18.11.2020. Naples & around
Announced here in August, the Le Sirenuse Guide is becoming ever more ambitious. As we were putting together our list of favourite places and insider secrets, we realised that the vibrant city of Naples and its historic surroundings really merit separate treatment. So the project now has a dual identity: the Le Sirenuse Guide to Positano, the Amalfi Coast & Capri and the Le Sirenuse Guide to Naples & the Bay will grow and evolve together, in a series of Sirenuse Journal posts over the next couple of years. Once the listings are complete, we hope to publish the two guides in a stylish pocket format – because for all the convenience of smartphone navigation, beautifully produced books will never lose their cachet.
The city in the shadow of Vesuvius has a volcanic cultural energy, but it’s only relatively recently that this has translated into a contemporary art scene of global relevance. Pioneers such as legendary galleristi Lia Rumma and the late Lucio Amelio laid the base for a vibrant meld that today takes in museums, galleries, exhibition spaces, private collections and public commissions – most notably in Naples’ new metro stations, where cutting-edge art and design venture underground.
A former aristocratic townhouse in downtown Naples houses this absorbing art space which rivals Turin’s Castello di Rivoli for the title of Italy’s most dynamic publicly owned contemporary art museum. The permanent collection is at its most engaging in a series of site-specific works by, among others, Daniel Buren, Jannis Kounellis, Mimmo Paladino, Richard Long and Francesco Clemente, whose Ave Ovo fresco and tiled floor bursts with archaic folk energy. Temporary exhibits mix shows by leading international artists with projects focusing on Naples’ artistic heritage.
Thomas Dane Gallery
This luminous art space occupies the airy, neo-classical first floor of 19th-century Casa Ruffo, with sweeping Bay of Naples views. It’s Dane’s only foothold outside of his London base, and his decision to expand here is a marker of Naples’ increasing art-world influence. Since opening in January 2018, the gallery has showcased artists that include Alex da Cunha, Glenn Ligon and Caragh Thuring – whose site-specific work Eruzione del 2020 was recently unveiled at Le Sirenuse.
Naples’ most celebrated gallerista, Lia Rumma has worked with an A to Z of artists from Marina Abramovic through William Kentridge and Joseph Kosuth to Gilberto Zorio. She opened her Neapolitan base in 1971 – today housed in a historic apartment in the Chiaia district – and added a Milan gallery in 1999. If there’s a show on here when you’re in town, don’t miss the opportunity, as it’s almost sure to be challenging, thought-provoking – and world-class.
Fondazione Morra Greco
Inaugurated in 2019, the new home and exhibition venue of private art foundation Fondazione Morra Greco drapes itself across the three floors and basement of Palazzo Caracciolo d’Avellino, a gloriously weathered 16th-century palazzo in the city’s historic centre. Collector Maurizio Morra Greco likes to invite artists to create shows that dialogue with Naples or resonate with other cultural milieu – like Ryan Mendoza’s work ‘Almost Home: The Rosa Parks House Project’, which the Fondazione presented in the courtyard of Palazzo Reale in autumn 2020.
Naples Metro Stations
In a municipal project coordinated by art critic and curator Achille Bonito Oliva, fifteen of the city’s metro stations have been turned into what Bonito Oliva has called “an obligatory museum”, with the help of around 90 artists, designers and architects ranging from Joseph Kosuth to Karim Rashid, Lawrence Weiner, Mimmo Paladino and Alessandro Mendini. If you see only one, make it Toledo (pictured above), voted Europe’s most beautiful metro station by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper; designed by Catalan architect Óscar Tusquets Blanca, it features mosaics by South African artist William Kentridge.
Photo © Roberto Salomone