by adeline talbot

I couldn't resist posting this close up of a deeply affecting work by Damian Hirst.   'Lost Love' sits in pride of place in one of Fondazione Prada's large exhibition spaces; its steel and plate glass chamber filled with perfectly clear liquid, examining room equipment and an uncountable number of tropical fish.   'Pristine' as both a deadeningly clinical experience and as a pure and life-promoting necessity (...not to mention a plain old flat out gorgeous object...). Below there's more about Fondazione Prada, Milan's newest cultural destination, but in the meantime, click the button to enjoy the brief and fishy  show...

I do feel like a lucky gal.  Part of what I see as my job is to keep up with what's going on in the world of visual arts.  Increasingly what seems to be going on is that new museums are destinations all on their own.  Not precisely fair to Milan, long a destination for many, many things.  Business. Fashion. Industrial Design.  It is, after all, the fifth largest city in the E.U. and one of the of the most economically robust metropolitan regions in Europe.  Until May of this year, however, Milan lacked what many other far less cosmopolitan cities now boast, a significant contemporary arts institution.   All this changed with the May opening of Fondazione Prada.

Connected to one of Milan's core businesses but not directly of it,  Fondazione Prada, is a vast and hauntingly beautiful complex of buildings and grounds , designed by Rem Koolhaus, that includes exhibition space, a theater and, of course, the requisite cafe, though this can claim the singular--and singularly charming--feature of having been designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson. 

Nothing about Fondazione Prada is precisely what it seems.  It is not a museum, at least not according to Muiccia Prada, but rather "...the continuation of an intellectual process founded on the exploration of doubt and on extensive research.” It is most certainly not in or near the cultural center of Milan, instead being a 15 to 20 minute taxi ride to industrial area and wedged between a large railroad yard and a series of drab, low-rise warehouses.   One staggeringly beautiful and yet otherwise inexplicable feature is its gold leaf tower that seems to have no function other than to exist as nine stories of pure, radiant beauty.  Perhaps the most confounding feature of all for this contemporary art institution is its opening exhibition: 'Serial Classic', a gorgeously mounted exhibition of 'Roman antiquities as multiples'.  This Boston Globe review ( CLICK HERE ) gives a far better description than I could ever hope to of the complex and of the opening exhibition so I hope you will give it a read.

I will end with my usual advice and that is 'Go'.  In my experience, Milan is Italy's least expensive city to fly in and out of from the US  and yet it is central enough in this compact country to be a practical starting point to most Italian vacations. There is a lot to see and do but if you only have a day or just need starting point you simply cannot do better than Fondazione Prada. 

...and at the end of busy day of seeing the sights I hope you will consider booking a table at Cantina della Vetra where I had one of the best meals of my recent life when I was there in early June.  Just perfect in every way including the plus of its location in central Milan.