In the first years of the decade of 1990, Milanese designer Miuccia Prada and husband, Patrizio Bertelli, Prada’s executive director, proclaimed their interest in contemporary sculpture. Such concern was born by happenstance, when a few sculptor friends suggested turning an old industrial building that belonged to the company into an exhibition place for their artworks. The couple quickly approved the idea and devoted their time to an ongoing, in-depth study of contemporary art. The efforts paid off with the inauguration of the Fondazione Prada (Prada Milano Arte), in 1993, harboring respect and admiration from the international art scene.
The Foundation’s new space, located in Milan’s Via Fogazzaro, established a commitment to presenting the most relevant sculptural projects of our time, an objective that was achieved from their first exhibition, which showcased the works of Eliseo Mattiacci, Nino Franchina and David Smith. In 1995, the cultural space (renamed Fondazione Prada) was reorganized, and the art historian and curator Germano Celant was appointed director of the institution. His first initiatives were an exhibition of the works of Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor and a major retrospective of the sculptress Louise Bourgeois.
The Prada Foundation, in continuous evolution, has introduced new projects such as the publication of monographs dedicated to the artists who show their work in their gallery spaces, or projects related to the study of urban and social landscapes. The most recent led to a magnificent permanent installation created by Dan Flavin in the Church of Santa Maria Annunciata, in Chiesa Rossa and the multimedia piece titled Dal Vivo by acclaimed performance artist, Laurie Anderson. In addition, its range of activities has been expanded to new disciplines like architecture, design, philosophy, cinema, and science, which allowed the patronage of architectural projects by Rem Koolhaas and the Swiss group Herzog & de Meuron, the collaboration with the University of Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan for cultural and scientific projects, or the presentation of an exhibition dedicated to the filmography of acclaimed photographer, sculptor and filmmaker Steve McQueen, to name a few examples.
After fifteen years of growth, the Fondazione’s new vision prompted them to, once again, to expand their exhibition spaces. The architect Rem Koolhaas was commissioned to renovate a 1930s industrial complex south of Milan. The city of Venice also joined the project with the opening of Ca Cornerdella Regina; a historic palace located on the Grand Canal, designed by Domenico Rosso and built in 1724. The Palace became the Fondazione new headquarters in June 2013, with the exhibition When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013. ■
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