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Le sale della Collezione Grassi allestite da Ignazio Gardella

Grassi Collection

This important collection was born from Carlo Grassi’s passion for art and the generous donation to the City of Milan on behalf of his widow, Nedda Mieli, in 1956 with the agreement that the works be displayed in memory of their son Gino, who had died as a volunteer in El-Alamein at the age of eighteen. Carlo Grassi (1886–1950) was an Italian entrepreneur. He was born in Greece and then moved to Cairo in the late 1800s, where he became one of the most well-known producers and traders of tobacco. He spent long periods in Italy where, besides his homes in Rome and Milan, he had a large villa at Lora, outside Como. When he moved to Italy with his wife in the late 1930s, this would become the main showcase for his impressive art collection. In addition to some refined Asian art objects and paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries, the Grassi Collection boasts an important core of Italian 19th-century works – by Fattori, De Nittis, Boldini, the Milanese Scapigliati, just to name a few – and of Divisionism – by Previati, Segantini, Pellizza da Volpedo. But the collection also presents a vast array of international artists, which was quite uncommon at the time among critics and art dealers who preferred traditional art. Grassi collected paintings by Manet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, and today these are the only works by these masters found in Milan’s museums. Especially after his move back to Italy, Grassi became quite interested in contemporary Italian painting: also present are avant-garde works – in particular by Boccioni and Balla – and art from between the World Wars – Morandi, De Pisis, Tosi, and many others. The exhibition design by architect Ignazio Gardella is an important example of 1950s Italian museography and was restored in 2014, when the entire itinerary was changed to host, within this space, the Vismara Collection, which had previously been on display on the Gallery’s ground floor.





G. Nicodemi (a cura di), Il dono di Carlo Grassi al Comune di Milano in memoria del figlio Gino, Stab. Tip. R. Scotti, Milano 1962


L. Caramel, C. Pirovano, Galleria d'Arte Moderna. Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea. Raccolta Grassi, Electa, Milano 1973


M. Fratelli, Carlo Grassi, in Giorgio Morandi. Collezionisti e amici, Fai-Skira, Milano 2008, pp. 120-121


A. Oldani (a cura di), Guida alle Collezioni Grassi e Vismara, Editore Allemandi & C., Torino 2014