motives, he also has my full admiration for his technique.

Anyway, I’d recommend a visit to this venue mainly for the building itself respectively the old decoration of some parts of the galleries rather than for the art.

GAM MIlano
Looking this couple over the shoulder into the ceremonial hall.

Galleria D’Arte Moderna di Milano
Via Palestro 16
20121 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 44 59 43
E-mail: c.gam@comune.milano.it

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.

By the time I was done visiting the GAM, the weather was fair enough to walk a little bit. I can tell you, if you are carrying this big backpack full of money and your back hurts from the load, just check out the stores along Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea, or Via Monte Napoleone – and your burden will be taken from you in a blink of an eye.

Milano Shopping
Missoni at Via Sant’Angelo….
MIlano Shopping
….or Fendi at Via Monte Napoleone

Walking along Corso Venezia instead is a nice alternative to all this decadence. Keep your eyes open not to miss all the great ancient palazzi there – the facades, the gates, the statues…just beautiful.

When you turn at San Babila from Corso Venezia right, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II takes you straight to the Duomo. I didn’t visit it this time, but if you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely go, especially the climbing around on it’s rooftop is really special and fun.

I had a slice of pizza at “Spontini”, a chain restaurant which is…a chain restaurant, and did then pay the Museo del Novecento a visit.

A humble meal on a gold plated counter.

Museo del Novecento

I love the Novecento for its architecture and its location and the views from the 4th and 5th floor.

Museo Novecento
The Spatial Ceiling was created by Luciano Fontana for the dining room of the Hotel del Golfo on Procchio (Elba) in 1956..

Museo Novecento

View from the 4th floor of the Novecento at the Duomo – standing under the Struttura al Neon, that Fontana designed on the occasion of the IX Triennale di Milano in 1951.

I’m not so crazy about it for the art: Severini, Balla, Carrà – I strongly dislike Italian futurism, to say the least, and the Novecento surely celebrates its masters, mainly Boccioni whom I particularly dislike.

Piero Manzoni
Yes, it’s a little bit childish, but I love the integrated slap in the face of the whole pretentious art scene.
Piero Manzoni: Merda d’artista (The artist’s shit)

At this moment there is a special exhibition on Italian art in connection with the US, and there are some Fontanas and some De Chiricos and it’s fine. Since you have to go there for the architecture and the views from the 4th and 5th floor, it won’t hurt to take a look at this event, too.

Museo Novecento
Entrance of the special exhibition “New York New York”.
On the left side Lucio Fontana: Spatial Concept. New York Skyscrapers, next to it Pietro Consagra: New York City

900 Museo del Novecento 
Via Marconi 1
Phone: +39 – 02 -88 44 40 61
Email: c.museo900@comune.milano.it

Palazzo della Triennale

I was also at the Palazzo della Triennale, but it was nothing what I expected, but very confusing: There is the Triennale Teatro dell’Arte going on, a theater festival, and everybody was all hyper and there were long queues and I felt a tad confused and completely out of place.

Tiempo delle donne
Me being part of an art project.
I didn’t really get what the whole thing was all about, but I take every chance to make a fool of myself.

Then they have a quite neat exhibition on design for kids (that I’ve just recommended some other guest at my B&B since she’s here with a small child and it’s still pouring), There were many kids, and I’m happy that their parents introduce them to the world of exhibitions because it might hold them back from slapping their flat hand on a Kandinsky painting like a maybe 8 years old girl did at the Novecento. Only when her mother saw me hyperventilating, she told her better not to slap Kandinsky.

Museo Disegno Triennale
Pretty cute: You enter the exhibition over a bridge that’s Pinocchio’s nose.
Come to think about it, it’s also a bit gross.

Palazzo della Triennale 
Viale Alemagna,6
20121 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 72 43 41
Email: info@triennale.org

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10.30 a. m. to 8.30 p. m.

Museo delle Culture (MUDEC)

I was afraid that “The Klimt Experience” would be exactly what it turned out to be: It’s a poorly made assembly of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, pictures of him and his circle and of Vienna in his time.
Accompanied by all the Austrian popular tunes – starting with….of course “The Blue Danube”!
To screen this “experience” they’ve built some sort of big tent where there’s room for I’d say 150 people. These people are sitting there watching Klimt’s painting passing by.
I don’t get the concept. This is like making a comic book of Proust’s “In Search Of Lost Time” – easifying it because the real thing is not entertaining enough?!

The Klimt Experience
Surrounded by a painting.

I’ve seen something similar about a year ago in Berlin: “Hieronimus Bosch. Visions Alive”.

Bosch alive in Berlin
The people that organized the Bosch-show took it to the max: Visitors were even able to become part of an artsy freak show. Did I mention that I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself?

Even there I was skeptical, but with Bosch’s fabulous creatures from heaven and hell it still somehow makes sense that they are moving around you; actually I think it must be very disturbing watching Bosch’s imaginary friends moving around when you’re not …completely sober.
But Klimt’s elegant ladies?
What’s the point in letting Judith rotating in six different sizes around me while I have to listen to some cheesy waltz?
The show is screened every day for hours and still people had to wait in line since the tent is constantly full.
When I left it was drizzling so people waited in the rain.
I wanted to shoo them away: Do something else, it’s not worth the wait watching Judith rotate, go home or have a aperitivo at some nice bar.
But I let them see for themselves and instead I left to get an aperitivo.


This is how a long day has to end: With a big glass of Aperol Spritz and some niblets.

I’ll be in Vienna for Christmas where I’ll see all the Klimt originals and none of them will rotate around me.

Museo delle Culture (MUDEC)
Via Tortona 56,
20144 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 549 17 |
Email: info@mudec.it

Open on  Monday from 2.30 p. m. till 7.30 p. m, Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 a. m. to 7. 30 p. m. (Thursday and Saturday till 10.30 p. m. – no, this is not a mistake, they are open till very late!)


Ugly can be just gorgeous, every fan of industrial chic knows that. Therefore numberless art venues are to be found in abandoned industry sites which obviously have the advantage to offer enough space even for humongous installations.

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Going to the Hangar, you will get to know a pretty ugly neighborhood – but that’s one side of Italy, too.

The Seven Heavenly Palaces

And one of the highlights of the HangarBicocca gallery, established in 2004 on a former industrial site, is the humongous installation “The Seven Heavenly Palaces” by Anselm Kiefer: seven towers made of concrete and other construction material, 14 to 18 meters / 46 to 60 feet high – at which other venue could he have installed something like that?!

Anselm Kiefer at Hangar Bicocca
When Anselm Kiefer is at work, heavenly palaces can become pretty hellish.
Anselm Kiefer at Hangar Bicocca
One of five the towers accompanying paintings: Die deutsche Heilslinie (German line of salvation)

From Source to Poem to Rhythm to Reader

This is an installation of projections and films by Rosa Barba, of whom I’ve never heard before although she has participated in several Biennales and showed her work at the most prestigious venues. Anyway, at the Hangar you can see her work till October 8, 2017.


Even before you reach the site, which by the way covers 15.000 qm / more than 161,000 square feet, you can enjoy a great piece of art – namely street art: The Brazilian twins Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo (born 1974) who adopted – very clever! – the name Osgemeos, meaning ‘twins’, did decorate one part of the hangar with their graffiti. This is the first of the “Out of the Cube”-project the gallery initiated.

Osgemeos - Hangar Bicocca
Osgemeos: Efêmero

#arttothepeople is this gallery’s motto, hence entrance is free. I personally find that this for one sounds a bit marieantoinettish, plus I’m a bit torn when it comes to free entrance: In London all public permanent exhibitions are free and I saw people – kids and grownups alike – doing the most incredible things to the exhibits like touching paintings and climbing on statues to take pictures. Museums degenerated to playgrounds and covered markets. If that’s the result of free entrance, please triple whatever you’re charging now!

Pirelli HangarBicocca 
Via Chiese 2
20126 Milano
Phone: +39 – 02 – 66 11 15 73
Email: info@hangarbicocca.org

Fondazione Prada

While the HangarBicocca is in the middle of nowhere all the way North, I had to cross town to the South East to get to another posh venue founded by another stinking rich company: Prada. Here my thanks go out to all people who shop their stuff and thusly finance their foundation.

Subway Milan
Taking the subway in Milan: Even half a minutes are announced. Do you get now, why they are called German Italians?

Fondazione Prada has venues in two North Italian cities, Milan and Venice. You’ll read about latter next week, here is what’s to see at the Milan branch, that used to be a distillery and was transformed into a art gallery the size of 19.000 qm / more 204,500 square feet, whereby three new buildings were added to the existing seven.

Fondazione Prada
A golden entrance. Quite promising.

There is the permanent exhibit of Thomas Demand’s ”

“Processo Grottesco”

, a grotto that Demand built in layers of cardboard and photographed it in a way that you have to look really close to see that it’s artificial; like he does with all motives of his photographs.

Thomas Demand at Fondazione Prada
The grotto model made of cardboard layers. Photographed by me.
Thomas Demand - Fondazione Prada
The grotto model made of cardboard layers. Photographed by Thomas Demand.
And then photographed by me.

The other permanent exhibition is in the so-called “Haunted House”: There are installations by Louise Bourgeois on the two lower floors and by Robert Gober on the three upper. Since the “Haunted House” is very narrow, it can be visited only during time slots.

Louise Bourgeois at Fondazione Prada
Louise Bourgeois: Cell (Clothes)
Robert Gober at Fondazione Prada
Robert Gober – part of his installation for the 4th floor of the “Hounted House”

At this moment there is a special exhibition by Francesco Vezzoli that’s probably much more fun if you are Italian respectively very familiar with Italian TV, but it’s also well worth seeing if you’re not because it’s set up very nicely.

Francesco Vezzoli installed “TV 70. Guarda la Rai” in four different halls:


On large screens artists are interviewed or filmed and at the opposite wall is an example of their art – sometimes the one you see in the TV feature.

Giorgio di Chirico
Giorgio di Chirico in an interview to the right (he seems to be quite a grouch) and the painting which he’s working
on in this feature to the left (in the dark, but you can trust me, it’s there)
Pistoletto at Fondazione Prada
Michelangelo Pistoletto explaining his mirror-art to a reporter – and behind him the very mirror.
Pistoletto and me at Fondazione Prada
Michelangelo Pistoletto: Serigrafo Bianco – and me.


In five galleries, garishly furnished with elements that could as well be part of a TV setting, the tackiest TV shows are screened – put into dialogue with corresponding photo series.

Grace Jones
Grace Jones singing in Italian while taking a bubble shower.
Congruously screened in a room next to photographs of transvestites.
Cicciolina at Fondazione Prada
Cicciolina singing “C’era due volte” and writhing through blinding colors. No wonder Jeff Koons went nuts.
Tomaso Binga
Tomaso Binga: Alfabetiere murale


At the cinema a collage of different TV fragments is screened.


While the exhibition at the South gallery shows the shallow, tacky, even moronic TV snippets in a gay, colorful environment, the upper floor of the Podium is painted pitch black and the small TV screens show news from the 70s dealing with murder, bombings and other terror attacks. If you think Europe is an insecure place right now, this part of the exhibition reminds you that some European countries have had to cope with terrorism already years ago.

Fondazione Prada Milano
Largo Isarco 2
20139 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 56 66 26 11
Email: info@fondazioneprada.org

Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a. m. to 8 p. m. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to 9 p. m.)

Tip: Keep your ticket since it gives you free access to the observatory at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC)

I didn’t even do it on purpose, but actually I’ve saved the best for last: “Africa. Raccontare un mondo/Africa. Telling a World”, presenting 33 artist from various generations, countries, and backgrounds using different materials and media to implement their art.

Last year during my language course in Milan, I saw an extraordinary exhibition of Cuban art that really impressed me a lot; and this one on African art is just as wonderful. Seems to me the PAC seems to be a venue one should never leave out when in Milan.

PAC Milano
Barthélémy Toguo: Road to Exile
PAC Milano
Chéri Samba: Quel avenir pour notre art? (Which future for our art?) – and that’s a question asked by one of Africa’s most
famous and recognized artists. But he’s right: I’ve only seen his work in exhibitions on African art, never in a permanent
collection. Picasso is shown everywhere – whether in context with Spanish art or not.
PAC Milano
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: Les Rires (The laughs)
Mister Bouabré, who sadly died in 2014, was presented in two venues on the Venice Biennale in 2013.
PAC Milano
Remarkably many artists show sculptures made of trash – a reproach also to Europe flooding Africa with our discards.
In the front Amadou Fatoumata Ba: A Petit Fauteuil Tressé (Little woven chair) and
in the back: Romuald Hazoumé: “W”, a totem made of  a ski, a toilet seat and a receiver.

Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC)
Via Palestro 14
20122 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 44 63 59

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 a. m. to 7.30 p. m. (Tuesday and Thursday to 10.30 p. m.)

I had great plans getting a wonderful aperitivo at my favorite bar since it’s my last evening, but it was raining so hard and I was soaked so I just grabbed some grilled chicken and some Gnocchi at the supermarket and ate in my room at the B&B.

Guys, after this weekend I will be so ready to write the rain-part of the upcoming “24 hours in Milan”-piece….

Fondazione Prada
Looking at the golden “Hounted House” through the falling rain.

I love to listen to music that reflects the atmosphere of the place, therefore here Lucio Dalla’s hymn to Milan:

Sadly, Lucio Dalla – who was a wonderful poet – died in 2012. But he left us his tender songs.

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