Fondazione Prada, which opened with series of events in Milan a few months ago, is not an ordinary museum or public gallery, is an institution co-chaired by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli since 1995 dedicated to contemporary art and culture, founded on the idea that culture is an effective knowledge and a learning tool. It arrives on the back of a long process of discussion and debate across the city, during which various models for contemporary institutions were proposed, debated and rejected.
The project involved the renovation of seven existing buildings as well as the design of three new ones at a complex located in southern Milan – an old distillery dating from 1910 – designed by OMA, the studio of renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, who has designed a number of Prada stores in the last 15 years, coexisting two conditions: preservation and the creation of a new architecture which, although separate, confront each other in a state of permanent interaction. “We didn’t work with contrast but on the contrary, we tried to create a situation where old and new can work very seamlessly together” he explained. “That was actually our ambition”.
The Fondazione also features Bar Luce, designed by the film director Wes Anderson, in a retro style with references to the typical Milanese cafes of the 1950s and 60s.
The launch of the new space is staring by an ambitious and varied program of exhibitions. The Podium building – designed to host temporary exhibitions – and the cinema, are both into the centre of the complex. They divide the space into a series of small courtyards, some level and some sloping. The second one is a standalone structure partially sunken underground, that involves a project titled “Roman Polanski: My Inspirations”, a documentary based on some of the films that have most influenced him, such as Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane or Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.
The spaces of the Cisterna, hosts “Trittico”, which presents three works from Eva Hesse, Damien Hirst and Pino Pascalli, juxtaposed to create interplay of formal cross-references, conceptual affinities and exceptional concentration. All of them developing minimalistic geometries associated to objects and elements of nature with the shape of the cube.
Meanwhile, the golden “Haunted House” – not for the paint but for the wall cladding – hosts a permanent installation by Robert Gober, whose art that explores sexuality, relationships, nature, politics and religion, its counterpart with the two works by Louise Bourgeis.
The Sud gallery and part of the Deposito; the imposing warehouse located on the west limit of the compound, hosts “An Introduction”, an exhibition that starts in the 1970s artistic realm; from New Dada to Minimal art. The show investigates different methodologies of collecting works by artists including Pino Pascali, Jeff Koons and Carsten Höller among others.
“In Part” is staged in the Nord gallery, the exhibition explores the idea of the fragmented body in the sculptures of Giulio Paulini and Lucio Fontana, through the representation of ruins in the work of John Baldessari and David Hockney, in the use of the photographic close-up to crop the body in the paintings of Michelangelo Pistoletto and William Copley, in the collaged and defaced portraits of Llyn Foulkes, in the partial silhouettes of Yves Klein and in the superimposition of figures in the paintings of Francis Picabia.