PRADA AND ART
Patrizio Bertelli e Miuccia Prada: lords of fashion and art
Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, in business as in life, are the only Italians who have always been present in the ranking of the 200 most important collectors in the world drawn up every year by ARTnews magazine.
United since 1977, the famous designer Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada company, began collecting contemporary art in the early 1990s. With a more experimental and more traditional taste, the couple bought over time the works of the most important artists of the Sixties, from American minimalists to Lucio Fontana, from Jeff Koons to the first results of Damien Hirst.
The couple have always spoken discreetly about their love of art: art and fashion are two contexts kept well apart, in order to avoid “mixtures” (as Miuccia has pointed out on several occasions) that bring nothing but superficial juxtapositions.
Unlike brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Moncler, art never enters the stores of the company founded in 1913 by grandfather Mario Prada or the advertising campaigns of the new collections. For the Prada-Bertelli couple, fashion is fun but frivolous, while contemporary art is serious and intellectual.
While Miuccia began to hold the reins of the fashion house firmly in the late 1980s, designing bags and collections acclaimed throughout the world, in 1993 the couple set up the Prada Foundation, dedicated to contemporary arts and culture, with two offices: Milan and Venice.
Germano Celant (who passed away on 29 April last) was first Artistic Director (1995 – 2014) and then, from 2015, Artistic and Scientific Superintendent of the Foundation, for which he conceived and curated more than forty exhibition projects, from Michael Heizer’s solo show in 1996 to the retrospective dedicated to Jannis Kounellis in 2019.
From 1993 to 2010 there were many exhibitions curated in the Milanese spaces and dedicated to great contemporary artists: Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Walter de Maria, Enrico Castellani, John Baldessari. In 2015 the new pole of Milan, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in Largo Isarco 2, at the former port of Porta Romana, was inaugurated. The building stands on a distillery of the early twentieth century (the Italian Spirits Society) and covers an area of 19 thousand square meters, more than half of which is dedicated to exhibition activities.
In addition to the exhibition spaces there is much more.
In fact, the Prada Foundation hosts the Bar Luce, designed by director Wes Anderson and the Torre Restaurant, designed by Rem Koolhaas. In 2016 a new space in Milan carries the Prada brand: the Observatory, located on the fifth and sixth floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, dedicated mainly to photography.
Patronage, passion but also a lot of study. Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli tell how their interest in contemporary art was born more than anything else as a challenge, almost randomly followed by years of hard study in which the couple began to frequent artists and visit their ateliers.
Miuccia does not like the idea of being a collector, because she believes that collecting is a somewhat “dead” practice that requires a method, a study and a precise criterion. Miuccia is interested in art as a tool, even political, to make a reflection on the world and to understand how to change certain moral and human dynamics. Patrizio, on the other hand, has an excellent eye for business, has more rigour, study and attention in the constant search for excellence and what’s new.
And you, are you ready to discover the Prada-Bertelli couple’s passion for art?