A new retrospective of Gianni Piacentino curated by Germano Celant will be on display until January 2016 in Fondazione Prada’s new Milan venue, celebrating five decades of stunning design-influenced work in an architecture that’s deeply indebted to Piacentino’s style. Charting from Piacentino’s present-day pieces all the way back to his art from the 1960s, the show drives home the artist’s intense dedication to finding the balance between Pop art and Minimal art through its sparse arrangement of his pieces in the gallery space.
The immaculate steel bodies of his two wheel constructions shine underneath the metallic ceiling’s strip lights, as the similarly functionless flying machines hang on walls like war trophies.
The design of the building by Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA seems tailor-made to house this art, as its crisp clean lines and use of metal and wood finishes mimic the style Piacentino has perfected over the years. This is especially present in his works influenced by the field of transportation (mainly cars, motorcycles and planes), which takes the pop cultural significance of these iconic designs and distills them into nonfunctional minimalist pieces of art. The immaculate steel bodies of his two wheel constructions shine underneath the metallic ceiling’s strip lights, as the similarly functionless flying machines hang on walls like war trophies. The bareness of the white partition walls helps Piacentino’s more planar works stand out, as they utilize vivid colors a less pristine wall would challenge and subdue. The placement of his furniture pieces (possibly the only functional designs in the exhibition) in the middle of the space disrupts the flow through the gallery, inviting patrons to walk around them and inspect their intensely precise craft. This drives home the passion Piacentino has pursued throughout his career; creating art that highlights the importance and beauty found in the technical and calculating design objects many would devalue as simply “functional” necessities. This anthological exhibition proves the validity of his pursuit, as the precise architecture of OMA that houses it couldn’t have been possible without the design revolution brought on by Minimalism. Along with the steady integration of pop culture into this aesthetic, Piacentino has found over the years a marvelous balance in his art that is truly sublime. One can only wonder what the next 50 years of Piacentino’s work will hold.