Art and culture help us with our everyday lives, and understand how we, and the world, are changing. The intellectual research is not only useful and necessary, but it can also become attractive and engaging. These assumptions are key for Fondazione Prada’s activities which, through an evolution of projects, have analyzed intentions and relevance of today’s cultural engagement.
From 1993 until 2010 these have included monographic commissions developed by international artists such as John Baldessari, Louise Bourgeois, Walter De Maria, Nathalie Djurberg, Dan Flavin, Carsten Höller and Steve McQueen, contemporary philosophy conferences and initiatives related to the fields of cinema and architecture, which took place in Milan, Venice and in other venues in Italy and abroad. Since 2011 a series of extensive research exhibitions such as “The Small Utopia. Ars Multiplicata”, “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013”, “Art or Sound”, “Portable Classic”, and a platform devoted to the cinema were organized at its Venice venue located at the historic palazzo of Ca’ Corner della Regina.
With the opening of its Milan headquarters in 2015, Fondazione Prada’s experimental vocation and its long-lasting engagement towards the correlation between different artistic languages and disciplines has been expanded. The architectonic complex, designed by OMA led by Rem Koolhaas, is the result of a combination of post-industrial buildings and new spaces.
Located in Largo Isarco, in the South of Milan, in a former distillery dating back to the 1910s, the compound has a surface area of 19,000 m2 of which 11,000 m2 is dedicated as exhibition space. It comprises seven existing structures, including warehouses, laboratories, and brewing silos and three new buildings: Podium, Cinema and Torre. Podium combines two structures with very different qualities: a fully glazed, column free ground floor, and an aluminum foam clad beam on the top floor. Both galleries provide large, multi-purpose areas for art exhibitions and events. Cinema is a flexible and multifunctional building. It is a fully equipped movie theater where a series of film festivals and events has been presented. A central courtyard separates it from the Podium, to which it can be visually connected when its large bi-folding doors are opened to the outside. Torre marks the completion of the foundation’s Milan venue. The 60-meters high white concrete building is becoming a recognizable landmark for the Fondazione, revealing itself within Milan’s urban skyline. The irregular geometry of Torre allows its exterior appearance to vary according to different observation points, and perfectly embodies the architectural vision for the entire Fondazione, which features an ensemble of oppositions and fragments that never congeal into a single image.
This rich spatial array encourages an extensive program open to cultural stimuli and today’s intellectual debate. This renewed commitment has been embodied by historic exhibitions such as “Serial Classic”, new collaborative projects with renowned artists such as Robert Gober, Theaster Gates and Goshka Macuga, in-depht retrospectives devoted to relevant figures like William N. Copley, Leon Golub, Edward Kienholz and Betye Saar, performing arts projects with choreographers Virgilio Sieni and Billy Cowie and festivals conceived by international film directors like Roman Polanski and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
Since 2016 Fondazione Prada’s investigation spectrum has been enlarged to photography and visual languages, thanks to the opening of Osservatorio, a new outpost located in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, where group and solo shows by Italian and international photographers have taken place.
In 2017 Fondazione Prada’s long-lasting engagement towards the correlation between cinema, technology, media production and the arts was embodied by three emblematic projects: “TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai”, an exploration of the Italian TV production translated in an innovative visual experience, “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.”, a transmedia exhibition project that involved filmmaker Alexander Kluge, artist Thomas Demand, and stage and costume designer Anna Viebrock, and “CARNE y ARENA”, an immersive VR experience conceived by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for which he was awarded a special Oscar.
The Accademia dei Bambini, located in Milan main venue, hosts multidisciplinary initiatives dedicated to childhood. The project is conceived by neuropaediatrician Giannetta Ottilia Latis, who organizes its calendar and shapes its content. Mainly devoted to children from 4 to 10 years old, the Accademia dei Bambini is an ideal environment for didactic activities and laboratories, an open space for dialogue between adults and children and for various experiences relating to play, creativity, and learning.
Bar Luce, designed by the American director Wes Anderson in 2015 and situated in the entrance building of the complex, has soon become an iconic spot for Milan citizens and Italian and international visitors. It reproduces the atmosphere of an old Milanese café and is reminiscent of pop culture and the Italian aesthetics of the ‘50s and ‘60s.