Global Art Daily Publication™
Global Art Daily goes to Milan.. And wants to check out: the Prada Foundation. Located on the outskirts of the Milan, it is now on the art circuit map of the young collectors tours and visited by the new young aristocracy of the art world, but also more mature art afficianados.
The Prada Foundation has been active for two decades but never had a permanent venue in Milan before last May 2015. The building's design is worth to be product by genius Peter Marino, who designs Chanel and Barneys stores throughout the world. Formerly a distillery dating back to the 1910s, the Milan outpost of the Prada Foundation is a proper complex, which painted gold paint over grey concrete walls and turned a lighthouse into an installation space. A mix between post-industrial and post-maritime, the grounds mix well with the modern & contemporary art exhibited, as Modern Art is deals perhaps at its core between capitalism and socialism modes of production?
The mission of the Foundation is not just exhibit Prada's extensive modern and contemporary art collection in a shiny glass store-like complex. Their bigger mission a heart is to, and I quote from their Program handout, to answer the bigger issue at hand "What is cultural institution for?" This is the central question of today. (...) Culture should help us with our everyday lives, and understand how we, and the world, are changing. This assumption will be key for the Fondazione's future activities." The Foundation stands as being a welcoming, open, democratic space for the city of Milan. The 10 euros ticket fee was perhaps on the upper echelon side, but Prada certainly fulfils this goal much better than its rival luxury brand, Louis Vuitton. This is a centre for arts: to show and exhibit carefully selected, important of our time's art history - and not a marketing skim for Prada (well at least not so explicit).
So let's delve into the content. First up, the Serial Classic: Multiplying Art in Greece and Rome exhibition on the Podium, running from May 9th to October 24th 2015.
This show deals with the reproducibility of Greek and Roman ancient sculptures. It breaks the myth of the perfect ideal beauty achieved by the Ancient (Greeks especially) and shows that commercialibility and reproducibility are not concepts that Benjamin Walter came up with only in the industrial era. The Greeks, and later the Romans did strive and succeed to shape the perfect human body, but the uniqueness of each piece is a misconception that we associate their work with. As the wall text reads: "The notion of the "classical" tends to evoke the idea of the individual artistic creation: classical art is usually understood as supremely original" when in fact, most sculptures were produced in series.
Are classical sculptures considered classical because they are serial?
I found this exhibition really innovative. It is rare to find an exhibit that has a strong thesis. Walking around the pieces made the point of curators Salvatore Settis and Anna Anguissola clearer, and not more confusing.
It's also interesting to see some Ancient art in a contemporary museum setting. More museums are classified within one genre, but good art can be found in all eras. Why limit yourself to Modernism or Contemporary Art? Usually the dialogues created by different art canons and the surrounding space they are located in make for the unforgettable museum experience. As collector David Mugrabi said of his family art fortune: 'We don't limit ourselves to our genre. We can buy Warhols like Old Masters. Good art is good art.' I couldn't agree more.
Moving on to the other spaces of the Foundation. It has a total of 7 spaces for 7 exhibitions at the one time. This makes it a totally relevant place for our ever-changing need to see new curatorship and new material.
The 'Haunted House' a.k.a. the lighthouse-turned-exhibition-space is a wonderful venue. It shows permanent installations from Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois tucked into an confined space above the ground. One has to go up many stairs to get to the Louise Bourgeois room, a much relevant move for her practice dealing with the intimacy of one's own room and soul.
Housed in the laboratory of the former industrial complex, the galleria Sud makes up for an interesting condensed platform to show such an extensive collection of modern and contemporary masterworks. We are often used to seeing Yves Klein or Jeff Koons on a huge white wall, by themselves. Not often do we have a 'salon' style viewing of contemporary art pieces: it's again, an innovative move from the Prada Foundation curation team.
Another very interesting exhibition with a gorgeous body of work, coming from the Collezione Prada explores "the ideas of the fragmented body in the sculpture of Maurizio Cattelan, Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti and Pino Pascali" and partial silhouettes of various painters such as Yves Klein and David Hockney. Curated by Nicholas Cullinan, I felt a non-imposing, discreet and minimal curator voice yet a very careful one. A quality selection of works.
A few final remarks on the Prada Foundation: it doesn't disappoints, it's perfectly in its zeitgeist, it's an exemplary of a what a contemporary arts foundation should be in 2015. A public, innovative, avant gardiste place where eyes are surprised, where movement is fluid and learning is constant (and where instagramming is made easy with free Wifi). And where a coffee can be exchanged in the beautiful Bar Luce, designed by no other than wonderful film director Wes Anderson.