An Insider's Guide To Naples: Irish Artist Philip Colbert - The Gloss Magazine

An Insider’s Guide To Naples: Irish Artist Philip Colbert

Irish artist Philip Colbert’s latest exhibition is on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, a city he knows well and for which he shares his recommendations…

Irish artist Philip Colbert has created a global following for his cartoon lobster persona and his hyper pop history paintings. (See his house tour here.) His current exhibition “House of the Lobster” is on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN) where visitors will find a series of marble and bronze sculptures by Colbert which pay homage to the origins of lobster mythology inspired by the museum’s mosaic collection from Pompeii – discovered between 1830 and 1832. The exhibition not only traces the significance of lobsters in art history but also explores themes such as conflict and the cyclical nature of life. As Philip has been spending a lot of time in Naples recently, he shares places to see, sip and savour.

“Naples is a city I have been drawn to since I was a kid, with its historic volcano, legendary pizza and the days when Maradona was playing for Napoli. But the thing that really has me hooked on the city is its remarkable ancient history. Founded by the ancient Greeks in the first millennium BC, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. It’s an ancient organism that’s very much alive. The preserved archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are must-visits.”

For culture: “The MANN Musuem, where I just opened my show, is beautiful. It’s a lovely pink building surrounded by palm trees, while inside it’s filled with masterpieces displayed in the most charming layout in beautiful rooms. It was originally a cavalry barracks and then the city’s university. The museum was established by the French king Charles VII in the late 18th century to house the antiquities he inherited from his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, as well as treasures looted from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Star exhibits include the celebrated Toro Farnese (Farnese Bull) sculpture and mosaics from Pompeii’s Casa del Fauno. For me, the mosaics and frescoes are a window into the great art of antiquity, and challenge your perspective on art history. Much of Renaissance art is a copy of these ancient works. Check out the Alexander mosaic and the marine scene, featuring the lobster and octopus.”

For coffee: “San Martino Museum sits at the top of the hill in a stunning location. From the front terrace the view over Naples is phenomenal and is such a great spot to have a coffee or ice cream or both. The museum itself is also amazing, a beautiful building with lovely courtyards. I was lucky to have a sculpture show there last year.” @sanmartinomuseo

For pizza: “The world renowned Concettina Ai Tre Santi is the first place I go when I arrive in Naples. It’s in the chaotic but lively Sanità district of the city and has been in the same family for over 60 years. I became friends with the owner, Ciro Oliva, after I met him at my show opening. The restaurant has a fun vibe and of course the pizzas are delicious – the menu includes all the classics as well as imaginative pizzas and various fried specialities.” @concettina3santi

For seafood: “La Bersagliera 1919 is located at the Borgo Marinari part of the city. It overlooks boats in the harbour and aces relaxed dining and a delicious menu.”

For history buffs: “The catacombs of San Gaudioso are one of the most important early Christian cemeteries in the city. Entry is under the church of Santa Maria della Sanità. In the crypt, which was originally reserved for Neapolitan aristocrats, the walls are decorated with the most macabre hybrid of human skeletons and skulls, and frescoes painted by Giovanni Balducci. He refused payment – his only condition was that he wanted to be buried among the aristocrats in the Catacombs.”

For sculptures: “Sansevero Chapel is a small and beautiful chapel, most famous as the home of the legendary ‘Veiled Christ’ marble sculpture by Antonio Corradini. If you love Rococo art then this is a must-visit – other notable sculptures include Il Disinganno with elaborate fishing net details. In the crypt meanwhile are brilliant anatomical machines reproducing the human circulation system.”

Need to Know: “The House of Lobster” will be at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples until April 1;


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