Dinner and a Show


Left: Martin Creed. Right: Beatrice Trussardi, president of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, with friend and Gaia Trussardi. (All photos: Marco De Scalzi)

Tuesday evening in Milan was so hot that there were more people out on the terrace overlooking the Piazza del Duomo than inside the Palazzo dell’Arengario. The building, which is in the pure Fascist style, currently houses a new exhibition by Martin Creed, organized by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi. Here, the British artist makes effective use of an entrance and a colonnaded corridor, employing the former as a backdrop for a striking video projection of a girl vomiting red liquid, and transforming the latter into a theatrical space by playing with the lights. Inside a third room, the source of a noise that could be heard as far away as the piazza was revealed to be the mechanically opening and closing lid of a white piano.

The foundation, named for the fashion designer who died seven years ago, is run by his daughter Beatrice. Having no permanent exhibition space in Milan, it occasionally occupies public spaces with the agreement of the city. Recent interventions were presented at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, for example, and in the atrium of the city’s main railroad station. It was fitting, then, that among the first people to appear at the opening was Stefano Zecchi, cultural commissioner of the right-wing City Council and a professor of aesthetics at the local state university, even though he is notoriously unsympathetic toward contemporary art. But—Zecchi aside, perhaps—the English artist’s deadpan humor is widely appreciated in Italy, and Massimiliano Gioni, the foundation’s artistic director, thought of him immediately upon discovering the building’s availability. Creed has a further Italian connection in the form of a house in Alicudi, an island off the Sicilian coast, which was the setting for a photographic project by his ex-girlfriend Paola Pivi.

Left: Gallerists Michele Maccarone, Francesca Minini, and Francesca Kaufmann. Right: Artist Patrick Tuttofuoco and Fondazione Nicola Trussardi Artistic Director Massimiliano Gioni.

At the opening, Creed was feted by a youthful crowd, many of whom were members of Milan’s burgeoning student population. It was appropriate, then, that he gave a lecture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera the next day. In addition to the students, a few well-known figures attended, including directors of museums both far (Fabio Cavallucci, from the Galleria Civica in Trento) and near (Milan-based Giacinto di Pietrantonio, from the Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea in Bergamo), critics and curators such as Francesca Pasini and Marco Meneguzzo, and gallery owners Claudio Guenzani and Giò Marconi, as well as others from the Lambrate district, Milan’s new art neighborhood. The city has few art events with an international profile—important artists have shows in private galleries, but rarely in public spaces—so it was heartening to see some non-Milanese dealers and other artists who had found success abroad, including Luca Vitone, Simone Berti, Francesco Bernardi, and Diego Perrone (invited by Gioni to exhibit in the current Berlin Biennale).

After a few hours of idling on the terrace, the group headed to dinner at the foundation’s quarters next to Teatro alla Scala, a buffet that, while delicious, was tiring to those expecting a sit-down affair. Many were impatient for Creed’s concert, slated for 9:30 PM. But it was not until over an hour later that the band—Creed and two young women—ventured onstage. Those who held out witnessed a rock set that was at once simple and energetic and blessed with an endearing, ironic wit, a precise corollary to Creed’s work and a fitting end to the evening.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Left: Guggenheim Senior Curator Germano Celant with Martin Creed. Right: Hauser & Wirth gallery director Gregor Muir with Michele Maccarone.

Left: The crowd at the opening. Right: Martin Creed.

Left: Gallerist Massimo De Carlo. Right: Gallerist Gió Marconi and his wife.

Left: Gisela Creed, the artist's mother, enjoys the show. Right: Collector Warly Tomei and Vogue Italia Art Editor Mariuccia Casadio.