FONDAZIONE PRADA

Prada’s art foundation has announced its new venue by OMA‘s research arm AMO will open this May.

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Scheduled to welcome visitors on 9 May, the Fondazione Prada will be located on a Milanese industrial site at Largo Isarco – south of Milan’s city centre and away from the brand’s headquarters. Led by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and first revealed in 2008, AMO’s design includes 11,000 square metres of exhibition space intended to “expand the repertoire of spatial typologies in which art can be exhibited and shared with the public”.

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Seven preexisting buildings of a 1910s former distillery will be linked by three new structures:

  1. an exhibition venue
  2. an auditorium
  3. a museum tower

The complex will host Fondazione Prada’s array of events, relating to disciplines including cinema, design, architecture, philosophy, fashion and performance.

The entrance building will connect to a children’s area designed by students from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles, and the bar modelled on traditional Milan cafes by director Wes Anderson,  who is best known for films including The Life Aquatic and The Grand Budapest Hotel.The foundation is being moved from its current location at Via Fogazzaro 36, which hosted Prada’s menswear show in a space designed by AMO.

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Prada has an ongoing relationship with OMA that goes back 25 years. The two companies have previous collaborated on a series of store interiors, catwalk designs and exhibition spaces, including the Prada Transformer in Seoul.

Fondazione Prada was founded by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli in 1993 as a non-profit organisation focussed on contemporary art.

The organisation’s Venetian venue will continue to operate in the 18th century Palazzo Ca’ Corner della Regina. The two locations are set to host concurrent exhibitions of ancient art from Prada’s collection this summer.

Both projects, whose display system has been conceived by OMA, analyse the themes of seriality and the copy in classical art and the reproduction of small-scale Greek and Roman sculptures from the Renaissance to Neoclassicism, respectively,” said Fondazione Prada in a statement.

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It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for art’s display remains limited. It seems that art’s apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: the gallery (white, abstract and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary museum (a barely disguised version of the department store) and the purgatory of the art fair.

The new Prada Foundation is also projected in a former industrial complex – Largo Isarco – but one with unusually diverse environments. We plan to add three new structures that vastly extend the range of the existing facilities, and to exploit existing buildings in new ways.

The great hall, an existing building, will be adapted for curatorial ingenuity: in its basement, the Fondazione’s collection will be arranged in a hybrid of strict storage and partial display, creating ‘chambers’ where work such as a fleet of artists’ cars can be unpacked or half opened to the public. This move was inspired by the increasing sophistication of artists’ crating, suggesting a constant increase in value, mobility, and an almost militaristic need for preparedness. When displayed in its stored condition, even with a wrapping, art retains its aura.

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The freestanding object to the west of the great hall, for reasons that are no longer clear, has a number of unusual features. Divided in three rooms with three interior ‘pulpits’ connected to an exterior balcony, its configuration suggests a precise industrial need that now reads as a quasi-religious environment. This object will be preserved.

Four ‘houses’ that face the courtyard to the north and an abandoned garden to the south will accommodate Fondazione offices and permanent galleries. The ‘Haunted House‘ is an unusual vertical structure with many different rooms, and balconies that overlook the complex and the city. It will be decorated with changing wallpapers and other devices of interior design to generate an instrument for ‘domestic’ setting for specific works. Largo Isarco currently contains two archives: Prada’s, methodically collected in grey shelving, and that of Luna Rossa’s campaigns. They will become a fundamental part of the Fondazione’s holdings.

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The major addition to Largo Isarco will be a tower.

A ‘Black Box’ will act as an autonomous cell, independent from the world – a meeting ground for art, media, technology and the public. It will also open up to animate and interact with the courtyard for open-air movies and other, yet to be imagined performances. In its default mode, it is a NASA-like control room, connected to other parts and episodes of the art system, captured and monitored in real time.

The final addition is the ‘Ideal Museum‘, combining the intimate qualities of a traditional museum – a collection of rooms of various dimensions and qualities – with a large open day-lit hall for exhibitions of larger objects; both will enable the sophisticated technical controls demanded for international exchange of exhibitions.

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Fondazione Prada will launch its new set Saturday 9th May, but from  2th May there will be a lot of events: Roger Gober and Thomas Demans will realize “site specific” installations; the director movie Roman Polaski will explore the suggestions that inspiring his movies in a project that will be a documentary and a film review and finally a selection of Prada’s products will be present through temathic expositions.

Last but not least, Serial Classic programs will set in Milan until the end of August and Portable Classic, in Venice, curated by Salvatore Settis in collaboration with Anna Anguissola and Davide Gasparotto.

Ludovica Quagliato

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