A neighbourhood parish church with an essential and monumental appearance, designed in the 1930s (by Gianni Muzio), in a popular context of the city: it is difficult to imagine that on these premises a real landmark could be created, a pole of artistic attraction for Milanese and tourists.

CONTEMPORARY ART ENTERS A PLACE OF WORSHIP
The reason why the Santa Maria in Chiesa Rossa church attracts many visitors every year and is the subject of study is that here the New York artist Dan Flavin (1933-1996) was asked in 1996 to create his own work of art to enhance the restoration of the building. This site-specific work has now become a permanent installation (thanks to the collaboration of the Dia Center for the Arts in New York and the Dan Flavin Estate), part of Fondazione Prada’s broader project to enhance Lombardy’s capital city.

A PLAY OF LIGHT, FROM NIGHT TO DAY
Dan Flavin’s site-specific work is called “Untited” and it permeates the entire volume of the church, marking in chromatic succession the transition from night to day as one walks down the nave from the entrance to the transept, reaching the apse. The green and blue (nave), pink (transept), golden (apse) and ultraviolet neon lights highlight the essential architectural forms of this imposing church in an unexpected and very evocative way. We know that Flavin did not want to give any symbolic or spiritual interpretation to this installation, which was his last completed work two days before his death, even though he was a great connoisseur of theology and art history.

ABOUT DAN FLAVIN IN MILAN AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
One of the great masters of American Minimal Art, Dan Flavin is an interpreter of this current characterised by the reuse (and abstraction) of industrial materials at the service of art. His works in particular play with the light created by coloured fluorescent tubes positioned in specific architectures, highlighting their volumes and structure. An essential approach but carried out with scientific ingenuity.
To learn more about Dan Flavin, you can visit his largest collection of permanent installations just a few kilometres from Milan. In Varese, the Villa e Collezione Panza, an eighteenth-century mansion home to a twentieth-century American art collection, contains some amazing neon installations that are not to be missed.