Russian travellers in Milan A triple glance to the city The volume presents the works of three Russian travellers who visited Milan in three different periods. In these texts the city emerges in a new light, revealing surprisingly unusual aspects. In mid XVII century, painter Vladimir Jakovlev analyses the urban space, investigating the facets of daily life and describing people’s habits and behaviours. In early XX century, writer and art historian Pavel Muratov resorts to the intermediation of the pictorial code, concentrating on Leonardo’s Last Supper, to explain the reasons why, in his view, Milano has not grown into the city of artists of genius, whereas it has become a main centre for capable craftsmen, implicitly anticipating its future role of modern and industrial city. Over the first years of the XXI century, literary critic Petr Vajl’ embraces a new approach to the city, taking inspiration from the cinematographic code. The critic exploits images taken from Luchino Visconti’s film “Rocco e i suoi fratelli” (Rocco and His Brothers) to create a city model mainly based on theatricality. The city theatricality emerges from La Scala’s opera tradition, the majestic architecture of the city’s Central Station and the overabundance of spires and statues decorating the Cathedral: an excess interpreted by Vajl, in the light of Visconti’s aesthetics, as an overabundance of passions and emotions leading to the disintegration of individual harmony and the weakening of family ties, a distinctive feature of the modern era. Therefore, the picture of Milan seems to be instrumental in introducing a more complex representational model of the city into the Russian culture, a model that cannot be defined resorting to a single cultural pattern: from one side, the feature of daily life modernity and dynamism is highlighted, but on the other, aesthetic spaces of inestimable value, notably the Cathedral and La Scala, evoke a type of vision corresponding to the Russian mythical perception of Italy.
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