When you cross the Piazza Affari in Milan, you will need to stop and take a picture of a huge middle finger statue in front of the Palazzo Mezzanotte. This provocative art piece is the work of Maurizio Cattelan. It receives the name of L.O.V.E., but the Italians decided to call it Il Dito.
The statue was inaugurated in September 2010, and it was supposed to be there just for a couple of weeks as a temporary art installation. Still, the city liked it so much that they decided to keep it in the heart of Milan indefinitely. This was great for me since I wasn’t aware of it during my first visit to the city in 2015, but I managed to grab some pictures when I got back at the end of 2019.
If New York celebrates the power of Wall Street with a statue of charging bull, Milan went in a completely different direction with its statue in front of the headquarters of the Italian stock exchange. A middle finger stands proudly in the center of the square, flipping off the building I like someone disillusioned by the financial world. But this is not the real reason behind the statue. So, let me explain the history behind it, and you can see if you believe it or not.
Il Dito is how the people of Milan call the statue. Still, its real name is L.O.V.E., which means Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità (Freedom, Hate, Vengeance, Eternity in Italian). At first glance, it seems like the statue is flipping off Palazzo Mezzanotte, the main building in the Pizza Affari. This could make sense since this the home to the Milanese stock exchange. But it seems like this is not the case. When you look closer to the statue, you can see the middle finger is prominent because all the others have been severed from the hand. Somehow, it feels like they were eroded by time or bitten off.In front of the statue is the Palazzo Mezzanotte, and its design is a clear fascist style of architecture that was popular in Italy before the Second World War. Due to that, it seems like the artist wanted to give a middle finger to the building and what is used to represent. But, some people feel like the analogy goes more in-depth, and the metaphor here is the financial institution is the new fascism. But we will never know for sure.
Since Maurizio Cattelan never talked about the meaning behind it, we are left to our own interpretation of the facts. But, personally, I like to believe that this statue is a middle finger to the stock exchange, to fascists anywhere and to the financial institutions behind the stock exchange. Italy has been especially affected but the economic crisis that spread through Europe from 2008 onwards.
Maurizio Cattelan is an artist from Padua, he was born in 1960, and he is known for his irreverent and provocative artwork. His creations always have a way to transform irony into art in an irreverent way. Like Il Dito in the heart of Milan. Or should we say the L.O.V.E. of Milan? I don’t know for sure.
Piazza Affari is in the middle of the business district of Milan, and it’s not a proper touristic destination. Still, we managed to find some time to go there and explore the surrounding area. It’s great to take a detour of the most iconic places in the city to come to see Il Dito and flip the stock exchange and all the fascists. You should do it.
Il Dito in Milan: A Middle Finger to the Italian Stock Exchange
Piazza Degli Affari