Multidisciplinary Experimental Field
The New Fondazione Prada in Milan

“Artists are among the most intelligent people in the world. We want to try to learn from them where the world is going.” This was the reason Miuccia Prada gave for her involvement shortly before the new museum opened. “What interests me, profoundly, are not certainties but doubts, clashes, conflicts.” The Fondazione Prada does not view itself as a conventional museum, but as a knowledge tool, as a place of learning and engagement. In keeping this in mind, the designer and her husband, Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, commissioned the visionary architect Rem Koolhaas to transform a former distillery in the south of Milan into a forum for contemporary art.

Koolhaas preserved large parts of the factory facilities, erected in 1910, adding his own buildings. The result is a complex in which there are repeated breaches between old and new. Particularly striking is the so-called Haunted House, a building coated in gold leaf for more intimate work, and a white, eight-story concrete monolith. With rooms up to nine meters high, the tower has enough space for large-format artworks. Bar Luce, with its Resopal tables and terrazzo floor, is very smart. It was designed by Wes Anderson, the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel, who alludes to cafes in Italian classic films such as Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers.

With the new Fondazione Prada, the design and fashion metropolis Milan is now establishing itself as a place for contemporary art. In this area, the city has a lot of catching up to do. There is still no public museum devoted to contemporary positions there. Contemporary art is mainly shown by companies, including the tire manufacturer Pirelli, which initiated the exhibition venue Hangar Bicocca in 2004. In addition, Deutsche Bank regularly gives the public access to its art presentations at its branches in Bicocca and on Via Turati.

The Fondazione Prada, founded in 1993, is now expanding its multidisciplinary approach. Aside from art, the 11,000 square meters of exhibition space will be devoted to architecture, film, and philosophy. For the opening of the new rooms, in the Haunted House Robert Gober combined a selection of sculptures with works by Louise Bourgeois, including one of her iconic Cells. In a new documentary and a film series, Roman Polanski reveals what influenced his work. Thomas Demand installed the 36-ton cardboard model for his famous photographic work Grotto in a basement room of the cinema building. Three presentations are dedicated to the Collezione Prada. In addition to classic 1960s and 1970s artists such as Lucio Fontana, Donald Judd, and Barnett Newman, a selection of Artists’ Cars by Elmgreen & Dragset, Carsten Höller & Rosemarie Trockel, and Tobias Rehberger are on view.

But Prada wouldn’t be Prada if the opening program didn’t hold a very special surprise. The first exhibition is not devoted to contemporary art. Instead, Serial Classic takes a contemporary look at ancient Roman art and deals with the relationship between original and copy. The Romans copied Greek sculptural masterpieces in grand style. In the Venetian branch of the Fondazione housed in the historic palazzo Ca’ Corner, the corresponding show Portable Classic is simultaneously being staged. It shows what developed from the ancient copies: in the Renaissance, the life-sized marble gods and heroes were shrunk to manageable formats in bronze and terracotta to cater to a humanist educated audience. The idea of making art accessible to a wide public is in line with the laboratory character of the new Fondazione Prada. It offers both extraordinary aesthetic experiences and trans-national thinking for the 21st century.    

Fondazione Prada
Largo Isarco 2, Milan
Serial Classic
05/09/2015 – 08/24/2015

Ca’ Corner della Regina, Vencie
Portable Classic
05/09/2015  – 09/13/2015