Milan, Italy - After 7 long years in the planning, Miuccia Prada's and husband Patrizio Bertelli's private casa for their contemporary art collection, was finally unveiled end of last week. Hot on the heels of various collaborations around the globe between luxury fashions houses, contemporary art and starchitects (the most recent example which comes to mind being Frank Gehry's tour de force in the Fondation Louis Vuitton), Rem Koolhas's stellar architectural masterpiece will soon find its place in the echelons of such successful collaborations.
Before the Fondazione Prada came onto the contemporary arts scene so spectacularly, it does seem peculiar that a country so steeped in art and its movements and and staging one of the most prestigious art events, the Venice Biennale, has not caught up as quickly with its contemporary art institutions of late. Even the most hyped opening of Zaha Hadid's curvy Maxxi in Rome couldn't keep the initial buzz aflame with lacklustre exhibitions and low attendance rates. However, if previews are anything to go by, this might change with the arrival of this statement of an arts institution.
Apart from Rem Koolhaas, the Fondazione has managed to round up the who's who in the contemporary art and design worlds to make this all possible. The curation is by Germano Celant, long-time head curator of Prada and the recently-appointed head of London’s National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan who is behind the marquée exhibitions In Time, with contributions by Madame Prada herself. The art is even more impressive, from Hockney, Man Ray to Hirst's faux aquarium Lost Love. To end, you can even sip a cup of espresso in a Wes Anderson-designed café over pinball machines themed after his film repertoire.
Miuccia Prada has always been vocally adamant about keeping her interests in fashion and art separate and so in showcasing her latter interest in this behemoth 7-buildings complex with frequently rotating exhibitions which even includes the discipline of film-making (there is a Polanski appearance in 1 of the current exhibitions, for example), she has more than kept to her dogma. And putting Milan, and possibly Italy, back on the contemporary art world map? Only time will tell, but in the mean time, Prada seems to be strutting this catwalk with much aplomb.
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