Shop the Show: A New Milan Exhibition Reimagines the Home of Famed 19th-Century Lovers Ugo Foscolo and Antonietta Fagnani Marquises

Milan show is located at Palazzo Fagnani Ronzoni, Antoinetta's home, where she secretly met her lover.

Installation view of
Installation view of "Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises" 2021. Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

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What You Need to Know: Milan gallery The Pool NYC has put together a vibrant contemporary group show based on a very old romance. The exhibition title, “Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Antonietta Fagnani Marquises,” is somewhat misleading for those who aren’t familiar with the history of the 19th-century Italian literati. Ugo Foscolo and Antonietta Fagnani Marquises aren’t artists, but 19th-century lovers and influential Milanese intellectuals on whom the show reflects.

Foscolo was a great poet of the era, who was known to be both handsome and reckless. Fagnani was a woman of culture from a family of aristocrats, who spoke four languages and was regarded as one of the most bewitching women of the era. The pair became acquainted when Foscolo approached Fagnani to help with the translation from German of Goethe’s Sorrows of the Young Werther—the book would ultimately inspire Foscolo’s own book The Last Letters to Iacopo Ortis. Thus set off one of history’s great and tumultuous romances. The whirlwind love affair between Fagnani, who was married, and Foscolo lasted only a few short years, but their shared devotion to arts and literature left an indelible mark on Milan. The gallery itself is set at Palazzo Fagnani Ronzoni—Fagnani’s home—where she would meet Foscolo in secret. The exhibition reimagines what this home would be like if their romance unfurled today. 

Installation view of "Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises" 2021. Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Installation view of “Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises” 2021. Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Why We Like It: The gallery makes great use of its unique and historic space, here becoming a kind of living theater for imagining their romance in our own time and through the various artworks on view. The gallery has emphasized the domestic nature of the space: One enters through the artist Aldo Mondino’s monumental sculptural “marshmallow pool,” which lets us, as the gallery writes, “get lost in the passionate waters of the Amour Fou.” Meanwhile, artworks are installed in situ with a bed, textiles, books, and other objects of the home. Each work alludes to their romance in some way. For example, Bianca Sforni’s The Datura Flower references an aphrodisiac plant that was forbidden in centuries past because it was believed it could stimulate impure thoughts. Unfaithful Wife by Eteri Chkadua needs little explanation. Even, the inclusion of Barbar rugs and African textiles is meant to allude to the travels each took in their lifetimes.

Installation view of "Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises" 2021. Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Installation view of “Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises” 2021. Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

What the Gallery Says: “Our gallery is based at Palazzo Fagnani Ronzoni, the original home of Antonietta, where she secretly met the great poet Foscolo. We have decided to recreate their ideal home in this century, made of contemporary art and design. They were both collectors and beauty lovers, and shared interest in other cultures, in literature (she helped Foscolo to translate Wolfgang Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther). Antonietta was married to Marco Arese Lucini, a Milanese aristocrat (as was she), and was one of the few female intellectuals at the time. It was love at first sight when Foscolo met her at La Scala in Milan. Their love story lasted from 1801 to 1803, and it was a deep, intense, secret, and very stimulating relationship and we want to celebrate it as a reminder that love can really generate something special and crucial for humanity for generations.”

 

Eteri Chkadua
In Black (2013)
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Eteri Chkadua, In Black (2013). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Eteri Chkadua, In Black (2013). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

 

Bianca Sforni
Datura (2020)
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Bianca Sforni, Datura (2020). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Bianca Sforni, Datura (2020). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

 

Patrick Jacobs
Study for Tree and Moonlight (2019)
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Patrick Jacobs, Study for Tree and Moonlight (2019). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Patrick Jacobs, Study for Tree and Moonlight (2019). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

 

Maria Grazia Rosin
Bicchieri Ventosa (2018)
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Maria Grazia Rosin, Bicchieri Ventosa (2018). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Maria Grazia Rosin, Bicchieri Ventosa (2018). Courtesy of The Pool NYC.

Love Is In the Air: Ugo Foscolo and Fagnani Marquises” is on view at The Pool NYC, in Milan, through September 19, 2021.


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