The art metro in Naples is a highly original project, a museum underground where the transit spaces have been enriched by renowned artists such as Mimmo Jodice, Jannis Kounellis and Mario Merz.
The artists’ works have been placed in the stations becoming an integrated part of the architectural spaces. The experimental concept of placing artistic works outside of their usual context has been enormously successful; the stations become artistic containers allowing all the users of the public transport system to enjoy the works in an unconventional and entirely original manner.
This new form of art exhibiting has generated so much interest and approval and has been noticed internationally, so much so that the “Naples art metro” project was one of the most interesting submissions at the VII edition of the Biennale di Venezia. The English newspaper “The Guardian” endorsed the acclaim by defining the metro in Naples as the most beautiful in Europe.
The metro in Naples: Art stations
The first experimentation was carried out on the stations along the route between Vanvitelli and Dante where the underground areas were developed with contemporary works of art. The project then took off and ended up involving more than two hundred artists, it represents an innovation in the art world; a museum without boundaries, championed by the art critic Achille Bonito Oliva, consultant to the project. During the redevelopment of the new stations in the historic centre various archaeological remains were found, with the oldest dating back as far as the Magna Grecia period. In short, the stations of the metro in Naples can be defined by their triple “A’s”: Architecture, Archaeology, and Art.
The metro in Naples, VANVITELLI station: Architects Michele and Lorenzo Capobianco
The Vanvitelli station is located in the Piazza of the same name in the Vomero district.
It is home to the last work by Mario Merz before his death. The work represents a theory of prehistoric animals. The station is enriched with works by Gilberto Zorio, Gabriele Basilico and Olivo Barbieri. Particularly noteworthy are the “portholes” by Gregorio Botta and the polycarbonate stone under glass by Giulio Paolini
The metro in Naples, QUATTRO GIORNATE station: Architect Domenico Orlacchio
The interior of the station is a kind of museum for modern art celebrating the heroic uprising of the “Four days of Naples”. The station, with its green spaces, plays host to works and panels by Sergio Fermariello, Nino Longobardi, Maurizio Cannavacciuolo and Betty
The metro in Naples, SALVATOR ROSA station: Architect Alessandro Mendini
Among all the art stations in Naples the Salvator Rosa station is one of the most distinctive.
The station is in the Vomero district. Around the outer area are shapes, colours and mosaics which enliven the sides of the grand palazzos. The movement of shapes and colours are matched by the sculpture and installations which are placed both inside and outside the station.
The passageway between the entrance hall and the platforms is home to works by Enzo Cucchi, Raffaella Nappo, LuCa, Natalino Zullo, Quintino Scolavino and Santolo De Luca. Modern installations by Alex Mocika, Augusto Perez, Renato Barisani, Lucio Del Pezzo, Nino Longobardi, Riccardo Dalisi and Ugo Marano are on display in the park outside.
The metro in Naples, MATERDEI station: Architect Alessandro Mendini
The Materdei station is in Piazza di Scipione Ammirato in the Vomero district. The piazza has been redeveloped with flowerbeds, mosaics, ceramic installations, street lamps and designated as a pedestrian zone.
Inside is a celebration of light and maritime themes. The station’s platforms are particularly distinctive with their polychrome panels by Sol Lewitt and bright screenprints by Mathelda Balatresi, Anna Gili, Stefano Giovannoni, Robert Gliglorov, Denis Santachiara, Innocente and George Sowden.
The metro in Naples, MUSEO station: Architect Gae Aulenti
The first indication of the change is in the piazza itself which has redeveloped with the addition of gardens, flowerbeds and fountains.
The Pompeii red and contrasting vesuvian stone of the Museo station creates a unique impression mimicking the colours of the nearby National Archaeological Museum.
The interior of the Museo station is elegant, spacious and bright. The underground corridor that connects it to the line two is 330 metres long and adorned with a copy of the Farenese Hercules and the Testa Carafa from the National Museum. The Photographs of Mimmo Jodice and Fabio Donato are also on display along with some sculptural groups created by the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples.
The metro in Naples, DANTE station: Architect Gae Aulenti
The project also included the renovation of the piazza maintaining its seventeenth century layout. The piazza has been partially pedestrianised and paved with lava stone right up to the junction with Via Toledo.
The station interiors are in iron and crystal enlivened with 13 panels by Jannis Kounellis. Above the escalators which descend to the underground levels is a work by Joseph Kosuth, a quote from Dante Alighieri’s Convivio reproduced in strips of white neon light. Inside there is a piece by Michelangelo Pistoletto and one by Nicola de Maria.
The metro in Naples, TOLEDO station: Architect Óscar Tusquets Blanca
Toledo station is one of the most beautiful of the art stations and can boast numerous prizes including the award for the “Most impressive underground station in Europe”.
The “telescope” which juts out into the piazza is one of its unique features as is the mutation of its internal decoration based on the levels of the groundwater. Two mosaics by William Kentridge clothe the interior, the first depicts scenes from Neapolitan life while the second is inspired by the symbols of the Neapolitan Republic of 1799.
Placed outside is a sculpture by the same artist.
However, the most exciting and awe-inspiring part of the Toledo station can be enjoyed from the escalator. The colours are radically different in respect to those in the previous area. The foot of the escalator leads into the gallery of the sea by Óscar Tusquets and Robert Wilson. The walls and the ceilings are covered by mosaics that evoke marine shapes enhanced by clever plays of light, undulating forms and pillars decorated like magnificent jets of water gushing from a fountain lead to the well of light (Crater de Luz) at the centre of this artistic work
The metro in Naples, MUNICIPIO station: Architects Eduardo Souto de Mura and Alvaro Siza
The plans for the station underwent 27 alterations following the numerous archaeological finds such as the ancient outer fortifications of Maschio Angioino, the Angioino pier, towers from the Aragonese and Spanish Viceroy periods, the Torre dell’Incoronata and the remains of the Medieval Palazzetto Del Balzo.
The aim of the Municipio station project has been to preserve and recover historic continuity.
The metro in Naples, UNIVERSITÀ station: Architects Karim Rashid and Alessandro Mendini
The station is richly decorated and coloured symbolising the information and digital era. On the mezzanine level there are many works of art among which:
- “Conversational profile”, made up of two large cylindrical pillars which allow a glimpse of two faces in profile which represents dialogue and communication between populations.
- “Synapsi” is a sculpture in brushed metal about human intelligence and the brain’s neural network.
- “Ikon” comprises of a long light box on white space that contains fluctuating, three-dimensional, geometric shapes with strongly contrasting colours.
The metro in Naples, GARIBALDI station: Architect Dominique Perrault
The project for the Garibaldi station is of particular importance as the piazza from which it takes its name overlooks an area with five stations and is therefore one of the most strategic transport hubs of the city. The Central Train Station, the High Speed Train Station, two metro stations for lines 1 and 2 and the Circumvesuviana Station all look out over the piazza.
The area outside the station consists of a large metal pergola in pierced Teflon which acts as a cover to the shopping mall below. It looks like a large construction site with intersecting escalators reminiscent of an Escher print. Within this space are two large works by the internationally renowned Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto.