Mum's the word: Trussardi's 'La Grande Madre' exhibition opens in Milan

The exhibition occupies 29 rooms spread across the Palazzo Reale
'La Grande Madre' is taking place at the Trussardi Foundation in Milan. The exhibition occupies 29 rooms spread across the Palazzo Reale, one of the city’s most glittering institutions. Courtesy of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano
(Image credit: Marco De Scalzi)

Since artistic director Massimiliano Gioni came on board in 2002, the Nicola Trussardi Foundation (opens in new tab) has become famous for using the city of Milan as its own roving art-space. Usually, this involves commandeering a hidden basement, a crumbling palazzo, a public mall or, in the case of Maurizio Cattelan’s controversial 2004 mise-en-scene featuring three hanged children, an old oak tree on a traffic junction near the canals. 

But for its most recent exhibition, 'La Grande Madre', which opened this week, the Foundation went rogue – or rather, fully traditional. The show takes place across 29 rooms spread throughout the Palazzo Reale, one of the Milan's most glittering historical institutions.

The decision to colonise a classical art space was, to a certain degree, mandated by the scale and provenance of the art itself. 'The exhibit is enormous,' remarks Beatrice Trussardi, president of the foundation and daughter of the eponymous Nicola, who works closely with Gioni on each annual exhibit, including the recent wheatfield conceived by Agnes Denes and planted in the city’s Porta Nuova district. 'Plus, we have so many very important works that have been loaned by institutions and collectors that required heavily monitored conditions and security.'

The exhibition, which deals exclusively with the theme of motherhood, features over 400 works by 139 international, occidental artists made between 1900 and the present, including Diane Arbus, Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons. Three quarters of the artists are female and the topic of maternity is not just celebrated, but more often deconstructed, analysed and laid bare in its often unglamorous – sometimes horrifying – reality, for all the world to see.

The exhibition took two years to conceive and was planned to coincide with the city’s 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' expo theme. Gioni was not present for the press opening yesterday in Milan, a first for him. But he had a relevant – if somewhat ironic – excuse: he became a father for the first time 48 hours prior.

The theme of motherhood

The exhibition deals exclusively with the theme of motherhood, featuring over 400 works by 139 international, occidental artists. Courtesy of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano

(Image credit: Marco De Scalzi)

The topic of maternity

Three quarters of the artists are female and the topic of maternity is not just celebrated, but more often deconstructed, analysed and laid bare. Courtesy of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano

(Image credit: Marco De Scalzi)

Mother by Maurizio Cattelan

Mother [Madre], by Maurizio Cattelan, 1999. Courtesy of the Archivio Maurizio Cattelan

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

A mother holding her child

Julie, Den Hagg, The Netherlands, February 29 1994, by Rineke Dijkstra, 1994.

(Image credit: The artist and the Marian Goodman Gallery)

A mother holding her child behind glass window

Untitled (Perth Amboy), by Rachel Harrison, 2001.

(Image credit: The artist and Greene Naftali)

Mirror Check

Mirror Check, by Joan Jonas, 1970.

(Image credit: Roberta Neiman)

A Child is Born

Image from the series A Child is Born, by Lennart Nilsson, 1965.

(Image credit: Lennart Nilsson )

View of motherhood

The exhibition opens with a reassuring, clichéd view of motherhood at the turn of the 20th century, but quickly develops a tension also channeled in traditional female roles. Courtesy of the Archivio Maurizio Cattelan

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Woman holding a pregnant lady in swimming pool

Miggi & Ilene, Los Angeles, California, by Catherine Opie, 1995.

(Image credit: The artist and Stephen Friedman)

Mother holding child in her arms

Untitled #216, by Cindy Sherman, 1989.

(Image credit: The Collezione Metro Pictures  )

The exhibit

The exhibit took two years to conceive and was planned to coincide with Milan’s 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life' 2015 expo theme. Courtesy of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano

(Image credit: Marco De Scalzi)

Mumum, by Sarah Lucas

Mumum, by Sarah Lucas, 2012.

(Image credit: Sadie Coles HQ, London)

Mother with their children's

Migrant Mother, by Dorothea Lange, 1936.

(Image credit: The Library of Congress)

The press opening

Massimiliano Gioni – the foundation's artistic director – had a ironic excuse for not attending the press opening: he became a father for the first time 48 hours prior. Courtesy of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milano

(Image credit: Marco De Scalzi)

ADDRESS

Palazzo Reale
Piazza Duomo 12
Milan

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JJ Martin