In Milan, A Ritzy Collector Class and a New Institutional Landscape Bolster the Already Buzzing Miart Art Fair
The mood at the 2023 edition of the fair was bright.
Can Milan, the moneyed capital of Lombardy in northern Italy, finally stake its claim as a contemporary art hotspot? The opening of Milan’s Art Week in mid-April, organized around the 27th edition of the art fair Miart, marked a further step in that direction. It’s a slow but steady process that began with the reopening, after decades, of the Milan Triennale in 2015; the game-changing mega-exhibition ignited the coming out of the shadows of the city’s bigger creative industries: design and fashion.
And although last week’s Art Week, with its pared-back events and not-so-late-night negronis at Bar Basso, felt at times like a tame prelude to the big-ticket design fair Salone del Mobile, which opens this week, there was a palpable thrill in the air about where the city is headed. Two key events on the horizon will soon make an impact on Milan’s international standing: the opening of its first public museum for contemporary art, in 2024, at Piazza del Duomo, and the arrival of the 2026 winter Olympics to the region of Milan-Cortina, with the medal ceremony taking place on that same stunning piazza.
But until the museum opens, private foundations are still the main supporters of contemporary art in Milan, and the week kicked off on April 12 with cocktails at Fondazione Prada, where an exhibition by film director David Cronenberg featuring spooky 18th-century anatomical models from Florence’s La Specola museum is currently on view. The following morning, the aisles were bustling on Miart’s VIP preview day, with the city’s collector-class mirroring its convergence of fashion, design, and storied Italian lineages...
With international exhibitor numbers up 40 percent from last year, and new participants including established dealers like Esther Schipper, Clearing, or Crèvecœur—who all occupied prime corner booth real estate—Miart is going strong. “Collectors here are very open-minded, and have a deep aesthetic understanding,” said Sebastian Klemm, co-founder of Berlin’s Klemm’s gallery, a second-time exhibitor. Their booth, featuring moderately priced paintings by Fiona Mackay and hand-shaped sculptures by Émilie Pitoiset, made of vintage Hermès gloves, was performing well among the design-savvy collectors.