The colorful Villa Panza in Varese


Finally I have the chance to be in Varese, and the first thing I wanna do is to visit the Villa Panza which I’ve longed for several years.

This villa has become famous thanks to its last proprietor Giuseppe Panza and his tremendous collection of American contemporary art, now most of the works on display are minimalist and conceptual art, especially some site-specific works by Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Robert Irwin.

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This series by Dan Flavin is already the symbol of Villa Panza, it occupies the ex-stables of this 18th century villa. Each of the dozen rooms along the corridor hosts a light installation featuring one color, and all together, they create a fascinating close space manipulated by color.


Moving inside this color tunnel, every step leads me to be immersed in a new color, and the color is even always different when I see it through my own eyes, the camera or the iPhone… for example, the 2 photos above are taken at the same point separately by camera and iPhone.

This reminds me of what Josef Albers has introduced in his Interaction of Color : “In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is — as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.”


Is this the original neon used by Flavin? It’s over 30 years old!


Also in the Villa’s living spaces, most art works in display are minimalistic in monochrome or basic visual elements, this composes an interesting dialogue with the neoclassical style architecture and furnitures around.

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Outside there is also a British style garden with trees of awkward forms, unfortunately it’s closed in winter. Hope to visit the villa again next year, there will be also a fantastic new exhibition “Aisthesis”.

About Pan Gu

An enthusiast of social media, a lover of art/architecture/design, an amateur photographer, a freelance contributor, an explorer of world. Born in Shanghai, once lived in Milan for 7 years, Shenzhen for 8 months, currently a social marketing copywriter based in Shanghai.

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