“What is the purpose of a cultural institution?” This is the fundamental question, our point of departure. We are convinced that art is profoundly useful and necessary, as well as engaging and attractive. Its role is to enrich our daily lives, help us understand the changes occurring within ourselves and in the world around us. This is the conviction that forms the basis for the Fondazione’s future activities.
Founded in 1993, Fondazione Prada intends to act as an observatory on the current scene, through the staging of art exhibitions as well as architecture, cinema and philosophy projects. Culture is regarded as an effective knowledge tool that triggers a constantly evolving intellectual development.
Throughout its over twenty years of activity, Fondazione Prada has had a constant dialogue with international institutions and museums and collaborated with important contemporary artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Walter De Maria, Thomas Demand and John Baldessari, and has also presented special projects, both in Italy and abroad, among which the “Double Club” by Carsten Höller in London, the “Prada Transformer” by OMA in Seoul and the “24h Museum” by Francesco Vezzoli at Palais d’Iéna in Paris.
In May 2011, Fondazione Prada opened a new exhibition venue in Venice in Ca’ Corner della Regina, a seventeenth-century palazzo looking onto the Grand Canal. The inaugural exhibition curated by Germano Celant has traced, through selected artworks belonging to the Prada Collection, the many activities carried out by the Foundation without imposing a specific thematic interpretation. Subsequently, important research exhibitions have been organized, such as “The Small Utopia. Ars multiplicata”, 2012; “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013”, 2013; “Art or Sound”, 2014 and “Portable Classic”, 2015, “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” and an experimental project, “Belligerent Eyes”.
The inauguration of Fondazione Prada’s permanent venue in Milan in May 2015 was a concrete affirmation of the mindset that has always been its mark of distinction: a quest for a deeper understanding of the role and relevance of cultural institutions today.
Located on Largo Isarco in southeast Milan, the new venue has been carved out of a former industrial complex built in the 1910s. Covering a total area of 19,000 m², the spaces accommodate a variegated programme of exhibitions and cultural events in keeping with the Foundation’s multidisciplinary vocation.
The venue has featured the themed exhibitions “Serial Classic”, “L’image volée” and “TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai”; exhibitions drawn from the Prada Collection such as “An Introduction”, “In Part”, “Trittico”, and “Atlas I”; the film festivals “Roman Polanski: My Inspirations”, “Flesh, Mind and Spirit”, and “The New American Cinema. Torino 1967”; dance projects by the choreographers Virgilio Sieni and Billy Cowie; survey and retrospective exhibitions dedicated to the international artists Goshka Macuga, Theaster Gates, Betye Saar, William N. Copley, and Edward Kienholz; and a virtual reality installation titled “CARNE Y ARENA”, conceived by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
In December 2016 a new Fondazione Prada space dedicated to photography was inaugurated in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. “Osservatorio” is located on the 5th and 6th floors of a building overlooking the centre of the arcade, at the level of the iron and glass dome covering the octagon. It has hosted the exhibitions “Give Me Yesterday”, curated by Francesco Zanot and focusing on the use of photography as a personal diary, and “EU”, curated by Luigi Alberto Cippini, dedicated to the recent works by Japanese photographer Satoshi Fujiwara.
The Accademia dei Bambini, located in the main complex in Milan, hosts multidisciplinary initiatives dedicated to childhood. The project is the brainchild of neuropaediatrician Giannetta Ottilia Latis, who organizes its calendar and shapes its content. The interior design was developed in collaboration with a group of students from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture of Versailles under the guidance of their teachers Cédric Libert and Elias Guenon. Geared for children ages 4 to 10, the academy is an ideal environment for recreational activities and laboratories, an open space for dialogue between adults and children and for various experiences relating to play, creativity, and learning. It enjoys the contributions of designers, artists, set designers, calligraphers, botanists, puppeteers, and scientists who have developed a series of laboratories, workshops, shows, and public events specially for the academy.
Bar Luce, designed by the American director Wes Anderson and situated in the entrance building of the new complex, reproduces the atmosphere of an old Milanese café. The wall and ceiling decoration is a “miniature” version of one of the landmarks of the city, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, while the furniture, colors and interior elements pay tribute to the golden years of Italian cinema, recalling pop culture and the Italian aesthetics of the ‘50s and ‘60s. In a very short time, Bar Luce has become one of the most popular meeting spots in the zone and an urban reference point for Italian and international guests.