Must-See Art Tips – Road Trip Europe - ART FIX
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Must-See Art Tips - Road Trip Europe

Summer 2020 has been the season of road trips. In a world in which social distancing makes air travel unattractive, a lot of Europeans have taken their cars down south. You may be finding yourself, about to head home, wondering if the return trip can be just as exciting as the time you spent enroute to your holiday. Fear not: Art Fix is here, with all the must-see art destinations you cannot miss on your way home after the holiday.

CAPALBIO, ITALY

NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE – IL GIARDINO DEI TAROCCHI

Niki de Saint Phalle, The Choice (The Lovers)
  • Pescia Fiorentina, Capalbio, Provincia di Grossetto (58100), Italy
  • Opening dates: from April 1 to October 15
  • Open daily from 14:30 to 19:30
  • www.ilgiardinodeitarocchi.it

Ending a trip of long beach days and late lunches? On your final day in Tuscany, check out the Tarot garden by Niki de Saint Phalle. Holidays tend to end on a bittersweet note, but this exhibition will throw the bitter right out! 

Niki de Saint Phalle, The High Priestess

You might recognize the style of this garden. This is because Niki de Saint Phalle used the infamous Spanish style as inspiration! After visiting Barcelona in 1955, she decided to create her own sculpture garden in the style of Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell. De Saint Phalle considered the Tarot Garden to be her life’s work. 

Amid peaceful olive groves De Saint Phalle placed twenty-two mystical figures from the tarot deck. Over the years, her husband Jean Tinguely and a team of assistants helped her to create the sculptures, working on it for two decades preceding its opening in 1998.

Niki de Saint Phalle, The Empress

Some Tarot Garden Art Fixes for you: in the two decades leading up to the opening of the garden, De Saint Phalle’s bedroom was located inside one breast of the sphinx, while her kitchen became the other.

Another interesting fact: the Tarot Garden cost more than five million dollars. How did the artist fund this, you may be wondering? To raise funds, she created her own perfume. Sold in a cobalt-blue bottle with intertwined snakes for a stopper, the perfume became an instant success, with even Andy Warhol attending the launch party. The perfume ended up providing one third of the funding for the garden. According to perfume sites, the scent is “sour, green, and intense, and smells like the collision between a lime, a peach, and rattlesnake venom” –  just like her art. What a way to end your holiday!

FLORENCE, ITALY

TOMAS SARACENO: ARIA – PALAZZO STROZZI

You thought you’d seen enough sun for this holiday? Think again: visit the Palazzo Strozzi to view these incredible solar balloons. Three large, reflective spheres, creating a dialogue between the Renaissance and the contemporary world. The sculpture builds on Saraceno’s research into solar systems, allowing these silver globes to float using only the heat of the sun.

The art of Saraceno causes us to consider the issues and challenges of our era, such as pollution, climate change, sustainability and the overcoming of geographical and social barriers. A great art installation to fuel your roadtrip conversation.

CLET: STREET SIGNS

If you’re looking for a family challenge, meet Clet: a French artist who lives and works in Florence. No street sign is safe from him, and no roadtrip is boring with him involved. Spot as many as you can, and download the app to join the hunt.

How? Download the Sign Clet app, login via Facebook or Gmail, and choose a nickname. Take a photo of Clet’s street signs. If you are the first to discover one of Clet’s artworks, that artwork will take your nickname.

MILAN, ITALY

PIRELLI HANGARBICOCCA

Anselm Kiefer, Installation View

No planes this summer, but what about trains? Housed in an old locomotive factory, the Pirelli HangarBicocca is a wonderful place to take a well-deserved art break during your drive. Carve out some time to visit the permanent installation by Anselm Kiefer, “The Seven Heavenly Palaces”, owing its name to the palaces described in the ancient Hebrew treatise Sefer Hechalot, the “Book of Palaces/Sanctuaries”. The volume narrates the symbolic path of spiritual initiation that one must take to become closer to God. 

The seven towers, each of which weighs 90 tons and rises to heights varying between 14 and 18 meters, are created from reinforced concrete. It’s impossible to grasp the scale of the work in the picture, which means it must be experienced IRL. Go and see it for yourself!

TIP: Have lunch at the Iuta Bistrot next to the entrance of the Hangar.

FONDAZIONE PRADA

Liu Ye, Mondrian in the Morning, 2000

For the real Last Supper, head over to the Fondazione Prada to visit the three temporary exhibitions: “K,” “The Porcelain Room,” and “Storytelling”. Our favourite is “Storytelling”, a solo show by Liu Ye. The exhibition shows 35 paintings realized by the Chinese artist from 1992 to the present day, all somehow inspired by literature, art history, and popular culture. Some paintings explicitly mention works by other artists such as Piet Mondrian and Rogier van der Weyden and cultural movements like Bauhaus – see how many references you can find! 

Unfortunately, the Torre, which houses the great Prada collection, remains closed due to Covid-19. Put it on your list for 2021 however, as it hosts an incredible artist-lineup: Jeff Koons, Walter De Maria, Damien Hirst, John Baldessari, and even the famous upside down mushrooms by Carsten Höller.

TIP: Don’t miss Bar Luce! Located at the entrance building of Fondazione Prada and designed by the American film director Wes Anderson. As explained by Anderson, “the approach I used to design this bar is exactly the opposite I usually use for the set designs of my movies. I tried to make it a bar you’d like to go to five times a week.”

ANGERA – LAGO MAGGIORE, ITALY

FANTASTIC UTOPIAS – ROCCA DI ANGERA

We know the Rocco di Angera, the Borromeo Castle on a lakeside hilltop, looks great from the car window, but trust us: it’s even more beautiful inside! The group exhibition “Fantastic Utopias” hosts works from 15 international artists. Taking us to alternative universes far removed from reality, the works have been cleverly inserted with the precise intention of creating a “fantastic” effect. 

Ai Weiwei, Feiyu, 2015, Courtesy the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA

The exhibition is made in collaboration with the famous Italian gallery from San Gimignano, Galleria Continua, so it comes as no surprise that the 15 artists are from their staple: Jonathas De Andrade, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Carlos Garaicoa, Antony Gormley, Shilpa Gupta, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Zhanna Kadyrova, Sabrina Mezzaqui, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Ornaghi e Prestinari, Kiki Smith, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Ai Wei Wei, and Chen Zhen.

BASEL, SWITSERLAND

FONDATION BEYELER

If you’re driving through Switzerland, do save some time to visit the Fondation Beyeler, the magnificent institute famous for having a superb collection of modern and contemporary art. Think Picasso, Mondrian, Giacometti, a huge Monet, Roni Horn glass sculptures, a few Rothko’s, and Alexander Calder and even an Ellsworth Kelly on the lawn in front of the museum.

EDWARD HOPPER

Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940

After strolling through the permanent works, visit the Edward Hopper exhibition, on view until September 20th. The exhibition focuses on Hopper’s iconic representations of the infinite expanse of American landscapes and cityscapes. With watercolors and oil paintings dating from the 1910s to the 1960s, the exhibition provides an extensive and exciting overview of the multifaceted nature of Edward Hopper’s oeuvre, which ironically has become known as works that embody the Covid-19 stay-at-home lifestyle.

TIP: After the museum visit, have lunch at the “Beyeler Restaurant im Park”, overlooking the sculptures of Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly.

MUSEUM TINGUELY

Museum Tinguely, Basel, Donation Niki de Saint Phalle

After seeing the immense effort put into De Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden by Jean Tinguely, you may be itching to visit his own museum in Basel. Situated directly on the Rhine, the Museum Tinguely houses a great collection of works by one of the most innovative and important Swiss artists of the 20th century,  famous for his moving mechanical sculptures. Due to its dynamic nature, this is a great museum for a visit with children. Everything moves and makes noise – let’s start the Art Fixing young!

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

ANSELM KIEFER: FÜR WALTHER VON DER VOGELWEIDE – GALERIE THADDAEUS ROPAC

Passing Salzburg? Move over schnitzel, a visit to Galerie Thaddeaus Ropac has priority! The gallery presents a new series of monumental works by Anselm Kiefer, the same artist from the Pirelli HangarBicocca. The works are dedicated to Walther von der Vogelweide (c. 1170 c. 1230), the lyrical love poet, whose significance and legacy have been explored by the artist since the 1970s. The experience of nature and the broken blades of grass and flowers described in the poem are recurring elements in Anselm Kiefer’s paintings. 

METZ, FRANCE

THE SKY AS A STUDIO. YVES KLEIN AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES – CENTRE POMPIDOU

Most people know Yves Klein as the father of the deep blue colour, but if you’re curious to know the man behind the hue, the exhibition “The Sky as a Studio. Yves Klein and his contemporaries” is for you. 

Yves Klein

This is also a must-see exhibition for lovers of Zero art, the movement focused on light and space and known for focusing purely on art’s materials. Klein developed close ties with the spatial artists in Italy, as well as with the ZERO and Nul groups in Germany and the Netherlands. 

Lucio Fontana

He also maintained certain affinities with the Gutai group in Japan. Keep your eyes peeled for works by Bernard Aubertin, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, Dadamaino, Lucio Fontana, Yayoi Kusama, Piero Manzoni, Henk Peeters, Otto Piene, Takis, Jean Tinguely and Günther Uecker.

LAVAUX-SAINTE-ANNE, BELGIUM

BERNAR VENET: ARC MAJEUR

Bernar Venet, Arc Majeur, 2019 © Charles Paulicevich

If you’re cruising through Belgium, look out for “Arc Majeur”, a monumental 60-meters tall 75-meters wide sculpture in rusted Corten steel by French artist Bernar Venet.  The “Arc Majeur” is installed near Lavaux-Sainte-Anne in Belgium along the E411 highway between Namur and Luxembourg. To learn more about the “Arc Majeur”, check our story on XXL sculptures.

MORE PLACES TO EAT/DRINK

COFFEE

Ditta Artigianale: Need a pick me up coffee for your last days in Florence? Look no further than Ditta Artigianale. 

JK Place: Another coffee contender for your time in Florence

Cafée Vonlanthen: If you’re passing through Basel, check out this lovely coffee shop for yummy specialty coffee and charming views of the Rhine.

DRINKS  (we do not recommend drinking and driving) 

La Terrazza Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Continentale in Florence with a view you will remember forever! 

Lùbar: If you’re looking for a spot to have your final drink in Milan, don’t miss Lùbar. The perfect place for a cocktail (try the mezcal!) after your last art visit.

LUNCH

At Pandenus in Milan you find all the ingredients that will make your day special.

Treat yourself to a Sunday Brunch at the Four Seasons garden in Florence or at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan – this is a classic and it is amazing! Please contact the hotel directly before you go. 

After your visit to Rocco di Angera, enjoy the spectacular view of the Lago Maggiore at Il Sole di Ranco.

Last, but not least, always book your time slots before you go and don’t forget to wear your mask whenever you’re indoors.