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The Twentieth Century

The other major exhibition dedicated to the permanent collections is Cantiere del ’900,  the  project dedicated to promoting the 20th and 21st century works of Intesa Sanpaolo, an important collection at national level for its quality and its comprehensive representation of the artistic production of this period.

Formed  of over 3,000 works, the most important displayed in the Gallerie  d’Italia of Milan and Naples, it includes large collections belonging to the main  movements of the period, focusing particular attention on the  protagonists of the post-war period.
The exhibition in Piazza Scala, in the bright and airy spaces of the former headquarters of Banca Commerciale Italiana, displays a selection of masterpieces dating from the 1950s to the 1980s which,  across five rooms and the hall that connects them, examines various different trends.
Alongside works by Fontana, Burri, Vedova, Afro, Dorazio, Schifano and Manzoni, expressing the views of the biggest artistic movements of the 50s and 60s, some of the different directions taken by the formal research of that period are examined.

In the hall the sculptures by Carrino and Staccioli - based on the idea of construction but also on the interpretation of architectural spaces and characters - are displayed alongside the works by Pascali and Cavaliere which, conversely, show how sculpture is also form and storytelling. In addition to these, the works by Colla and Fontana dialogue with the Variable geometries room. The side rooms are defined by certain key criteria shared by the works, leveraging on formal and thematic factors.

The Ideas of space section includes informal works by Fontana and Vedova dating to the 1950s and 60s which, respectively, examine space as a metaphorical place and a matter for investigation.

The room dedicated to Prints, traces, memories examines the relationship between memories of figures and images and the way the tangibility of materials is able to go beyond them. From the work of Santomaso, which expresses the poetry of the “abstract-concrete” critical concept espoused by Lionello Venturi at the start of the 50s, to the pictorial-material works of Burri, this section highlights a dialogue in which Afro, Burri and Scialoja reconcile the abstract with the informal to work on the middle ground between memories of personal experience and physical intervention on the surface of the canvas.

At the other end of the spectrum, Variable geometries examines how dialogue with abstract geometric and colourful forms constructed with absolute individual liberty represented one of the foundations of a post-war art movement in Italy and elsewhere. From Munari to Dorazio, Tancredi to Varisco, with the sculptures by Consagra and Colla (in the hall), this trend is examined through the protagonists of the non-figurative movements of the 1940s and 50s.

The Reflections on painting and sculpture section looks back at how in the 1970s many artists stopped to reflect on the sense of using certain painting and sculpture practices, reformulating the essential features of their art forms. The work by Verna, a meditation on form, space and the reasons for painting, opens a section in which artists associated with what was defined at the time as the “analytical painting” movement are displayed alongside other forms of exploration of colour and painting, as well as a number of works by sculptors, from Uncini to Spagnulo and Mattiacci, focusing on the materials and forms of a sculpture that opens up to the space and the environment, even in the smallest works.

Sign, space, surface focuses on the concept of the “symbol”, understood as both a form of calligraphic ancestry and an aspect of the communicative style, expressed in iconic and verbal forms. The works on display draw parallels between the Roman scene of the 1950s-60s, represented by Capogrossi, Accardi, Perilli, Novelli, Sanfilippo and Rotella, with that of the Milan area where conversely Crippa, Melotti and Castellani interpret symbolic forms and practices in the physical space. The word-image works of Boetti and Baruchello, with the sculptures of Mannucci and Maraniello, complete this possible exploration of the theme.


Discover all the artworks of the Gallerie d'Italia

Download the informational material on the Cantiere del ‘900 collection.


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The app has also been designed for interaction with the museum areas and installations, thanks to beacon technology which allows the users to position themselves inside the museum (indoor positioning), receive news about museum events, and find their way around the underground areas. Furthermore, by scanning the QR codes scattered around the exhibition, it is possible to see the information cards of the works.