Turin | XXI C Art

Turin, first capital and grande dame of Italy, was ever a stately hub of learning (and good food, and publishing, cinema, finance and sport, not to mention the once-thriving automobile industry). History abounds but post-industrial Turin flourishes, and contemporary art has become as much a speciality as bagna càuda, vermouth and gianduiotti. Guided by a resident art expert, an Urban Italy Turin Contemporary Art Tour takes in the cream of museums, spaces and galleries at the leading edge of the art world. There’s an awful lot to choose from, and many are housed in fascinating ex-industrial premises.


  • Lingotto, adistrict renowned for its extraordinary 1920’s FIAT factory later transformed by Renzo Piano.
  • The Pinacoteca Agnelli, intimate and unmissable, is an ad hoc, futuristic addition up on the roof of that building (where the test track used to be). Its permanent collection includes works from the 1900’s; temporary exhibitions are more present-day avant-garde.
  • Parco Arte Vivente (PAV), in a sizeable park and an interactive indoor space for meetings workshops and studios, PAV explores all those pathways linking art and nature, ecology and biotechnology, artists and non-artists. The creative results include environmental installations, a mandala garden by Gilles Clément, an art project involving beekeeping, and much more of a similarly uncommon ilk.
  • The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, a spirited cultural institution entirely dedicated to contemporary visual arts and housed in a vast, purpose-designed structure by Claudio Silvestrin. The Foundation works internationally with art-world  experts and emerging artists to present a range of educational activities as well as avant-garde exhibitions.
  • Public-space art at the intersection of Corso Lione and Corso Mediterraneo: the famous Igloo-Fountain by Mario Merz.
  • Fondazione Merz, which houses and displays the Milanese exponent of Arte Povera
  • A cutting-edge gallery established 45 years ago by Giorgio Persano. The prescient gallerista once welcomed and encouraged the artists of the Arte Povera movement, Merz among them. Today’s gallery in the San Donato quarter offers ample spaces for sizable experiments by the likes of  Lawrence Weiner, Michael  Biberstein, Jannis Kounellis, Lida Abdul, Jan Dibbets and well, too many more to list.
  • Galleria Franco Noero, which showcases works by emerging artists chiefly hailing from northern Europe and the US, specializing in site-specific installations, paintings and photography.
  • Museo Ettore Fico (MEF), in the middle of a huge urban renewal plan (of yet another abandoned industrial area), attracting studios, galleries and workshops from various artistic disciplines. Its cavernous spaces host exhibitions and various events focusing on modern and contemporary art.
  • The GAM, Turin’s classic, public museum of modern art in the city centre.
  • Turin’s seasonal events: Luci d’Artista, which illuminates the city’s streets and squares with spectacular light installations by eminent artists from the beginning of November to mid-January every year; Artissima, an annual contemporary art trade fair, held over three days in early November at the Oval events centre at the Lingotto.
  • Castello di Rivoli, it is unrivalled in Piedmont as a contemporary arts museum and houses Michelin-starred restaurant Combal.Zero too.