Art & the City, Milan
From the street to collector living rooms: up for auction the designer manhole covers from Via Monte Napoleone
Base auction price - 1,500 euros.
That's the starting price with which, on June 6 in Milan, Christie's opened bidding for one of the 20 fine art manhole covers created for the second open air exhibition Sopra il Sotto - Tombini Art raccontano la città cablata.
Milan residents had already noticed them earlier when these brightly-colored cast-iron squares that hide the underground city of wires and cables began to spring up like mushrooms along the streets of the city's high-fashion district.
They are the work of five urban painters from the capitals of street art: New York, Berlin, London, Paris and, of course, Milan.
"It is in the invisible metropolis that information flows, that underground city over which we walk obliviously.
This was the basis of the idea to transform the city into an open-air gallery and manhole covers into artist canvases," Alberto Trondoli, AD of Metroweb, tells Panorama. Metroweb is the company with the largest metropolitan network of fiber optics in Europe which also organized the charity auction at Christie's.
Proceeds will go to the non-profit association Gli amici di Edoardo (Edoardo's Friends) as a contribution to the street education project for young people from the poorest neighborhoods around Milan.
"If anyone thinks that painting in the street is not producing culture is wrong. The same is true for those who think this is subculture," explains Rendo, a well-known Milan writer.
These street artists are sought-after by museums around the world, artists like Shepard Fairey, the graphic designer who with Barack Obama's election poster changed the iconography of American politics.