With its neoclassical monumentality Piazza del Plebiscito has always been the symbol of Naples in the world alongside Maschio Angioino and Castel dell’Ovo. Framed by the majestic Royal Palace (1600 ca.) designed by Domenico Fontana [Melide, Canton of Ticino, 1543 – Naples, 1607], the Basilica of Saint Francis of Paola (1817-46), which has the same design as the Pantheon in Rome, by the symmetrical buildings of the Prefecture (formerly Guest Room, 1812-15) and by Palazzo di Salerno (1775/1798, formerly Command of the Southern Military Region and from 2007 South Logistic Command), it owes its name to the plebiscite that in 1860 sanctioned the annexation of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies to the newly-born Italian State. It is characterized by a large hemicycle porch (1809) wanted by Joachim Murat, King of Naples, and designed by architect Leopoldo Laperuta on the model of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It renews the ancient tradition of colonnade squares and gives the square a peculiar elliptical shape. In correspondence of the two fires of the ellipse are bronze equestrian statues of Charles III and Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, commissioned to Antonio Canova [Possagno, Treviso, 1757 – Venice, 1822] to celebrate the return of the Spanish family after a decade under Napoleon’s rule. After years of decay, in the autumn of 1994 the monumental area of the square was entirely restored and closed to traffic on the occasion of the G7 Heads of State Summit. In 1995 it was turned into a pedestrian area, which is occasionally the stage of concerts and events, but also of contemporary art installations in the Christmas period. And it is from this idea conceived by Eduardo Cicelyn, cultural journalist for “Il Mattino”, that the “Arte in piazza” festival developed. For the first time international contemporary art was displayed in a city’s most famous square: art regains its popular and public aspect by being exhibited in a historical place that belongs to everyone, and exposes itself to the risk of a direct and unfiltered relationship with the general public, which either accepts or turns it down, judges it and discusses it. Art gets out of the space that is usually dedicated to it and contributes to forming a new thought, meaning cultural act, moral resolution and political project. Artists of international renown have since exhibited in the square that represents the renewed city of Naples, adding to the prestige and success of the festival with their works.
23.12.09 | 30.01.10
“L’appuntamento con l’arte contemporanea a Piazza del Plebiscito giunge alla sua quindicesima edizione. Quest’anno il prestigioso spazio cittadino ospiterà il progetto PIONIER II dell’artista tedesco Carsten Nicolai. L’iniziativa voluta dal Comune di Napoli e” ...
The boy with the moon and the stars on his head
20.12.08 | 18.01.09
For the fourteenth edition of Arte in piazza the urban space is turned into a theatre stage in which five actors play their respective roles, blending in with the crowd of passers-by as street mimes or with the jumble of statues that adorn old buildings. In the background, two parallel rows of ...
22.12.07 | 25.02.08
The annual appointment at Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples this year opens with two installations by Michelangelo Pistoletto [Biella, 1933], leading exponent of the arte povera movement theorized by Germano Celant, and, today, one of the protagonists of the international artistic scene. Pistoletto ...
16.12.06 | 07.01.07
Jenny Holzer’s [Gallipolis, Ohio (USA), 1950] project for Naples consists of xenon projections of huge light inscriptions on the Royal Palace, the basilica of St Francis of Paola, the Prefecture and Palazzo di Salerno. The words take the shape of images, flowing on the façades of the ...
Progressions in square
23.12.05 | 16.06.06
For Naples Sol Lewitt [Hartford, Connecticut, 1928] creates an optical illusion, an impossible object, a philosophical paradox: like the elusive staircase described in 1958 by British mathematicians Lionel and Roger Penrose, which takes nowhere, since its last step turns itself into the first one. ...
Italy at auction
22.12.04 | 31.01.04
For the annual appointment at Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples Luciano Fabro [Turin, 1936 – Milan, 2007] presents, at the centre of the agora that was once called "Largo di Palazzo", the installation titled Italy at auction, which proposes in a spectacular way one of the ...
20.12.03 | 31.03.04
The work realized by Richard Serra [San Francisco, California (USA), 1939] for Piazza del Plebiscito is expressly dedicated to the city of Naples, to the fascination deriving from its history and its chaotic vitality of nowadays. It is one of the biggest and more monumental installations ever made ...
14.12.02 | 08.01.02
After the installations in Turin for the fourth edition of Luci d’artista (Blue Spirits, 2000) and New York (Book-mirror, 2001), Rebecca Horn [Michelstadt, Odenwald 1944] lands in Naples to try her hand at the monumental space of Piazza del Plebiscito. Mostly known for the body extensions of ...
Rethinking the truth
14.12.01 | 31.01.02
Author of the neon text drawn from Dante Alighieri that was displayed in the Piazza Dante underground station of Naples in 2001, for Piazza Plebiscito Joseph Kosuth [Toledo, Ohio (USA), 1945] executes a 144-metre long light inscription that runs through the porch of the basilica of St Francis of ...
17.12.00 | 16.01.01
Like Paladino and Paolini, Anish Kapoor [Bombay, 1954] interacts with the square starting from the centre, choosing a stately structure that can relate to the surrounding space. Among the projects displayed at piazza grande this is undoubtedly the most impressive one from the architectural point of ...
01.01.99 | 01.01.99
Since the late 1960s Giulio Paolini [Genoa, 1940] has always had a special connection with Naples, started with the participation to Arte Povera + Azioni Povere in Amalfi and continued with the collaboration with Lucio Amelio. Such a connection grew stronger in 1999 with his performance in piazza ...
20.12.98 | 31.01.99
The star and the canoe are two recurrent motifs in the work of Gilberto Zorio [Andorno Micca, Biella, 1944]. The artist from Turin chose to use these archetypal forms also for piazza Plebiscito, where in 1998 he displayed a “sculpture of energy” that interacted with the surrounding ...
01.01.97 | 01.01.97
After his early informal works, in 1967 Mario Merz [Milan, 1925 – Turin, 2003] starts creating compositions using neon lights and all kinds of everyday objects, such as bottles, bales of straw, casseroles and garments. A few years later, in 1970, he publishes the book “Fibonacci”; ...
22.12.96 | 31.01.97
The installation of 1996 by Jannis Kounellis [Piraeus, Athens, 1936] is made up of three parts that express the concept of a possible revival through a universal language capable of giving shape and weight to ideas. The shape is that of everyday objects and materials; the weight is at the same time ...
01.01.95 | 01.01.95
A salt mountain in the heart of the city. The “Salt Mountain” in the square that is the symbol of Naples and has been finally closed to traffic, turning itself into an extraordinary open-air museum, unique in the world in its kind and hosting the questions raised by the multiform ...