In the last few years Naples seems to be up to express a new monumentality in step with contemporary artistic and architectural currents, reproposing the concept of "public art". The aesthetic accessibility of the city spreads and gains ground, involving everything from public spaces to private buildings. The most extraordinary element of our itinerary certainly is represented by the underground stops in Naples. The "Metrò dell'Arte", as it used to be called the underground Line One, is a unique experience where technology, town planning and art merge together to create a new habitat: no more a station, not yet a museum.

The "Stazioni dell'Arte" (Art Stations), opened since April 2001, were born thanks to a lovely local project geared to make these stations more attractive and interesting places for anyone, offering the possibility to "meet" the contemporary art.

The architectural planning and organization have been assigned to some of the best-known architects, from Gae Aulenti to Alessandro Mendini, from Michele and Lorenzo Capobianco to Domenico Orlacchio, greatly re-qualifying some large areas of the city. So far both external and internal spaces have housed more than 180 oeuvres, made by the most important contemporary artists. It is a special museum: decentralized and spread out the whole urban area, an open exhibition for a dynamic enjoyment of art. We are talking about an ambitious cultural project with the purpose to break the old relationship between museum and works of art, proposing alternatives that make Naples look definitely different. Every station has been designed to express its own identity, in total empathy with the surrounding areas, the problems and constant changes of the urban fabric. Gae Aulenti has designed the station "Dante", and has dealt with the urban re-qualification of the piazza, respecting the eighteenth-century structure. The station interior is totally panelled with white glasses and steel upholsterer's nails, and houses oeuvres made by some international protagonists of the contemporary art, like "Universo senza bombe", by Nicola De Maria. The colour of De Maria spreads the whole surface and leave a mark to the entire composition, in a dialogical relationship with the graphic elements expanding free within the painted space... a gorgeous and very suggestive visual motif! The sign is an archetype that evokes new emotions and magic. The spectator is deeply involved by the strength of chromatism and light, spreading like a universal music, real leitmotiv of his artistic expression.

Gae Aulenti has also taken part into the realization of the station "Museo", likewise incisive work of art but quite different from Dante. Museo is a series of essential volumes of red plaster and Vesuvian lava stone connecting the various street levels, recalling the same materials and colours of the nearby National Archaeological Museum. The corridor that leads to the National Museum houses "Stazione Neapolis": the section that collects the findings dated back to the working-faces to realize the stations Municipio, Toledo, Università and Duomo. The installation made by Mimmo Jodice, "Lottatori della Villa dei Papiri" is a trip into a past which is still alive and a problematic present, through which you will be able to decode at least some aspects of the complex beauty of the city devoted to Parhenope. The charm of these black and white photographs depends on the perspectical change regarding the figure, enhancing the dynamic plasticity of these classical sculptures.

The station "Quattro Giornate", designed by Domenico Orlecchio has completely renewed the piazza in front of the stadium Collana, offering new recreation green spaces. A happy continuity among art signals strewn inside the station and the ones in the piazza, like the big metallic sculpture by Renato Barisani and the bronzes representing two athletes, made by Lydia Cottone and located among gardens' flowerbeds.

The "Combattenti" (combatant) women by Marisa Albanese recall the times that made Naples free; women with no expression, soldiers of an age to come located onto a perspective line that goes towards the future, without interfering with the spectator's perspective plan. They are "alien", meaning creature from outer space and reality, and for that reason "living" in the snow-white Iperuranium of their panels. The helmet represents a concentrate of energy, the female weapon announcing a big change as criticism to consumerism and assertion of the human inalienable rights.

Going up you will find three big panels by Umberto Manzo that preserve scraps of paper drawn, using pastel colours, representing parts of the human body like hands or eyes; as to mark the need of sight and touch to fully enjoy a work of art.

The secont exit of the station "Rione Alto" has been inaugurated in 2002, and suddenly become famous thanks to the numerous installations of budding Parthenopean artists, like Bianco and Valentie. The artists represent the union between art and science, and particularly analyse the duality body-mind and the possibility that, in the future, this "couple" could be extended to intelligent robot, in respect of the possible relationships between nature and artificial.

The real masterpiece and unique example of modern architecture in Naples is the station "Salvator Rosa", made by Atelier Mendini. Two exits and a long external escalator supply a huge catchment area. The surrounding area, symbol of property speculation, has been totally redesigned. The buildings around are decorated with colourful mosaics, while the entrance is embellished with marbles and brightly coloured glasses of the arch windows. Outside there is a great terraced garden preserving the ruins of a Roman bridge and a nineteenth-century chapel, as well as a lovely playground. The singular oeuvre made by Perino & Vele called "A subway è chiù sicura" is located here: deliberately recognizable sculptures whose colour and sense of softness,try to interact with the observer, inviting him to receive the "new" concept.

The station "Vanvitelli" has been opened to the public in 1993, undergoing restyling works (made by Lorenzo and Michele Capobianco, with the exceptional consultancy of Achille Bonito Oliva) between 2004 and 2005. The changes have allowed the station to house works of art attribued to eight masters of contemporary art, making it the seventh art station of the Line 1. The interiors have been made brighter thanks to the careful and skilled use of colours, from blue to yellow, from lilac to various sheades of grey. The station homes the famous "Spirale" in sky-blue neon, made by Mario Merz just before passing away. The spiral is the dynamic emblem of expansion, change and time's symbol par excellence.

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