Milan gets good art. I know a lot of people who, whenever I make this comment, respond with something along the lines of how I used to live in New York, one of the world’s art capitals, I could see much more art if I loved there, New York is so grat, yada yada yada. However, when I lived in New York, I didn’t get as much culture in the form of art as I would have liked, and I had to dedicate what little free time I had to personal tasks and such that always took priority over a day at the museum. Whatever the reason, going to a museum always seemed more difficult to make happen in New York. But I love Milan’s art scene and I have to say that if you’re visiting Milan between now and 29 January and you have time for one exhibit, make it Escher at Palazzo Reale. And if you live here, but haven’t been, go now.
By no means am I an art connoisseur. I can only say whether or not I like an artwork(s) and why the piece(s) move me or make me feel something/nothing. Now, when I went to Escher, I was blown away, and I must have said, “This is so cool” verbatim. I don’t think I have uttered that phrase as much in my life as I did when I browsed the fascinating 200 artworks with my mouth agape.
The Dutch graphic artist and master etcher has left a profound impact on not only art, but pop culture as well, with his mathematically inspired lithographs and wood cuts. His iconic Relativity lithograph depicting gravity defying staircases was most certainly on display, a work that inspired Davide Bowie’s Labyrinth video, Pink Floyd’s On the Run album cover, the Hogwarts staircase (yay, Harry Potter!) and Sky Italia’s Box Sets commercial (my most favorite on demand option ever). Escher is perhaps most famous for turning down Mick Jagger’s request to use one his works for album art, a move that spoke volumes about his character as he seemingly wasn’t after fame and fortune.
Escher adored the bejesus out of Italy, and spent time in Rome and Calabria, so there are several works showcasing his takes on these cities. The stunning series dedicated to the Alhambra has catapulted the Spanish landmark towards the top of my ever growing bucket list.
There are fun interactive activities, my favorite was a computer generated picture of you taking a picture of yourself (sounds like I’m talking circles, know, but you have to see it to understand it), as well as a hall of mirrors that reminded me of the funhouse at Rye Playland.
The Hand with Reflecting Sphere was on display alongside a replica of Jan Van Ike’s Arnolfini Portrait, with a special emphasis on the convex mirror that influenced Escher. An interactive exhibit lets your face appear inside the reflecting sphere instead of Escher’s, which I didn’t do because this very image has inundated my social networks feeds, so it didn’t seem very original.
My absolute favorite piece hands down was Metamorphosis as its ingenious creativity completely blew me away. The 12.8 f00t long and six inches high, the painting seamlessly morphed from one image into another, and I just couldn’t stop pacing back and forth in front of it, despite the crowd, as I was beyond enchanted. I want a Metamorphosis of my own, but the replicas being sold in the gift shop are just not real McCoy.
My only complaint is that the exhibit space was tight. We went on a Thursday night (the museum stays open until 10pm) because we thought it would be the best time to go. All things considered, it probably was, but it was still packed. My advice: Just try to forget about the people around with no concept of personal space, and enjoy the Escher exhibit for what it is!
Disclaimer: I work for Musement, and I want to point out that we sell skip-the-line open tickets for Escher. They do cost €4.50 more, but time is money and having these tickets makes a huge difference as there is always a long line for Palazzo Reale exhibits. Things were a little disorganized when I arrived so being able to skip the line with an open ticket made a huge difference and was well worth the extra cash if I do say so myself. If you get there towards the later side on Saturday and Thursday, you might be okay, but it’s always impossible to predict the crowds.
Palazzo Reale; Piazza del Duomo, 12; Cost; €12,00; website
Monday: 2.30 – 7.30
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday: 9.30 – 7.30
Thursday and Saturday: 9.30 and 10.30