Galleria Raffaella Cortese

Martha Rosler, An American in the 21st Century, 2019, installation view, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, via A. Stradella 7, Milan

Steps away from the Boschi Di Stefano house museum designed by Portaluppi, the gallery weaves a fil-rouge connecting three civic numbers in the quiet Via Stradella. Number 7 hosts the headquarters on the lower floor. At number 1 and 4, two bright spaces with high ceilings and distinctive flooring look out onto the street through wide glass windows. The three spaces, nearby but unique in their identities, favor unexpected dialogues among artists and collectors, which continue at Bar Basso, just around the corner.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese
Anna Maria Maiolino, In atto, 2015, performance, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, via A. Stradella 1, Milan. Photo: Lorenzo Palmieri

The first artist exhibited, in 1995, was Franco Vimercati: since then, photography has tied together the eclectic research of various artists, from Roni Horn and Zoe Leonard to Jitka Hanzlová and Luisa Lambri. Raffaella’s inclination towards women artists led her to the work of Barbara Bloom, Kiki Smith, Kimsooja, Martha Rosler, Helen Mirra, Allyson Strafella, Silvia Bächli, Nazgol Ansarinia and Monica Bonvicini. The challenging choices in the market are a constant variable: performance is fundamental to Marcello Maloberti, Anna Maria Maiolino, Ana Mendieta, Joan Jonas and Simone Forti; as video art is to T.J. Wilcox, Yael Bartana, Michael Fliri, William E. Jones and Alejandro Cesarco. The gallery also exhibits leaders of contemporary sculpture: Jessica Stockholder, Miroslaw Balka, Karla Black and Francesco Arena. 30 artists, 30 solid collaborations built in 25 years of dedication and indispensable freedom.


City Exhibition Date
Albisola Superiore lux principum - in collaboration with Fanta-MLN, Noah Barker Current
Milano Ações Matéricas, Anna Maria Maiolino Until 02.09.2023
Milano T. J. Wilcox Until 02.09.2023
“My happiest moments have been at least thirty, one for each artist: my happiness is tied to theirs.”
Raffaella Cortese. Courtesy Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan. Photo: Yael Bartana

In conversation with Raffaella Cortese, Galleria Raffaella Cortese

Are you a collector?

Yes, and I carry out my work as a gallerist, partly, with the philosophy of a collector. In front of a work, I always ask myself: would I want this work to belong to me? Even though the transit of the works at the gallery is often temporary, the answer must always be “yes.” Exactly like a collector, I build an eclectic program, based as much on consistency as on diversity.

Monica Bonvicini, Our House, 2017, installation view, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, via A. Stradella 4, Milan. Photo: Lorenzo Palmieri
Do you remember your first visit to an art gallery?

My first contact with a gallery was in 1987, when I was working as an assistant to the artist Emilio Isgrò, who was mounting a solo show at Galleria Fonte d’Abisso in Modena. That visit was followed by one of my first work experiences in the Milanese space of Galleria Fonte d’Abisso and my study of the Futurist avant-garde.

The first exhibition in your gallery? Would you do it the same way today? What would you change?

I would do it all the same. It was a minimal show, designed together with the artist, Franco Vimercati, who presented a thoughtful selection of photographs, arranged with unbreakable balance. This year, 25 years later, Franco is no longer here and I am presenting, once again, his work in the three spaces. It makes me think of the engraving by Francesco Arena, in which he makes the words of T.S. Eliot his own: “In my beginning is my end”: the end is the new beginning, a continuous present that regenerates itself.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese, via Stradella 1, Milan, 2012
Something important you learned from an artist – and from a collector?

From artists I have learned to distinguish genius, rare and refined intelligence. From collectors, instead, I love learning over and over again the intimate and extraordinary joy that comes from falling in love with – and then acquiring – a work. It is an overwhelming happiness that seems even more extraordinary to me at this moment, in which emotions are blunted by digital mediation.

The most complicated moment, and the happiest moment of your career up to now?

The beginning was hard: nobody knew me in this city. Remembering the first opening, I always think of myself as the protagonist of Aki Kaurismäki’s Drifting Clouds. At the opening of the restaurant, she waited for clients, who were slow in arriving, and stared at the clock in terror. My happiest moments have been at least thirty, one for each artist: my happiness is tied to theirs.

Read the full interview


  • Nazgol Ansarinia
  • Francesco Arena
  • Silvia Bächli
  • Miroslaw Balka
  • Yael Bartana
  • Karla Black
  • Barbara Bloom
  • Monica Bonvicini
  • Alejandro Cesarco
  • Keren Cytter
  • Michael Fliri
  • Simone Forti
  • Jitka Hanzlová
  • Edi Hila
  • Roni Horn
  • Joan Jonas
  • William E. Jones
  • Kimsooja
  • Luisa Lambri
  • Zoe Leonard
  • Anna Maria Maiolino
  • Marcello Maloberti
  • Ana Mendieta
  • Helen Mirra
  • Mathilde Rosier
  • Martha Rosler
  • Kiki Smith
  • Jessica Stockholder
  • Allyson Strafella
  • Franco Vimercati
  • T. J. Wilcox