Milan's Expo is still one month away, but the very first pavilion dedicated to the universal exhibition - and the only one that will be located in the city centre - has opened its doors inside Milan's Triennale Design Museum. Entitled 'Arts & Foods: Rituals since 1851', the exhibition takes on the Expo's overarching theme of sustainable food but peers at it with an artistic lens. And the results are, in a word, delectable.
Curated by Germano Celant, the prolific artistic director of the Prada Foundation and curator of Milan's Fondazione Aldo Rossi, the exhibition sprawls across the entire 7,000 square metres of the museum, including its outdoor garden. It's like a never-ending feast of food-related objects, tools, paintings, installations, rooms and ambiences from 1851 to the present.
The first room of the exhibition, dedicated to the period between 1851 and 1948, is the most densely packed, cohesively designed and powerfully conceived. It features a fascinating mix of antique cooking tools, kitchen furniture and butcher stations to real Florentine bars from the early 20th century that have been painstakingly reconstructed, bottle-by-bottle. A magnificent collection of antique silverware, loaned by Milan's famous G. Lorenzi cutlery company, is on show, as are thoughtful portraits of chefs by Monet and Manet and an array of mid-century kitchen accessories.
Other rooms are dedicated to the 1950s, 60s and 70s, as well as to contemporary art's dealings with food. It's a tribute to Celant's profile that he's managed to wrangle top works by major artists such as Andy Warhol ('The Last Supper' and his infamous Campbell's soup cans), Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Tom Sachs, Marc Quinn and Urs Fischer (whose 'Bread House' smells just a little bit stale after nearly 10 years of circulation), even though their assembly makes less impact than the first historical room. No matter; Paul McCarthy's giant, inflatable ketchup bottle, which has been planted in the centre of the Triennale's lush park like a plastic skyscraper, makes up for it.
Also noteworthy is Gaetano Pesce's site-specific installation (the only one in the whole museum) which features giant pieces of kitchenware on a glass floor along with a group of actors chatting, cooking and fighting (what kitchen hasn't seen that?), all visible by nosy viewers looking up from the floor beneath.
This ambitious exhibit shines the spotlight on Milan's Triennale, shaking up this sometimes sleepy institution just in time for the Expo. Not only is the green garden in full aperitivo action but it also has water in its fountains for the first time in 50 years, thanks to the restoration of Giorgio de Chirico's 'Bagni Misteriosi'. In tandem with the brimming activity is a proper - and long overdue - restaurant opening up on the museum's first floor that features a balcony overlooking the park.
Triennale di Milano
Viale Alemagna 6
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Artist Villu Jaanisoo’s rubber armchairs backdrop a full-throttle Acne Studios A/W 2024 collection
Acne Studios’ creative director Jonny Johansson tells the story behind his A/W 2024 show set, revealed in Paris this evening, which reflected the collection’s full-throttle, biker-inspired mood
By Orla Brennan Published
This LED Mask by myBlend is sculptural, cinematic, and tech-forward
myBlend’s LED Mask is contoured to the face and neck, with pre-set programmes to treat different skin types
By Hannah Tindle Published
How Vanya’s set design went from stage to NT Live screen
As Vanya, starring Andrew Scott, hits the big screen with NT Live, set designer Rosanna Vize describes retaining the intimacy of London’s National Theatre show
By Hannah Silver Published
Celebrate 160 years of Martini, the iconic aperitivo
We mark 160 years of Martini & Rossi, creator of the original Martini Rosso vermouth, a perfect blend of fragrant botanicals and sweet wines
By Tianna Williams Published
Cin cin: discover the story behind Campari, Milan’s signature aperitivo
Where better to indulge in the delights of the Italian golden hour than Milan, the home of Campari? We trace the origins of the city’s signature aperitivo
By David Taylor Last updated
Buccellati sets the table for conviviality at Milan Design Week 2022
Designers Dimorestudio, Ashley Hicks, Chahan Minassian and Patricia Urquiola create spectacular dinner table designs for Buccellati’s Milan Design Week exhibition, ’Il Galateo – a journey into conviviality’
By Mary Cleary Last updated
Meta is poised to be Milan’s new food destination
Meta is a new culinary concept space that brings the best of Italian food and design together in one place
By Mary Cleary Published
Dimorestudio’s much-anticipated Langosteria Cucina opens in Milan
Langosteria Cucina is the new Milan restaurant designed by Dimorestudio that promises to be one of city’s next hotspots
By Laura May Todd Last updated
Tate Modern creates Andy Warhol-inspired menu
Coinciding with Tate Modern's major Andy Warhol retrospective (March 13 – 6 September 2020), Tate Eats has created ‘Flavours from "The Factory"' – a menu inspired by the late king of pop art. Hungry?
By Elly Parsons Last updated
Super bowl: designers are throwing shapes in the pasta world
By Emma Moore Last updated
We’re at the sharp end of sophisticated postprandial entertaining with our tool kit
By Pei-Ru Keh Last updated