In the 1980s, an art tour of Milan might have begun with a knock on the door of Studio Marconi 17, Gió Marconi’s experimental space for young artists, collectors, and critics; or at his father Giorgio’s eponymous Studio Marconi, known for exhibiting legends of 20th-century art (and where a young Gió once organized a show of Ed Ruscha, Martin Kippenberger, and Jake and Dinos Chapman). By 1990, father and son came into cahoots as directors of a new space, Gió Marconi Gallery, which today is known for a brilliant mix of new-school European and international avant-garde and historic Studio Marconi artists—and is not-to-be-missed on a stroll through Milan. This week, on the occasion of miart contemporary art fair, where the gallery will present a solo show of work by German photographer Annette Kelm, we asked Gió Marconi about the Milan art scene as seen from his perch in the Porta Venezia neighborhood, and in the city where the Marconis have reigned for 40 years and counting.
Artsy: Can you describe the neighborhood where your gallery is located? Why did you choose to open a space in that particular area?
Gió Marconi: The Porta Venezia neighborhood where the gallery is located has a long history of foreign immigration and has developed over the last decades as one of the multi-ethnic areas of Milan, referred to as Milan’s “African district.” My father established the Studio Marconi in 1965 in Porta Venezia, and we have shared the gallery space since 1990.
Artsy: Can you describe the current art scene in Milan? What is new and exciting?
GM: The current art scene in Milan is very active, with nonprofit spaces such as Peep-Hole, Lucie Fontaine, Mars, and Le Dictateur, as well as the publishing house and magazine Mousse, established in 2006. I would suggest visiting young galleries such as Fluxia, Gasconade, and Federico Vavassori. The collector base in Milan has changed a lot; right now, I think the most active collectors are in the fashion industry.
Artsy: How does Milan fit into the larger Italian art scene?
GM: Milan has the most galleries and I would say right now, private and public institutions, such as the Triennale di Milano, Museo del Novecento, PAC, Hangar Bicocca, Foundation Trussardi, and Foundation Prada, to be open early next year.
Artsy: What are your favorite local haunts in Milan? Can you name your go-to places to eat, drink, and see art?
GM: My favorite restaurant is Trattoria Masuelli San Marco, established in 1921 with traditional Milan cuisine, and Ceresio 7, recently opened with a great view of the Milan skyline. For drinks, DRY Cocktails & Pizza.
A must stop in Milan is Boschi Di Stefano Museum-Home, an extraordinary private collection once inhabited by the married couple Antonio Boschi and Marieda Di Stefano. About 300 pieces are exhibited, selected from over 2,000 works donated to the city of Milan in 1974. The collection, which comprises paintings, sculptures, and drawings, is an extraordinary testimony to the history of 20th-century Italian art from the first decade to the end of the ‘60s.