The Prada Group’s close ties to the art world and culture in general motivate its activities in the protection and promotion of the national heritage. Important components of the brand values, art and culture also determine the Group’s sponsorship and participation in international projects and initiatives.
The Prada Group and FAI
together to protect Italy’s cultural and artistic heritage
Knowledge, concreteness, consistency, independence, quality. These are the five inspirational principles that led Prada to find in FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) a sensitive and attentive interlocutor with which to design and develop initiatives for the common good.
The two players began a long-term, continuous partnership consisting of initiatives aimed at preserving the Italian territory, its history and unique features. Whenever the Prada Group opens a new store in Italy, it supports the local community with a restoration and various enhancement projects.
The initiatives are chosen with great care, as they speak to the entire world, but they have a special focus on the local community. In Bologna, the erudite city, we work on the Archiginnasio, in Florence, dramatically marked by the 1966 flood, we restore a severely damaged altarpiece by Giorgio Vasari, in Turin we are donating a new curtain to the Teatro Regio, and in Padua we are renovating the lighting system for the Shrine of Prosdocimus Abbey of Santa Giustina.
Innovation at the service of preservation
Giorgio Vasari’s extraordinary Last Supper, painted on a wooden panel and dated 1546, was so severely damaged by the Arno river flooding in 1966 that it was left untouched and shifted from one warehouse to another for almost forty years.
The Laboratorio dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence, started in 2004 the delicate work of restoration, originally sponsored by the ordinary planning of the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage, through a special fund of Protezione Civile and also by a fund managed by the Getty Foundation as part of the Panel Paintings Initiative. Since 2014, the Prada Group and FAI have contributed to reaching the final stages of the skillful and patient restoration of the painting, that represents not only an important action for the safeguard of the artistic heritage, but also an opportunity to devise and implement innovative preservation techniques.
On November 4, 2016, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Florence flood, the President of the Italian Republic, accompanied by the Minister for Cultural Heritage and the Mayor of Florence, celebrated the return of the Last Supper to the Cenacle at Santa Croce in Florence, where it once again took up its original position inside the refectory.
This circumstance represented the occasion to emphasized the importance and exceptional nature of this achievement. It is an extraordinary story of studies, hopes, restoration and technological development which made the return of a masterpiece to the world possible. It was also revenge against a fate to which nobody had any intention of submitting.
A high-tech theater curtain
In 2014, thanks to the donation of the Group and of Fondo Ambientale Italiano, the Teatro Regio of Turin was equipped with a new, 48 m long by 10 m tall curtain, with an overall weight of 1450 kilos and a total opening width of 16 meters.
The high-tech design of the curtain allows both horizontal and vertical opening and closing, operations completed in just 5 and 3 seconds, respectively. These are the adjustable minimum lengths allowing Italian and German-style curtain raisings and the more complicated French-style movement, which is a combination of the previous two, raising movements, depending on the choices of the director. The iconic cherry red of its velvet reflects the color scheme chosen by architect Carlo Mollino, who designed the theatre inaugurated in 1973, after a fire destroyed the seventeenth-century building in 1936.
Franciscan saints and a timeworn well
In Puglia, the Prada Group helped FAI restoring a fifteenth-century polyptych by Antonio Vivarini preserved in the Pinacoteca Provinciale of Bari, and the well of Santa Maria in Cerrate, on the outskirts of Lecce. The five remaining panels of the polyptych (three panels of the upper portion are conserved in the Diocesan Museum of Andria) date back to 1467. The works are prized for their fine artistic quality, with subtle hues and slender figures, among which we can recognize three Franciscan Saints belonging to the same religious order of the Convent of Santa Maria in Vetere of Andria, from which the polyptych comes. The back of the panels contains charcoal sketches made by the workshop of Vivarini, if not by the artist himself. The renovation phases included the full sanitizing of the panels to restore the original colors by removing oxidized paint that had dimmed the intensity and brightness of the original colors.
It was probably in the twelfth century that the Normans built the complex of Santa Maria in Cerrate Abbey, now owned by the provincial administration of Lecce. The well located by the church, in the middle of the yard and facing the twelfth-century cloister, was built in 1585 by the Ospedale degli Incurabili, which gained possession of the complex in the sixteenth century. The date is inscribed on the architrave. Over the years, the well has suffered major material damage from erosion, which has subsequently modified the sculptural and decorative patterns and opened fissures in the structure. The restoration work repaired the serious damage caused by the well’s long exposure to the elements.
New light on ancient art
The Sacello di San Prosdocimo, built in the fifth century A.D. and dedicated to the first bishop of Padua, is the oldest place of Christian worship in the city, now a side chapel included in the Basilica di Santa Giustina.
Thanks to the project “Let’s shed new light on San Prosdocimo” it was possible to fit the place with a lighting system that posed no threat to the colors of the frescoes and mosaics. Besides contributing to the correct preservation of the paintings, the new light also enhanced the perception of what is actually an extremely powerful and evocative architectural design. The project saw the collaboration of the Superintendence for the Architectural and Landscape Heritage and for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage.
The heart of the Academy beats once more
On the occasion of the opening of a new store in Galleria Cavour, Prada, in partnership with FAI and the Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage of Bologna, supported the restoration of four statues at the Accademia di Belle Arti and three arches situated in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio. The four gypsum statues, which date back to the eighteenth century, are part of the original collection with which Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili founded the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna in 1710. The original sculptures are Greek and Roman statues currently exhibited at the Uffizi, in Florence, and at the Archaeological Museum in Naples, and symbolize Ercole Farnese, Flora Farnese, a prancing satyr and a group of warriors. The gypsum casts are considered genuine artworks and a guide for the reconstruction and preservation of the original statues. Furthermore, the Prada Group contributed to the restoration of three sixteenth-century arches at Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the former seat of the University of Bologna, which currently houses the historical university library with its more than one million tomes. The arches, decorated between 1625 and 1628, include the monument to Bartolomeo Bonaccorsi (1625), the student emblems (1627-1628) and the monument dedicated to the jurist Francesco Barbadori (1628).
Palais d’Iéna, a multifaceted backdrop
Since 2011, the Prada Group and The Conseil Économique, Social et Environnemental, third constitutional assembly of the French Republic, have an agreement for the use of the Palais d’Iéna, the institution’s headquarters located in the center of Paris.
The agreement, for the first time ever, combines the richness of French cultural and architectural heritage and the interest of the Group commitment to projects and initiatives where architecture, fashion, art and cinema have a central role.
Since then, the Palais has provided the backdrop to Miu Miu’s fashion shows and the venue for various artistic and cultural events whose profits contribute to the preservation of the historical building designed by Auguste Perret to give space to the force of citizen debates and to the vitality of economic, social and cultural activities.
The Palais d’Iéna, built between 1936 and 1946, is considered a landmark of modern architecture: the simplicity of the building, solemn but warm, symmetric and luminous, robust and delicate, combines classic, academic principles with innovative styles and materials for the time.
On November 2016, the restoration works of the prestigious Palais, which started in 2015 after the appearance of clear signs of decay in the reinforced concrete and steel parts of the facades, have been completed. The works mainly concerned the preservation of the exterior ‘Rotonde’, a distinctive architectural element of the building, and the securing of the ‘Ala Iéna’.
Throughout the Rotonde’s restoration the scaffolding was completely covered by an enormous 720 m² and 600 kg artistic canvas, created by the New York-based studio 2×4. This provided the city with an unusual visual experience, and the subsequent auctioning of the panels raised money for the Gustave Roussy Foundation, a charity that supports medical research.
The Medici Fortress, guardian of the Roman/ancient Aretium
In 2014, during the restoration of the Medici Fortress in Aretium, a Roman domus was unearthed, dating back to the first decades of the first century A.D.
The domus has a great historical value for the city. Many other important discoveries have been made within the Fortress, such as the Church of San Donato in Cremona, dating back to the year one thousand, discovered just a few meters from the domus.
The restoration of the Fortress was partially financed by the Prada Group, underscoring the company’s strong link with the territory of Aretium.
A project for the protection and promotion of the site is currently being developed, so that the extraordinary, thousand-year old traces of ancient Aretium, preserved under the defensive structure of the Medici Fortress, can be opened to the public.