At Arnaldo Pomodoro’s studio, a “kasbah” in Milan

“I arrived in Milan in 1954. I had left Pesaro, together with my brother Giò, with a global dream”: the sculptor talks about his historic workspace, a former post house that Gregotti renovated for him in the 1980s.

Whether you call it a qasba or a kasbah, its meaning remains the same: it is a preserving place, a meeting point for travellers where they can recharge their batteries after a long journey and talk about the world. And it is in the oldest corner of the Darsena waterfront in Milan, where you can still see the washerwomen’s stones and the barges’ moorings, that Arnaldo Pomodoro set up his studio, which consists of a maze of spaces: “In 1968, I moved my studio to this neighbourhood, which was a mosaic of public housing apartments, but above all of small workshops”, he explains to Domus. “Over the years, I managed to convince a few owners to give me some more space so that I could expand my studio. Not only did it become the place where I make my sculptures, but also the place where I store them and where I keep an archive that has grown enormously over the years”.

Nello studio di Arnaldo Pomodoro. Courtesy Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro
A view of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s studio in the 1970s. Photo Attilio Del Comune. Courtesy Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation

Arnaldo Pomodoro chose never to leave this place, thus creating a strong bond with Milan and this neighborhood. “I love working within the urban fabric because I need the stimuli of the city and the position of this studio is very positive for me, and the atmosphere is ideal”, he tells Domus. “Even though life is tiring and stressful, here I do my work better than anywhere else, so much so that for me this studio is like my home”.

In the early eighties, Vittorio Gregotti started a renovation project that, while maintaining its original characteristics, transformed the former post house into a welcoming and functional place, where the entire life of an artist is enclosed and whose work, from here, branches out into the world.

Progetto di ristrutturazione di Vittorio Gregotti. Courtesy Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro
Studio’s renovation project. Drawing by Vittorio Gregotti, 1980. Courtesy of the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation

“When it rained, water would come down from the roof as well as come in from underground due to a bad drainage system, because the studio is lower than the Navigli level. I’ve always been afraid of water, so I lived with a drowning complex!”. Arnaldo Pomodoro explains how Gregotti, while maintaining the ancient features of the post house, managed to renovate the whole thing “in a very simple and rational way, fixing the flood risk with a system of three underground wells”.


And this is how, slowly but surely, in this little oasis protected by a 200-year-old plane tree, all the souls of the same place have coexisted: a studio, a workshop, a Foundation and now also an exhibition space where, every year, little-known themes and periods of Pomodoro’s research are recounted and explored through original works, documents and archival materials.


The studio is currently displaying a rediscovered masterpiece: “L’inizio del tempo n. 2” (1958 - 230 × 270 cm), a large bas-relief made of lead, zinc and tin coming from Cologne and restored during 2021. This gestural and absolute sign investigates space and time, almost as if wanting to trap their origin in the material. 

We observe the master, who in turn observes his work, together with the collection manager Laura Berra, and he confesses that his studio today looks exactly as he would like to leave it one day. It is a place of research, peace and creation.

Arnaldo Pomodoro e “L’inizio del tempo n. 2”. Foto Elena Vaninetti
Arnaldo Pomodoro in front of the work The beginning of time n. 2, 1958

Right here, in the workshop that gave life to the most majestic sculptures and also hosted many convivial moments with friends and collaborators, today you can hear the laughter of children participating in the many sculpture workshops organised by the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation.

“I have always felt the need to get actively involved with society”, explains the sculptor, who emphasises how important the connection with the city, with Milan, has always been for him. “Getting out of your studio, where you work and are protected by your ivory tower, is not an option, it is a duty. I have always thought that the sculptor’s task is to put themselves out there and get involved with the urban fabric of the city, making the public feel the importance of all art, not just their own”.

Festa di Natale in Studio, 1990. Courtesy Archivio Arnaldo Pomodoro
Christmas party in the studio, 1993. Photo Carlo Orsi. Courtesy Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation

“The better you are, the more I love you,” reads a message written by Monica Vitti on the picture in front of his desk. It was taken in the personal room of the 1964 Venice Biennale, and it shows the recently deceased Italian film icon in profile, with Pomodoro’s sculptures behind her. It also reads: “Where will we end up?”.

Arnaldo Pomodoro e Monica Vitti. Couretsy Fondazione Arnaldo Pomdoro
Monica Vitti and Michelangelo Antonioni photographed in Arnaldo Pomodoro’s personal room at the 1964 Venice Biennale. Photo Giorgio de Cesare. Courtesy Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation

Arnaldo Pomodoro was born in Morciano di Romagna in 1926 and grew up and studied in Pesaro. Since 1954, he has been living and working in Milan. His works can be found in urban spaces in Italy and abroad and in major public collections around the world. He is considered one of the most significant artists on the contemporary scene. In the summary, we quote the subheading of a piece that the artist wrote for the 2001 book Milano città narrata, edited by A. Gaccione, Meravigli, Milan, 2013, pp. 128-130.

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