The rediscovery of painting vs digital art, the focus on environmental issues, lots of photography, dialogue with the Fuorisalone: Miart 2023 will be a crescendo of surprises

t is one of the fastest growing fairs on the international scene, but also an incubator of ideas, a catalyst for parallel events and, above all, a very reliable witness on the state of health of contemporary art, for some time now tossed here and there due to wars, pandemics and environmental and financial crises.

Let's talk about the Miart, which from 14 to 16 April (but in reality throughout the week) will transform Milan into the nerve center of creativity. All this just a few hours after the opening of Design Week and the Salone de Mobile.

For the third consecutive year, the event, which this year will be entitled Crescendo, is directed by Nicola Ricciardi.

Milanese, born in 1985, curator and critic, he is in a decidedly privileged position for revealing (and in some cases anticipating) the intricate dynamics of today's art. We meet him just over a month before the official opening of the fair.

See also: miart 2023: what to see, news, events and useful information

Why should a contemporary art lover come to Miart?

Nicola Ricciardi: “To get lost in over one hundred years of art history. One of our distinctive features is in fact to embrace the modern and the contemporary, hosting galleries that exhibit freshly studied works together with those dedicated to 20th century art.

For us, miart is not only a fair but also a large collective exhibition balancing past and future, capable of welcoming Giacomo Balla and Giulia Cenci, Lucio Fontana and Monica Bonvicini at the same time.

This approach is well underlined by the Decades section, a passage through time from the early twentieth century to the present day through 10 projects (monographic presentations or thematic focuses), one for each decade from 1910 to 2010”.

Why did you choose to name this year's edition "Crescendo"?

Nicola Ricciardi: “It is the third year that we have taken a cue from a musical metaphor, after the poem "Dismantling the silence" in 2021, with which we wanted to respond to the deafening silence of the previous year, and the "Primo Movimento" in 2022, which it referred both to the beginning of a new score and to the common desire to get going again.

This year we have received double the applications, we have more than doubled the number of awards, and the interest from our stakeholders - collectors, curators, museum directors.

That's why Crescendo seemed to be the right word. It is an expression that refers, also in English, to the gradual increase in the intensity of the sound, but at the same time indicates the growth of participation and audience observed in the previous two editions and the desire to continue this upward trajectory well beyond 2023”.

How is the market evolving after a complex period such as that of the pandemic?

Nicola Ricciardi: “The most evident macro-trend is that collecting is reorienting itself towards painting, both historical and contemporary. The reasons are social but also practical: painting is a solid and safe medium even in times of crisis, such as those we have gone through and are still going through, and it is also simpler to manage in terms of exposure and conservation compared to other media.

This interest is something that in part seems to go against the trend of the digital boom that has been talked about a lot in recent years.

We are experiencing a return to wanting to see, to the need to be present in person: a sort of supercompensation compared to the great online binge of the first waves of Covid".

What will be the most interesting news of the 2023 edition?

Nicola Ricciardi: “One of the new elements compared to the last two years is the return of important galleries from abroad, from Esther Schipper to Perrotin, from Gregor Staiger to Tim Van Laere.

However, ours is not a matter of xenophilia: focusing on recognized exhibitors helps to attract the attention of international collectors, curators and museum directors.

Our goal is to bring Miart back to the levels of the 2020 edition - which was never held due to the pandemic but which could count on some of the most important galleries worldwide.

After the year zero which was 2021, in these three years, together with the Fiera Milano team, we have been able to carve out an important space again in the calendar of international exhibitions".

What are the hottest trends we will cover?

Nicola Ricciardi: “Among the trends we can certainly trace a strong attention to environmental issues, often treated through the pictorial medium. photography is carving out an increasingly important space, both contemporary and historical in general. It is a medium that in my last two editions has been little present but on which this year several galleries have decided to focus".

How do your personal ideas align with the mission of the fair?

The concept of hybridization has always interested me, the infinite possibilities that are generated when different disciplines are brought into contact or compared. In my four years in Turin as artistic director of the OGR this translated into a fluidity between visual and performing arts.

In the context of Miart, what I'm working on is getting the contents of the fair outside the confines of the fairgrounds as much as possible to contaminate other city spaces, not necessarily linked to the art world.

To return to the theme of Crescendo, the image is that of the roots coming out of their pot to generate other plants, other fruits. In this sense, the involvement of Triennale Milano is central, which during the days of the fair will become our "home" in the city, hosting a series of interventions and talks around this topic.

Speaking of Milan, how has the perception of the city changed from the point of view of art?

Nicola Ricciardi: “The original idea of building strong and structured synergies between the fair and the city came from one of my predecessors, Vincenzo de Bellis. In 2015, when he was director, Milan took a leap forward, thanks to a series of investments in the context of EXPO which also transformed the art scene.

The city has always been linked to the worlds of fashion and design, but since then it has become a reference point for the contemporary as well, taking the scepter away from Turin.

This is still reflected today in that schedule of activities that takes the name of Milan Art Week, which is built jointly by the Fair and the Municipality.

Since I took office, I immediately noticed the willingness to sit at the same table, both on the part of public and private institutions: the synergy is given by a tangible communion of intent, because the goal is to strengthen and raise the level of attractiveness of the city".

169 participating galleries, from 27 countries, where contemporary art is king. But what role does design play in all of this?

Nicola Ricciardi: “Personally, I don't have a passion for labels, which is why one of the first decisions I made when I took office was to eliminate the distinction between modern and contemporary art.

The same goes for design, which for me has a central role in the history of Milan and which is present at the fair through various projects, but which I did not consider useful to distinguish from purely artistic presentations.

I like the idea that art and design merge and contaminate each other.

Just as I find the proximity to the Salone del Mobile and the Milan Design Week stimulating, with which we are prone to collaborate on projects that originate during Miart and continue the following week. It is often the collectors themselves who ask us, especially the international ones - also because in the space of a few days and in the same city they can enjoy the best of these two worlds so close and fruitful”.

Is there something missing for this manifestation to become perfect?

Nicola Ricciardi: “The ideal art fair must know how to create and offer as many opportunities as possible so that the participating galleries can see their trust and investment repaid: only in this way can solid, credible and that last over time. Getting this is already 50% of my dream fair.

The other half is made up of the possibility of generating unpublished contents and stimulating the interest of the wider public, by working with and on the city.

As far as Miart 2023 is concerned, the dream is not that far from coming true, because both collectors and the citizens of Milan are showing an attention that hasn't been seen for several years. Now the challenge is to answer this question and their curiosity with concrete and stimulating projects”.

The works we will see at Miart 2023