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Here's what you shouldn’t miss while in the city, from a patriotic kiss to a middle finger pointed at economic powers
In Milan people queue to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, cross the Sforza Castle gardens and visit the Duomo. Art lovers go to Brera while design fans to the Triennale. But Milan remains an underestimated city from an artistic point of view. And what a pity that is. Here are some masterpieces you shouldn’t miss.
The real title of the work is Episode of Youth and painter Francesco Hayez created it in 1859. Two young people in medieval clothes passionately kiss; for this reason, the painting has become a symbol of Romanticism. The picture, however, has a far deeper meaning, involving the whole of Italy. It was during this time that the fight against the Habsburg empire for Italian independence and Garibaldi’s expedition of the Thousand took place. This painting represents the revolutionary impetus, the unification of Italy that in just two years would finally be achieved. Today, it is housed in the Brera Art Gallery.
A stream of people coming forward and demonstrating, active and eager to become the protagonist. This is the subject of the very famous painting, representing the worker protests of the late 1800s, but assuming a universal meaning, of humanity moving forward that relentlessly constitute the class struggle. The large painting was presented for the first time at the Turin Quadriennale in 1902, censored and then endorsed by the socialist movement. Many remember it for being in the credits of the movie Novecento by Bernanrdo Bertolucci. Having always been in Milan, the Fourth Estate remained at City Hall until 1980, before being moved to the Modern Art Gallery and then in 2010 to the newly opened Museo del Novecento in piazza Duomo.
Although the sculpture represents an insulting middle finger, artist Maurizio Cattelan named the work L.O.V.E., that in Italian is the acronym for freedom, hate, vengeance, eternity. It is exposed in front of the headquarters of the Milan Stock Exchange. The imposing sculpture in Carrara marble keeps up with the 1930s Palazzo Mezzanotte style, but it is obviously an iconoclast depiction against the economic power and ruling class. It was supposed to be on display for just a couple of weeks, but it has been there since 2012, warning institutions, and for you to snap fabulous selfies.
Seven imposing towers, made of concrete and lead, are on display in a completely dark hangar, where steps and words resonate in the shadows. The Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer speak of the works built by man in history to celebrate God and which are now only symbolic and real ruins of the will to rise to divine level. Since 2015, a new site-specific installation has been completing the work with a pictorial journey.
There are two versions of this painting: the most famous one is kept in the National Gallery in London, and a second version is preserved in Milan, in the Brera Art Gallery, in more somber tones and as the highest expression of the work of Caravaggio.
Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, is a self-sufficient building and a new model of urban architecture, biodiversity conservation and environmental regeneration. Designed by the Boeri studio and built before Expo 2015, today the two buildings of the Vertical Forest are the symbol of a new district, Porta Nuova, and much sought-after, luxurious residences. There are 800 trees, 4,500 shrubs and 15,000 plants managed by the building committee,a park developed into a new dimension.