Contemporary Art in Ravenna

Itinerary through modern mosaics, street art and site-specific works

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Ravenna boasts a thousand-year-old history of art and culture, related to its past as an imperial capital and to Byzantine mosaics, whose tradition is still very much alive even nowadays. 

This long journey has also made the city into a capital of contemporary art, with modern mosaics, street art and site-specific works, all located in surprising sceneries.

  • Length
    48 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - MAR, Ravenna Art Museum Ravenna

    The Mar – Ravenna Art Museum is one of Romagna’s most significant cultural institutions. It hosts a large collection of works from the 14th century to today, as well as a prestigious section of contemporary mosaics, which was recently renovated. 

    Art welcomes visitors from outside the building, with two remarkable works: Mimmo Paladino’s horse and a life-size mosaic bale by Marco Bravura.

    The modern section of the gallery offers a varied journey through art in the last centuries, from Giambattista Bassi’s Neoclassical landscapes to Antonio Ciseri’s Tuscan purism, Vittorio Guaccimanni’s works and Domenico Baccarini’s talent. One of the main pieces of the modern collection is a female nude by Klimt. 

    The second half of the 20th century is represented by some leading artists of the Roman Pop movement, such as Schifano and Tano Festa; protagonists of Abstractionism, such as Veronesi, Boetti, Dadamaino, Olivieri, Castellani, Griffa up until Mondino, Cattelan and Banksy. 

    MAR has also been the first public museum to host a work by Edoardo Tresoldi, defined the artist of the “Absent Matter” and of the cathedrals of wire mesh, included by Forbes in the list of Europe’s most influent under 30 artists in 2017.

    The collection of modern and contemporary mosaics – gathering more than 90 works – is a one-of-a-kind section displayed on the ground floor of the museum and divided into three sections: Modern Mosaics – Exhibition 1959, Mosaic & Design, and Contemporary Variations, and describes the development of the mosaic technique on an international level starting from experiences lived in Ravenna, from the beginning of the 20th century to today. 

  • Second stop - The historical centre Ravenna

    Ravenna is a thousand-year-old city, and its journey through the centuries can still be perceived by walking in the picturesque streets of the historical centre. In this ancient frame, modern and street art create an even clearer contrast, in the corners of the streets, on the facades of the buildings, in parks and under your feet.

    Thanks to the Subsidenze Festival (curated by Marco “Bonobolabo” Miccoli of Associazione Indastria) – which has been inviting artists from all over the world in collaboration with the Department of Youth Policies of the Municipality of Ravenna since 2014 – also the streets of the historical centre have become part of a great open-air museum of street art. 

    One of the most surprising works is Kobra’s Dante, carried out in via Pasolini on the external wall of the “F. Mordani” primary school. A unique, intense and undoubtedly contemporary work, which has become a must-see for tourists and citizens. 

    The globally-known French artist Invader (1969) has covered Ravenna with his “pixelated aliens” in two waves between 2014 and 2015. 

    One of the main works is located outside the Planetary of Ravenna, at the centre of the public gardens, but there are dozens of mosaic works all around the city. Finding them can also become a game, thanks to the “FlashInvaders” app, allowing you to experience your visit as a great treasure hunt.

    L’arte sa nuotare” (lit. art can swim) is the name of the work of Blub, a brilliant artist from Florence who has invaded also the historical centre of Ravenna in recent years. Usually located on the shutters of light and gas meters, his works portray famous characters in iconic representations, but they are underwater and wear diving masks.

    The fun thing about street art is that you can go looking for works and find as many as possible. But some tips never hurt anyone! You can find Marylin Monroe in via 4 novembre, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is in via Pasolini. If you walk around, you wil also find Giuseppe Verdi, Dalì, Van Gogh and obviously Dante, the supreme poet resting in Ravenna. 

  • Third stop - Darsena area: giant murals and much more Ravenna

    At the centre of a big project of urban renovation – which is still ongoing – the Darsena area has recently become an attractive neighbourhood for citizens and tourists. Bars, sustainable construction, new urban furniture and industrial archaeology are the ideal scenery for many cultural initiatives organised here and murals that you can admire.

    You just need to have a walk, ride your bike or scooter to realise it. 

    We recommend a loop itinerary – taking 2 hours on foot – starting from the head of the Darsena and touching three key points: the Candiano canal, including the area around Artificerie Almagià/Darsena PopUp, via Trieste and Via Tommaso Gulli. 

    In the first part of the itinerary, you will encounter Ericailcane’s giant mural called “P.G.R.”, created on the bricks of the former Mosa feed mill, as well as a dozen of other works in via dell’Almagià and via Magazzini Posteriori. Particularly noteworthy are the works by Dzia, Dissenso Cognitivo, About Ponny and Hope. 

    Going toward the so-called “Cittadella della Street Art”, located at the bottom of via Tommaso Gulli, we suggest you walk (or ride) along via Grado and then via Trieste (but don’t miss out on the side streets!), where you will admire other gigantic murals colouring up the facades of buildings and blocks of flats. Among the most beautiful ones are: Jim Avignon’s “City of Memories”, Pixel Pancho’s “The Last Kiss”, QBIC’s “Immigration”, Basik’s “The incredulity of Saint Thomas” and Millo’s “At the beginning of the journey of our life”, representing Dante and Virgil as kids playing with iconic objects related to their journey in the afterworld.

    Check out the map (which should continuously be updated!) of all the works. 

  • Fourth stop - Davide Rivalta's animals Ravenna

    An internationally renowned artist from Bologna, Davide Rivalta launched his career right in Ravenna, when one of his works was chosen to enrich the courtyard of the courthouse. Since then, three gigantic gorillas dominate passers-by and guard the patio.

    Other sculptures of his are at the National Museum, in the headquarters of the Port Authority and on the lawn in front of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, where his famous Mediterranean buffalos graze undisturbed.

  • Fifth stop - Stadium and Parco della Pace Ravenna

    This area hosts some of the most spectacular murals created thanks to the Subsidenze Festival. Artists like Millo and SeaCreative have painted gigantic works that colour even more this very lively neighbourhood, full of schools, sports centres and markets. 

    Not far from here is the peculiar Parco della Pace. Inaugurated at the end of the ‘80s with the aim of promoting closeness among peoples through art, it hosts about twenty works of considerable size, carried out based on the projects of important artists from different countries.

  • Sixth stop - South of Ravenna Ravenna

    Giardino del Labirinto. Inspired by the marble inlay of the labyrinth on the pavement of the Basilica of San Vitale and by Dante’s verse “we emerged, to see – once more – the stars”, this installation created in 2019 has a diameter of almost ten metres and is made up of 169 mosaic triangles, all different from each other. 

    Curated by Associazione Dis-Ordine, the work enhances the labyrinth as a series of challenges to overcome in order to conquer a new life.

    Ardea Purpurea Fountain. 12-metres-high and completely covered in mosaic, this suggestive fountain, created by Marco Bravura in 2004, is rich in meanings and symbolism. The double-wing structure resembles that of human DNA, while on its golden walls are symbols of the Phoenician alphabet, of Judaism, and Sanskrit, Aramaic, Greek and Old Japanese words. The reflections of the sun and the jets of water make this monumental work into a fascinating play of colours, lights and refractions.

Last update 19/11/2023

For more information

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Information offices

IAT Ravenna
Piazza San Francesco, 7 - Ravenna (RA)
+ 39 0544 35755 + 39 0544 35404 Opening: all year round

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