23 May, 2011

23 May - Prada & Risk

If I were to attempt to follow my thread of musings in the art world and how they manifest in the form of this blog, the common denominator may be my belief in the manifest value of taking risks. Through the works and minds of such disparate characters as Olaffur Eliasson, Marcia Tucker, Alanna Heiss, Bruce Nauman, Dave Hickey, Robert Irwin, Lady Gaga, and Banksy (to name but a few), I have explored the ways that taking risks -- and being uncertain of their outcome -- incites dialog, innovation, fury, passion, transformation.

In the June issue of Vanity Fair, Ingrid Sischy (former Editor and Chief of Interview Magazine) reports on Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli's approach to fashion, life, and the creation of the remarkable art collection that will be presented publicly for the first time in conjunction with the Venice Biennale next month. The Prada Foundation's new home is a 65,000 square foot 18th-century plaza on the Grand Canale in Venice. Sischy describes Prada and Bertelli as collectors dedicated to risk and outside-the-box ideas in the arts, supporting extraordinarily ambitious projects, massive in scale and frequently volatile in nature. "When it comes to materials and logistics, says Prada, 'we are attracted to the nightmares.'"

Prada and Bertelli are remarkable for their approach to collecting. They are unique voices amidst the predictable and often clich├ęd accumulations of high profile art collectors. Not interested in the checklist of heavy auction hitters and the art stars of the moment, "Prada and Berletti have become legendary in the fashion and art world for making their own rules. But they are also believers in careful study; thus, when they decided in the early 1990's to focus on modern and contemporary art as collectors, and to create a foundation that would support outside-the-box ideas, theirs was a commitment."

Contemporary art can create space for independent thought beyond conventional structures and tacit social boundaries. It can electrify minds and create new conduits to experience life, with its issues and conflicts. Prada and Berletti are clearly active and engaged participants in an important international art dialog that involves innovation, originality, and risk. Describing the inaugural exhibition to be presented next month, Sischy asserts that "new ideas don't come along that often, but the exhibition provides a kind of petri-dish environment in which they can cook. Or think of it as a jam session, with artworks riffing on one another thanks to evocative or provocative juxtapositions - Prada likes surprising couplings and unexpected combinations in her fashion as well as her art."

Promoting the possibilities of art, what Tate Director Nicholas Serrota describes as "the nerve endings of contemporary art," requires an openness and excitement in the face of uncertainty rather than the assurance of subscribing to the costly and commercial status quo. Art critic and curator Dave Hickey stated that “if you don’t take risks, if you confirm the prescience of previous investors, you acquire no power, create no constituencies, and have no effect. So you must take risks."

In the Vanity Fair interview Prada states it is "better to make mistakes than be totally correct. We want to do something alive… The whole idea was to try and do something that could help produce new ideas in the future. However much we criticize art for being commercial, it is still a place for freedom and thinking and creativity."

Images: Photographs of the Prada Foundation by Sam Taylor-Wood for Vanity Fair, portrait of Prada by Guido Harari