Coffee has been depicted in paintings for centuries, but recently it has been emerging as a style icon: professional espresso machines are on display in the most charming bars in spectacular museums and foundations around the world.
Artworks with coffee notes
In the 19th century, the exotic drink was already very popular not only among the upper classes, but also among ordinary people: it appeared on the tables and in the hands of ladies and waiters who defined trends and periods, above all the impressionists. Snapshots of the great Parisian coffee season range from the natural End of Breakfast by Renoir to Luncheon in the studio by Manet, who also painted a reference to coffee in the work entitled Chez le Père Lathuille.
Italian paintings appeared shortly afterwards such as In the Café by Zandomeneghi and the painting of the same name by Milesi, as well as the mannered Conversation at the Café by Boldini and the luminous Pergola by Lega.
We cannot forget the energy of Van Gogh‘s Café Terrace at Night, which made the Place du Forum in Arles famous. Another era is evoked by the smoky At the Coffee Table by Munch, Woman with a Coffee Pot by Paul Cézanne and Lorette with Cup of Coffee by Matisse.
In the 20th century, coffee is portrayed in many different ways: showy in Breakfast by Juan Gris, dense and social in Gustoso‘s Greek Coffee, intimate in Hopper‘s Nighthawks and Automat, finally returning to a still life representation – like the first painting that depicted coffee – in the works of Botero or in the ironic The Countess’ Morning Levée by William Hogarth.
Art cafés in Italy
Admiring works of art that portray coffee is prerequisite to grasping a new trend: savoring art coffee, taking a stylish break in a museum bar or in a corner in the shadow of the world’s most important collections. The choice is becoming increasingly rich, but few coffees can compete with the coffee in the new MUMAC café, surrounded by machines that have written the history of espresso, or at the Bar Luce, a small jewel in the Prada Foundation with a cosy ‘50s atmosphere, which features, among pinball machines and jukeboxes, a splendid vintage FAEMA E61.
The forerunner of this new concept of art coffee in Milan was the Triennale, where the Caffetteria e Terrazza, which are unfailingly white and feature design pieces, are real places to experience, letting your gaze freely roam over the most beautiful parks in Milan.
Sipping a coffee in Milan becomes a starred experience at Mudec, in the bistro café run by award-winning chef Bertolini, while it takes on the charm of a starry night in the foyers of the Teatro alla Scala. Another evocative experience is ordering an espresso while sitting between plaster and original statues at one of the few tables in the Atelier Canova Tadolini Museum Café in Rome, whose charm even captivated Stendhal.
Bars in the most fascinating museums in the world
You can enjoy another view at the Cafè Marly at the Louvre, where the outdoor tables overlook the glass pyramids by Ming Pei. The background reflects the atmosphere of the location: luxurious and velvety with a contemporary neoclassical style, far-removed from the exquisite Art Deco style of Cafe Sabarsky in the delightful Neue Galerie in New York, where you can enjoy a Viennese coffee accompanied by a slice of Sacher Torte.
Finally, two small gems: the Kunsthistorisches Museum Cafè in the monumental domed hall of the museum, where you can admire extraordinary works, and the Cycladic Cafè, a secret garden in the heart of Athens that envelops you with its minimalist atmosphere after an incredible visit to the Goulandris collection in the Museum of Cycladic Art.