Milan, work delayed at Palazzo Citterio: Brera shows 20th century works anyway, in large glass containers

In Milan, work on the Palazzo Citterio is delayed, and the Pinacoteca di Brera decides to exhibit the modern art masterpieces anyway, in an unusual arrangement.

In Milan, work is delayed at Palazzo Citterio, the building that in the future will house the Pinacoteca di Brera’s modern art collection: the Superintendent’s Office considers the restoration to be complete, but according to the museum’s management, the building needs new work as it is currently deemed unsuitable to house the new museum venue. Palazzo Citterio, in fact, will house the modern art collection of the Pinacoteca di Brera: so, while waiting, the museum has nevertheless decided to show the public the masterpieces of the 20th century in a new layout that will be visible to the public starting in May. One hundred works from the Pinacoteca, belonging to the Jesi and Vitali collections and donations, will once again be installed in the center of the Napoleonic salons, in rooms IX and XV and in the open storage of room XXIII. The rearrangement will begin May 13 and will be completed by June 21.

The twentieth-century works, brought together largely on the initiative of Franco Russoli, who was director of the Pinacoteca for 20 years (from 1957 to 1977), represent one of the Braidense museum’s most popular sections with the public. And since it is not yet possible to move them to the location for which they are intended (Palazzo Citterio, to be precise), the works will therefore be displayed again in the Pinacoteca (they have been in storage for about a year). The idea of the Pinacoteca is precisely to evoke a depository: the rearrangement will therefore take its cue from the racks typically used for paintings in storage. Special containers with transparent glass panes and metal grids will therefore be created in the center of the rooms, adding to the visible storage in use in Room XXIII. The idea of using these storage-containers, designed for this occasion, stems from space requirements and also allows the arrangement of the permanent collection, and thus the walls of the rooms affected by the project, not to be changed. The relocation in the museum itinerary of the Jesi and Vitali collections is also intended to respond to the conditions set at the time of the generous donations.

In fact, Brera has had the privilege of becoming, since the 1970s, the place of destination of the main art collections of the early twentieth century. The collector Emilio Jesi, and later his wife Maria Arrighi, from 1976 to 1984 (with final delivery of some pieces in the early 1990s), donated to the Pinacoteca eighty masterpieces made by important painters and sculptors of that era (we are talking about artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Filippo de Pisis, Mario Mafai, Marino Marini, Giorgio Morandi, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso). Of the donation by America and Lamberto Vitali (from 1992), however, the choice was made to exhibit only the painting section of a larger collection, known for its heterogeneity both chronologically and typologically, which also counts numerous archaeological objects: from Egyptian vases to Mycenaean jewelry to Romanesque sculptures. Panel paintings and medieval mosaics (such as those from the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio) will then be on view, along with 18th- and 19th-century works by Alessandro Magnasco, Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Adriano Cecioni, and especially the masterpieces of Giorgio Morandi.

As soon as the layout is completed, the museum will also have the authors of the works “speak.” in fact, a cycle of readings of excerpts selected from the correspondence between the artists and the collectors is planned, which will offer the public some insights, totally unpublished, into the daily life of the masters, economic difficulties, successes at exhibitions, perplexities regarding the works, sales, friendship with the Jesi couple, and the great nightmare of the war.

This remounting operation was made possible thanks to the support of the Giulio and Giovanna Sacchetti Foundation, which already in the fall of 2018 made a fundamental contribution to the plan to remount the museum’s nineteenth-century rooms, the final part of the vast redevelopment of the entire Pinacoteca, a three-year project (2016 - 2018) to completely renovate the exhibition spaces. “The rearrangement of the modern collections,” said Pinacoteca Director James M. Bradburne, “is not only about bringing the twentieth century back to the heart of the Pinacoteca di Brera, while waiting for Palazzo Citterio, but is part of our philosophy of a visible museum, with the museum continuing to transparently show its relevance, participation and commitment.”

Pictured: Giorgio De Chirico, Still Life (1918; oil on canvas, 68.5 x 72 cm; Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera)

Milan, work delayed at Palazzo Citterio: Brera shows 20th century works anyway, in large glass containers
Milan, work delayed at Palazzo Citterio: Brera shows 20th century works anyway, in large glass containers

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