Say the name “Cardi” in the Milanese art world, and you’re talking about one of two world-renowned Italian dealers: father, founder of Cardi Gallery in 1972, credited for launching the careers of artists like Lucio Fontana and Michelangelo Pistoletto, and son, young entrepreneur Nicolò Cardi, creator of Cardi Black Box, the contemporary branch of the family legacy. As the world looks to Milan for miart, the city’s contemporary art fair, we zero in on Nicolò—who splits his time between London, New York, and Milan—for insights on the Italian art scene he’s been privy to since birth. In the past few years, his gallery, Cardi Black Box, has added to the Cardi name an eclectic, experimental, “museum like” program, known for a mix of emerging and internationally recognized artists—named not for the conventional white cube but the concept of a “black box,” born of the overlapping paint, shapes, and ideas of its exhibitions. Here, Nicolò shares the astute observations his current position, and heritage, have granted:
Artsy: Can you describe the neighborhood where your gallery is located? Why did you choose to open a space in that particular area—and generally, in Milan?
Nicolò Cardi:The gallery is located in the Brera neighborhood, which is the traditional area for galleries. It’s very central and easily reachable. I decided to open a gallery in Milan because it’s my city: it’s the city where my father opened his gallery in 1972 and where I’m always happy to go back, even for a few days, since I actually live between London and New York.
Artsy: Can you describe the current art scene in Milan? What is new and exciting? How would you describe the collector base? How does Milan fit into the larger Italian art scene?
NC: Milan is an art city by tradition, with Accademia Di Brera established in 1776. The art scene in Milan is interesting considering the number of galleries that have their space in the city. They are well known in the international art world and they show international artists and great projects. In the last few years, new small galleries have been established and they are making their way in Milan and abroad working on interesting projects with young artists—both Italian and international from all over the world. There are also several nonprofit spaces that are interesting to follow. There’s a new generation around Accademia Di Brera and the other art schools that is very active in the city and work well with the established galleries. There are a lot of collectors in Milan that have followed the activities of our gallery since the beginning; they are discreet and sophisticated, and have incredible collections. Milan is for sure the first art city in Italy, followed by Turin.
Artsy: Can you name any events or exhibitions a visitor to the miart fair should be certain not to miss?
NC: As I mentioned, I don’t live in Milan and I’ve been away for a few months now but the shows at Hangar Bicocca are always interesting to see and well done. The shows and projects by Fondazione Prada, Fondazione Trussardi, and PAC (with its new curatorial direction) are never to be missed and also the nonprofit space Peep-Hole is always worthy to check out. Also the Triennale museum with the new projects by Edoardo Bonaspetti is very interesting.
Artsy: Can you tell us briefly about your miart booth as a whole?
NC: Cardi gallery will showcase a high quality curated project dedicated to Italian art of the ’60s and the ’70s. Italian masters such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, and Fausto Melotti will be on display in dialogue with the artists of the Arte Povera movement such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero e Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini, and Jannis Kounellis, among others.
CARDI GALLERY, miart 2014, Milan, Established, Booth B31, Mar. 28th–30th.