Galleria Raffaella Cortese was founded in Milan in 1995 by Raffaella Cortese. The dynamism of the gallery immediately manifests itself through the opening of new spaces already in 1998, as the project room dedicated to site-specific works and later, in 2003, a large open-space, in via Stradella 7. In 2014 two other venues, street-facing, are opened on the same street. This specific layout has suggested stronger and more poetic dialogues within the gallery's exhibition projects.

With the first opening exhibition by Franco Vimercati, of whose Estate is represented in Italy by the gallery, Galleria Raffaella Cortese is soon involved in the vibrant debate of those years on photography and the development of its market; the exhibition by Jan Groover, an artist-photographer as well, sanctions the gallery dedication to versatile and eclectic artists, ranging from sculpture, installation, video and performance within an international and transgenerational program. Since 2002, beside the solo shows of authors exhibiting for the first time in Italy, the gallery presents collective shows, where often the trait d'union are literary works that reflect important themes of the gallery’s artists, such as the exhibitions Perturbamento, Cave Birds and Ocean 1212-W. The love for books translate into an interest for artist's book which are proposed in some iconic exhibitions, as the one on the carvings and the artist's books by Kiki Smith, in 2007.

From the beginning Galleria Raffaella Cortese build its identity around its constant interest in women artists, especially American, who are close to the feminist and post-feminist ideas, as Zoe Leonard, Roni Horn, Martha Rosler, Kiki Smith and Joan Jonas, only to name a few, orienting an exhibition program towards individual, national and political identity, feminist issues, language and literature. Raffaella Cortese has also been devoted to young italian talents such as Monica Bonvicini, Francesco Arena, Michael Fliri and Marcello Maloberti, artists who have achieved international important awards throughout the years.

In a continuous and stimulating balance between research and experimentation, and thanks to its constant collaboration and trusted relationships with the artists, Raffaella Cortese, who has reached almost 25 years of activity, is always at the center of Milan's cultural life, collaborating with the city's and national institutions, placing the gallery into a wider artistic panorama promoting international projects and exhibitions.

Galleria Raffaella Cortese has also participated intensely at the most prestigious art fairs as Art Basel, Fiac Paris, Frieze New York, Miart, Artissima, Arco Madrid in order to promote the work and the market of the represented artists.

Great commitment is conveyed in the care, training and growth of collectors, trying to stimulate and bring to the passion for art even the new generations, through the organization of specific events including the gallery talk program organized by the gallery to promote dialogue between the artists, the public and curators.