If you thought Naples didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of contemporary art, it’s time to think again – and take a walk in the company of our professional guide. The place is in a state of artistic fermentation second to none in Europe, with the public sector amazingly leading the way.
In Naples, the underground art scene is an expression with a quite literal meaning. Around 15 Subway stations are stazioni d’arte: not daubed with the gothic fantasies of perennially dissatisfied youth, but designed by so-called archistars (among whom Dominique Perrault and Oscar Tusquets Blanca) moreover, stunning installations by Karim Rashid at the Università station, Joseph Kosuth and Jannis Kounellis at Dante, Franco Scognamiglio and Maria Cristina Crespo at Augusto, Sol LeWitt at Materdei. It’s a far-reaching ongoing project initiated some 15 years ago.
When it comes to museums, there’s the Madre, three whole floors of a grand 19th-century palazzo in the heart of historic Naples, redesigned by Alvaro Siza and devoted to contemporary arts. Furthermore, the Museo Nitsch. The Plart. Avant-garde only at The Fondazione Morra Greco. Plus, a mercurial exhibition space utterly transformed by whichever artist is showing: the Museo Apparente. There’s also a contemporary collection at the Capodimonte national museum.
Naples has some of the finest spaces, owners and dealers in the art business. Lia Rumma is a legendary Milanese gallerista who chose to open her second space right here. Moreover, Studio Trisorio with traditional and new media on the Riviera di Chiaia; Alfonso Artiaco where Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt and Carl André have exhibited; Casamadre gallery; La Casaforte in the Spanish Quarter, a private/public space where where Antonio Sacco, Valeria Borrelli and family live, work and host artists and shows.
When it comes down to aterliers, artists and designers, Michele Iodice is an old friend. But you also might want to visit interior designer Franco della Femmina and photographers Luciano Ferrara and Luciano Romano. You could also see installations by Marisa Albanese, beautiful, recurring-motif panels painted by Sergio Fermariello, wall paintings by Mariangela Levita and just about anything from eclectic artist/designer Riccardo Dalisi.
Retail downtime on the art &d esign theme could include checking out Idem for Marietta Tramontano’s gorgeous bags and other accessories, or E. Marinella for the finest neckties and tailoring, strictly Made in Naples. Or taking in fabulous design jewellery by Paola Grande or some home restyling ideas at La Casa Brutta, for example. Refreshment with the arts in mind is available at Trip and Spazio Nea, since cooking is an art for Mario Avallone of La Stanza del Gusto.