Prada mixes fashion, art and Wes Anderson bar in Milan

Wed May 6, 2015 12:43pm EDT
 
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By Farah Nayeri

(Reuters) - Prada -- the Devil's favorite fashion brand, as the film and book would have it -- is launching a giant multi-disciplinary arts complex on the edge of Milan that it hopes will attract tens of thousands of visitors a year.

The Italian fashion house opens a 19,000-square-meter (205,000-square-foot) headquarters for its art foundation on May 9 in a century-old ex-distillery transformed and extended by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

The inaugural program features an exhibition on classical sculpture and a special appearance by Polish-born filmmaker Roman Polanski, who will present a documentary and a series of film screenings looking back on directors who influenced him most.

Koolhaas has added three new buildings to the existing structure: an exhibition pavilion, a tower and a cinema. A mixed program of art exhibitions, film screenings and philosophy projects is planned.

The Fondazione Prada also boasts a bar designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson ("The Grand Budapest Hotel"), who has modeled it after historic Milanese cafes.

"There's no museum of contemporary art in Milan and no real dedication from the municipality to promote" such art, said Astrid Welter, project director of the Fondazione Prada. "This is why it was seen as a necessity to come in with an offering."

Every other year, Italy stages the world's biggest art exhibition -- the Venice Art Biennale -- hosting a roster of cutting-edge artists from around the world.

Yet the Italian government has otherwise been slow to embrace contemporary art within its museums and institutions. It was not until May 2010 that the country got its first national museum of contemporary art, Rome's MAXXI.   Continued...

 
A man stands near a sculpture called "Torso of the Discobolus" at the Prada Foundation in Milan, May 6, 2015. Prada is launching a giant multi-disciplinary arts complex on the edge of Milan that it hopes will attract tens of thousands of visitors a year. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini