Milan's Greatest Artists Under One Roof
Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, "The Fourth Estate"
Since the beginning of the 20th century, modern art has continued to change and evolve, and for the art-loving residents of Milan the changes have often left them lost. Not lost theoretically or stylistically but actually lost. The museum has changed its name and location so many times that to many it was more of an idea then an actual place. All that has changed with the opening of the newly and definitively rechristened Museo Del Novecento, or the Museum of the 20th Century. Located in remodeled 1930s building, known as the Palazzo dell’Arengario, the 54,000 square foot space known houses a permanent collection of over 400 pieces of mostly painting and sculpture. The museum’s collection is international in scope but the heart of its mission is to reintroduce the people of Milan to their own artistic legacy.
The museum's entrance is a spiraling glass ramp that rises 460 feet upwards, lifting visitors to an ever-more dramatic view of the Duomo and the beckoning city beyond. Near the top, before the ramp reaches the first gallery, visitors are welcomed by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo’s masterpiece, “The Fourth Estate.” This enormous and gloriously romantic mural of workers and a young mother trudging off to work was painted in 1902 and has a powerful cinematic quality.
The museum has one of the world’s best collections of futurist paintings, including works by Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni. Futurism was born in Milan in the early days of the 20th century. The movement was all about the artist’s vision of the future. The futurists were obsessed with speed, technology, airplanes, cars and what it meant to be alive in an industrial city. In a preview to punk rock that was fifty years away, their founder Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinett declared "We want no part of it, the past.”
Umberto Boccioni, "Visioni Simultanee"
The museum is equally proud of its collection of foreign artists. Works by greats such as Braque, Klee, Matisse and Picasso help put Milan’s own contributions into the broader context of modern art. The museum has done a splendid job illustrating the flow of styles and moves seamlessly from Italian Novecento, to Monumental Art, Post-Impressionism all the way to Arte Povera and beyond.
The tower of the original Palazzo has been transformed to a gallery that shows works by Italian artist Lucio Fontana, whose large neon sculpture shines a bright beacon across the rooftops of the grand city.