Recycling Beauty at Fondazione Prada, Milan, through February 27, 2023

“The exhibition is part of a broader investigation undertaken by Fondazione Prada since 2015, when it simultaneously presented ‘Serial Classic’ and ‘Portable Classic’ in its Milan and Venice spaces, two exhibitions curated by Salvatore Settis (with Anna Anguissola in Milan, and Davide Gasparotto in Venice) and designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA. The underlying premise of this research is the need to think of the classical not simply as a legacy of the past, but also as a vital element with the power to affect our present and future. Such themes as seriality, reuse, and recycling in art are closely linked to our conception of modernity, but they also attest to the extraordinary persistence of certain classical values, categories, and models. Through an innovative interpretive approach and experimental exhibition formats, ancient heritage—in particular Greco-Roman heritage—becomes, in Settis’ words, ‘a key that provides access to the multiplicity of cultures in the contemporary world’.” — Fondazione Prada

As Salvatore Settis explains, “Reuse entails the coexistence of different temporalities, in which historical distance and narrative and emotional simultaneity are continually intertwined. The ancient Roman marbles belong to the same cultural horizon as those who reuse them, therefore appropriating them is felt to be natural. But the dimension of time evades the sequence of the calendar: it is unstable and can be manipulated and bent […]. Why take from ruins a relief, a vase, a capital? Why carry it somewhere else to insert it into a new context? The answers explored in recent decades go in three complementary directions: reuse can have a value that is either memorial (aimed at the past), foundational (directed towards the present), or predictive (oriented towards the future). Without documents it is often difficult to decide which of these intents prevailed from one case to the next; it is certainly possible that they were present simultaneously. […] The heart and spur of the act of reuse is often, or maybe always, ‘to insert the past into the future,’ as German historian Reinhart Koselleck contends to foresee or determine its development. The new context absorbs what it reuses, but it must (and wants to) leave it recognizable even while (or rather, precisely because) it takes possession of it.”

Exhibition views of “Recycling Beauty” at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photos: Roberto Marossi. Images courtesy Fondazione Prada.

“Recycling Beauty” was curated by Salvatore Settis and Anna Anguissola with Denise La Monica, and was designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, together with Giulio Margheri.