11 June, 2024

5 open air works of art to photograph in Milan 

opere d'arte milano

Ph Adrian Balasoiu Via Unsplash

If going to shows and openings is one of the favourite activities of Milan residents in their free time – and it’s no coincidence that the Lombardy capital accounts for 12% of national expenditures on cultural events according to data issued in 2023 by the Osservatorio dell’Associazione Italiana Editori [Observatory of the Association of Italian Editors] – the spring season is perfect for an open-air “art tour”. 

It’s enough to walk around the city to realise how many beautiful things Milan has to offer among site-specific sculptures and urban redevelopment interventions. Here you’ll find 5 highly ‘Instagrammable’ works of contemporary art spread throughout key points of the metropolitan area, from Cadorna to City Life!

1) The Coloris sculpture (CityLife)

Among the works distributed throughout the city part of City Life at the Three Towers, the most photographed is certainly that of Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou, “Coloris”, composed of a large group of coloured poles depicting the Earth’s planisphere. There is an egg positioned atop each pole which range in height from 6 to 12 metres. The invitation that the author directs at the spectator is to embrace the complexity of life in its every form and colour, caressing the idea of a world without borders or exclusions. 

2) Grande disco – The Great Disc (San Babila)

It’s called the Great Disc and it represents a solar disc placed vertically in order to admire both of its faces. The bronze sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro, dated 1972, is visible in the heart of Piazza Meda (in the immediate vicinity of San Babila and the Quadrilatero della Moda). The work, among the most representative of the Italian Post-modernist sculptor, gives a wink to the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo and emphasizes the dramatic tension between the exterior smoothness and the internal fissure.

3 – Bagni Misteriosi – Mysterious Baths (Triennale)

The fountain of the Bagni Misteriosi (Mysterious Baths) is the largest sculptural work by Giorgio de Chirico, created in 1973 for the occasion of the fifteenth Triennale exhibition, and today displayed in the garden of the Milan Triennale at 6 Via Emilio Alemagna. It is a sinuously shaped pool from whose waters emerge figures of two swimmers and a series of objects (among which are a swan and a fish) what recall the childhood of the artist in Volos, Greece, affirming his fanciful humour and dreamy gaze. 

4 – Ago, Filo e Nodo – Needle, Thread and Knot (Cadorna)

Although it is a well-known element for Milan residents, this site-specific sculpture remains a wonderful anthem to pop art made by a couple of famous American artists, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, commissioned by architect Gae Aulenti in the late 1990s. Purposely located at a crucial point of the city transport system, Piazzale Cadorna – a high traffic area that the work seems to want to resew together – Ago, Filo and Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) praises the industriousness of the Milanese and their dedication to the world of work.

5 – Il cavallo di Leonardo – the Horse of Leonardo (Ippodromo Snai)

Among the largest equestrian statues of the world, Leonardo’s horse – originally part of an equestrian monument of Duke Francesco Sforza – was designed by the famous Florentine inventor, but never completed. Its exact replica is signed by American sculptor Nina Akamu who, using the designs of the master, made a model in clay nearly 8 metres height from which she produced the moulds for casting the molten bronze. Since 2001, it has towered in front of the entrance to the Snai Hippodrome of San Siro and has been confirmed as the symbol of the MIFF Awards (the International Film Festival of Milan).