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Elle Decor Italia

Love, the exhibition to fall in love in Milan

39 contemporary art pieces dedicated to love at Palazzo della Permanente


Gilbert & George, Metalepsy, 2008. 381x604 cm. Courtesy: gli artisti e White Cube © Gilbert & George 

Every artist dedicated at least one piece to love. ‘Love – contemporary art meets love’ is an exhibition collecting 39 pieces about love and curated by Danilo Eccher. It will be open to visitors at Palazzo della Permanente in Milan until the 23rd of July, after its unexpected success at Chiostro del Bramante in Rome.


The pop and playful character of the exhibition, who won the hearts of Rome’s teenagers, is clear even in the free audioguides given at the entrance. With them, you will be able to choose a proper personality (not simply a narrating voice) that will guide you through the entire exhibition. Amy, Lily, John, Coco and David are some of the celebrities belonging to the artistic world that you can select. David, for example, is David Bowie, who will softly sing his songs between one piece and the other; highly recommended.

Robert Indiana, Love, 1966-1999. Sculpture, polychrome aluminium (red and gold), 91,5x91,5x45,75 cm. AP 3/4. Courtesy: Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, G.A.M., Bologna, Italia. © Robert Indiana by SIAE 2017 

Starting from the entrance, you’ll find Robert Indiana’s imposing and tautological aluminium sculptures, seemingly imperfect letters with a slanting O. Just after, Warhol’s most loved and reproduced icon, his One Multi-coloured Marilyn (Reversal Series). Later on, Wesselmann, with its metallic collage Smoker #3 (3-D), finds the sensuality embedded in a popular close-up such as this - a pair of two slightly open lips holding a cigarette.

Marc Quinn changes the monumentality of classic marble statues to eternalise the passionate kiss of two lovers (who really existed) with malformations. On the sides, a Love Painting made of post-its, notes and love declarations by the visitors and the cold almost-digital Flower Paintings. Francesco Vezzoli instead, restored two statue heads from the Roman times, a man from the 2nd century b.c. and a woman roughly of the same period, uniting them in an Eternal Kiss, not less pop of any other piece. 

On the left: Joana Vasconcelos, Coração Independente Vermelho #3 (PA) [Red Independent Heart #3 (AP)], 2013. Translucid plastic cutlery, painted iron, metallic chain, engine, power supply, sound installation. Songs by Amália Rodrigues: Estranha Forma de Vida [Strange Way of Life] (Alfredo Rodrigo Duarte/Amália Rodrigues), Maldição [Curse] (Joaquim Campos da Silva/Armando Vieira Pinto), Gaivota [Seagull] (Alain Oulman/Alexandre O'Neill). Authorized by IPLAY - Som e Imagem/(P) Valentim de Carvalho. 345x200x80 cm. Courtesy: FundaçãoJoanaVasconcelos,Lisbon Photo credit: DMF, Lisbon/©Unidade Infinita Projectos © Joana Vasconcelos Baptist by SIAE 2017. On the right: Marc Quinn, Kiss, 2001. Marble, 3rd Edition, 184x64x60 cm. © Marc Quinn Studio Courtesy: Marc Quinn studio 

From here, we go to Ragnar Kjartansson’s old fashioned sentimentalism with God, to a slightly horror love garden, The Clearing, by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg. She is a video artist and he is a musician, together they created poetry with grotesque and unusual art works. In the garden, you can walk among huge flowers and 3-D animations of people made of modelling clay and with excessive make-up, making them look disfigured. 

Between the glass walls overlooking via Turati and Vanessa Beecroft’s glossy and hieratic multi-ethnic love on the walls, you will find Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos’ baroque heart. Looking religious, like a crocheted ex-vow, it has been created with flaming red plastic cutlery. Hanging in the air, it rotates with Amalia Rodrigues’ notes (Portugal’s most renown fado singer) in the background, as a symbolic representation of a domestic fight.

Vasconcelos closes the exhibition with an equally imposing glass and wool totem representing her idea of femininity. On the opposite wall, there’s Tracey Moffatt’s Love video, collecting the most romantic cinematographic scenes of all times, to remind us of the high expectations art made us used to. 

Tracey Emin, My Forgotten Heart, 2015. Neon (snow white), 38x152,5 cm. Ed.2/3 Courtesy: Lorcan O'Neill Gallery. © Tracey Emin by SIAE 2017 

Tormented love is recalled by Tracey Emin, who was part of Young British Artists just like Marc Quinn and Gilbert&George. Emin’s neon signs are simple but at the same time fierce like song lyrics or diary notes. Its italic font betrays intimacy, like in My Forgotten Heart, You Saved Me and Those Who Suffer Love. In contrast but also in line with these autobiographic unhappy love signs, are Dutch Mark Manders’ sculptures. They are beautiful and realistic women faces stuck and scarred between wooden beams, chairs or trunks.

Gibert&George, couple in life and in art, crafted other masterpieces – a giant picture of themselves inside symmetric and totally self-referential iconographies. After them, there’s Francesco Clemente with its broken marital autobiographies and pierced hearts and Ursula Mayer with her art deco atmospheres of Crystal Gaze, loaded with ambiguity. 

Yayoi Kusama, Arrival of Spring [QA.B.Z], 2005. Silkscreen on canvas, 130,3x162 cm Courtesy YAYOI KUSAMA Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama 

The journey ends with a series of black and white pieces by the well-over-80 Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Back in the days, she influenced pop art and here, she proposes body elements such as lips, eyes and human profiles, repeated like units of measurement to create psychedelic and surreal suggestions.

Without claiming to be particularly representative or comprehensive around the theme of love in contemporary art, Love offers an interesting and fun collection. Most of all, it attempts to involve the public in person. For the first time, visitors are allowed to take pictures of all the exposed works and to post them on social media (with the hashtags #LoveMilano and #chiostrolove) and to personally interact with the exhibition by writing on walls, with markers, a note about love. 


by Lia Morreale / 13 April 2017


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