Tagliata Tour

Lisa DeSimone on an evening of openings in Milan


Left: Artist T. J. Wilcox with dealer Raffaella Cortese. Right: Dealer Francesca Minini with artist Lisa Oppenheim. (Except where noted, all photos: Mattia Volta)

UNDAUNTED BY A STRING of empty airports along the way, I was lured briefly back to Milano last Thursday to join an unlikely gathering of artists and others for a convivial evening celebrating the city’s enduring art scene. No fewer than seven galleries opened a spate of lively ambitious shows, adding to the offerings already on view at other venues across town and confirming Milan’s preeminence as the art capital east of the Alps.

Immediately after landing, I headed for Lambrate to take the pulse of the galleries. At Massimo De Carlo, John Armleder staged an after-Christmas sale with funny-smart paintings bedecked with shiny ornaments and a selection of tinsel wreaths and trees doused with paint and pixie dust. After stops at Francesca Minini and Manuela Klerkx, I was approached by a mysterious woman who beckoned me through a dank tunnel to a cavernous raw space that looked like yet another casualty of the popped real estate bubble. The unheated new quarters of Galleria Zero, however, proved the perfect setting for a motley assortment of artifacts assembled by up-and-comer Danh Vo in his wistfully titled exhibition “Last Fuck.” Affixed directly to the towering concrete walls were, among other sundry items, a saddle used in the late ’50s by the last horseback missionary in Vietnam and a long chain hung with keys given to the artist by his ex-boyfriend, which purportedly unlocked a Tokyo hotel room, a Berlin apartment, and an Alfa Romeo (one hoped the car came with it).

Left: Dealer Gió Marconi. Right: Dealer Francesca Kaufmann, stylist Annalisa Milella, and dealer Chiara Repetto.

After Vo’s show, it was time to call on Galleria Raffaella Cortese for the opening of T. J. Wilcox’s “L’Eau de Vie,” an aquatic reverie braiding together tales of the spellbinding Marchesa Casati, a pool-bound baby turtle, and Japanese birds trained to catch and disgorge fish (try that with a worm). Gió Marconi unveiled a triple bill of fare with Vibeke Tandberg’s madcap collages upstairs and Wade Guyton’s ink-jet-printed canvases filling a suite of galleries on the ground floor. Although I’ve long been skeptical of this artist’s work, his grand outing here could teach us a thing or two about sprezzatura. Downstairs, in the basement, I happened on a gripping Venetian remake of Planet of the Apes, but I soon learned the video was actually a Catherine Sullivan work shot at a Miami palazzo and based on “a complex performative language called ‘Mousterian’ taken from theories of Neanderthal speech.”

Everyone gathered “halfway between Brera and Prada,” as Francesca Kaufmann could be overheard describing the location of her little complex, which was host to Thomas Zipp’s Italian debut. Her charming courtyard overflowed with guests including foreign dealers Guido Baudach and Gisela Capitain; local institutional grandees Gail Cochrane, Patrizia Brusarosco, and Flavio Del Monte; the ever-gracious Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; and artists Lisa Oppenheim and Maurizio Cattelan, who explained his carefully tallied nights in Milan as a safeguard against the taxman. In Kaufmann’s tiny adjacent space, Zipp installed an ominous marble figure and an electric organ on which famed German curator Veit Loers delighted the crowd with rousing renditions of the old Bach church favorite Auf meinen lieben Gott.

Left: Friedrich Petzel's Sam Tsao, artist Wade Guyton, curator Paola Clerico, and Francesa Maltese. Right: Artist Maurizio Cattelan.

The party continued at La Torre di Pisa, where Marconi, Kaufmann, and Cortese graciously hosted a cozy dinner for 120 guests. MAMbo curator Andrea Villani dropped in from Bologna with the star of his next show, Trisha Donnelly, adding to an artist-heavy crowd that also included locals Adrian Paci and Gianni Caravaggio. After three pasta courses (one for each gallery?) and a mountain of rare tagliata, everyone agreed that this night of collaboration injected a welcome sense of camaraderie into an apprehensive art world. Should such an evening become the rule, look for less red meat in the future.

Left: Dealer Mimmo Scognamiglio. Right: Dealer Rossana Ciocca and artist Giovanni Sabatini.

Left: Curator Milovan Farronato. Right: Collectors Cicci and Paolo Consolandi.

Left: Writer Viktor Misiano and artist Vadim Fishkin. (Photo courtesy Galleria Impronte) Right: Dealer Ludovica Barbieri and Milovan Farronato. (Photo: Mattia Volta)

Left: Artist Adrian Paci. Right: Curator Frank Boehm.

Left: Gió Marconi's Ylinka Barotto. Right: Collectors Paola and Paolo Agliardi.

Left: Collector Natalina Remotti. Right: Curator Stefano Basilico.