The Prada Foundation in Venice, always a sumptuous experience has now become even more spectacular with the latest addition of Rem Koolhaas’s Torre, a multi story tower with installations that culminates in a restaurant modeled after the Four Seasons. It was closed when I was there so I cannot report on that, only that the spicy tuna sandwich at the original cafe was delicious and fast.
You need to be fast because there is much to see, especially now Post Zang Tumb Tuuum, a show that would not have been possible just a few years ago on the art of Italy pre and post WW2. It begins with the great Futurists (I can never have enough Boccocconi or Severni, though there are not the best examples here) and carries on through the Fascistic era. Now, buildings and paintings we once thought were edifici non grata are being newly rediscovered as examples of a certain style. Much of this art would have passed as Flea Market Art about a decade ago and it is still not the strongest period, but the curators have added vintage books, posters and ephemera and so we have an understanding of the motivations.
I am a bit of a sucker for this stuff, even in its middlebrow incarnations, because in the aggregate there is an elegance that defies the often repressive or anti Semitic period during which it was made. Artists such as de Chirico had already been fingered, but there are many society painters and designers who must have been working with one eye closed.
It’s a very large show which takes up many pavilions and I recommend it both as an artifact and a welcome addition to scholarship of the period which many of us having been avoiding.
A local very knowledgeable friend who accompanied me on my visit said, “Who knows how long this all can last? “ By that she meant that retail luxury business is down worldwide and that Prada too had been affected. Though many luxury houses have contributed mightily to the arts, I would have to say that the scholarship at Prada is always top drawer and introduces me to work with an excellent historical perspective.