Miuccia turns into Alice

Miuccia turns into Alice

Where do foundations come from?

Deciding which exhibition to go to on the weekend is absolutely my favourite way to spend lunch breaks during working days. Since Milano Fashion Week Men has been one of the main topics during the last days my thoughts are going directly to the fashion foundations that fill Milan with their so posh but well studied art collection. 

May at first seem a quite weird duo but actually fashion and art aren’t two worlds so far apart.

Fashion houses have been getting closer and closer to art, both as collectors, sponsors and patrons and in order to pursue this inclination, one of the main medium is the foundation. I think about the Colosseum being restored by Tod’s or Miuccia Prada collecting contemporary artworks in Fondazione and the puzzle comes to be completed. 

Often mistaken for museums, Foundation is born with a private purpose, while a museum has a public financial support: a private collector basically buys art according to his own taste - and affordability. 

And Italians do it very well. Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli have been collecting artworks over the years according to their pleasure and in 1995 they established their own foundation aiming to group different concepts of art and artists. In 2015 the refurbishing of the space in Largo Isacco came to an end as the Fondazione Prada building. 

Nowadays the golden building hosts a huge permanent collection of artists such as Carla Accardi, Jeff Koons, Walter De Maria, Pino Pascali and Damien Hirst to name a few. Moreover each season it’s possible to see at least a temporary exhibition - right now it’s shown USELESS BODIES? by Elmgreen&Dragset an artist duo since 1995 whose research verge towards art, design and architecture. 

Prada basically turned into a patron looking for artists since the Household is not just buying artworks but is giving the chance to the public to see them in a very impressive location which is an artwork itself. You’ve for sure seen tons of those mushrooms room pics where everyone pretends to be Alice in Wonderland - here it is, by Carsten Höller on the last floor! 

Need to recognize Frenchmen commitment: François Pinault, founder of Kering luxury group, gave birth to Fondation Pinault, a contemporary art collection with exhibition spaces both in Paris and Venice. The location in Paris is Bourse du Commerce and it hosts one of my favourite art collections ever seen. Not afraid to admit that last January, while there, my own Stendhal syndrome gave off its best when I started crying right in front of Urs Fisher’s wax statues and David Hammon’s installations. 

Anyway the point is that luxury brand owners are not just buying art but they are showing it - Whether this be out of vainglory or true interest the relevance is that Art and Fashion dialogue much more than we ever assumed looking at a JeffKoonsXLouisVuitton bag. 

The difference between museum and Foundation is basically - and not so surprisingly - the budget: the one who decides to start collecting artwork usually has a very huge asset to swim into this sea. Assets combined with no government commitment give birth to opportunities and freedom - not so easy to find in the Art world. 

Hence Foundations call for the best curator and give them incredible spaces where to exhibit artists, giving each piece the proper space, the appropriate location, and - most importantly - enabling the public to experience art in an unconditioned context. In short, a free context of artworks expressed in independence. 

One of the main examples that comes to my mind is Domenico Gnoli’s exhibition in Fondazione Prada, the last curated by Germano Celant. In huge spaces, high ceilings, plain and silent walls were displayed those equally great works of life details. Walking through the works was as enchanted as Swan Lake ballet and you had the real chance to admire art, a framework which doesn't always happen in public museums or galleries. 

With that i’m not saying that Foundation exhibitions are better than museum ones but - honestly - we need to say that a private patron, being not influenced by government or funds has the opportunity to be an advocate of great success.