Monica De Cardenas opened her gallery in Milan’s Corso Como district in 1992, between two very green courtyards in the heart of the city. While the area was considered suburban at the time, over the years it has evolved into a new, ever-changing urban center in its own right, surrounded by the high-rises of Piazza Gae Aulenti, Stefano Boeri’s Bosco Verticale, and the Feltrinelli Foundation designed by Herzog & De Meuron.
The gallery gained a reputation for bringing international artists to Italy, presenting a clear program oriented towards photography and figurative painting. In 1993, in Italy, it exhibited the large-format photographs of Thomas Struth. In 1994, the Swiss artist Markus Raetz presented his sculptures, which change according to point of view. In 1996, it exhibited the German minimalist figurative sculptor Stephan Balkenhol. In 1998, it was one of the first galleries in Europe to present the American painter Alex Katz, and later it organized exhibitions of Katz’s work in Italian and European institutions. The relationship with these artists has consolidated and strengthened over the years; in 2022, Katz exhibited at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento and Rovereto – in May, at MART, in June, at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and in October, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The 2000s brought a deeper, more complex focus on figurative painting, with solo or group exhibitions by Peter Doig, Chantal Joffe, Jules de Balincourt, Ali Banisadr, Serban Savu, and Gideon Rubin. In parallel, the gallery represents and promotes young Italian artists who share this vision, such as Claudia Losi, Gianluca Di Pasquale, Rä di Martino, Linda Fregni Nagler and Federico Tosi.
In 2007, Monica De Cardenas opened a second branch in Switzerland, steeped in the light of the upper Engadin Valley in Zuoz near Saint Moritz. The new gallery is located inside an old 14th-century Engadin house, restored by the architect Hans-Jörg Ruch who preserved its original structure and features. In this unique setting, international artists are alternated with Italian artists, to transform the gallery into a platform for promoting Italian art in Switzerland. Over the years, the gallery has also presented work by major artists such as Marisa Merz (2012), Gianni Colombo (2013) and Fausto Melotti (2018).