A 17th-century palace in southern Italy is the perfect old-world setting for a bold collection of art.
Known for its splendid Baroque architecture and paintings, Naples now has a new museum devoted to international contemporary art, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina (MADRE), located in the town’s centro storico. Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza renovated the Palazzo Donnaregina’s three floors, the first of which is devoted to sitespecific pieces by 11 artists, including Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, and native son Francesco Clemente. Here, we spotlight Clemente’s expansive mural and two don’tmiss works displayed in the museum’s thirdfloor galleries.
What to See
Clemente Room (2003), by Francesco Clemente
The 55yearold Neapolitan artist’s pastelhued fresco covers gallery walls on two floors, and squeezes through a white well in the upper room into a congruous space directly below to form one mural. Despite the work’s erotically charged depictions—barechested sirens in an allusion to Naples’s mythological past, floating phalluses—the space has the reverent feel of a chapel, especially midmorning, when the sun filters through the clerestory windows.
Seascape: floating costume to drift for eternity III (Elvis Suit) (1992), by Ashley Bickerton
The NeoGeos—a group of New York City artists that emerged in the early 80’s—rejected neoExpressionist trends and critiqued consumer culture by appropriating images from it. Ashley Bickerton, one of the movement’s foremost exponents, created a fleet of Seascape "transporters" that hint at impending disaster and escape into nature. A garish life raft, anchored by four orange pontoons, enshrines the jeweled white suit of a cult figure—Elvis—whose image seems set to endure the roughest seas.
Early Coloured Liz (Chartreuse) (1963), by Andy Warhol
On the surface a glib Pop icon, this silkscreen photopainting of Elizabeth Taylor forms part of Warhol’s larger "Death and Disaster" series. The cycle, better known for its macabre images of car crashes and electric chairs, also includes portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Onassis. Taylor, who fell gravely ill during the filming of Cleopatra, fit Warhol’s theme. Still, he chose to portray her at the height of her glamour—her eyes shadowed with splotches of babyblue paint and her lips stained scarlet.
79 Via Settembrini; 39081/292833; museomadre.it