Fast and furiouso: Gianni Piacentino takes Fondazione Prada

 the meticulous speed-freak minimalism of Italian artist
(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani )

It seems entirely fitting that the frankly remarkable new Fondazione Prada kicks its curatorial programme into top gear with the meticulous speed-freak minimalism of Italian artist Gianni Piacentino. Curated by Germano Celant, the exhibition, taking over two levels of the complex’s Podium galleries, includes 100 pieces, covering Piacentino’s career from 1965 to today.

Turin-based Piacentino, now 72, was a key figure in the development of the Arte Povera movement but quickly went his own way. And quickly. Piacentino is obsessed with vintage motorbikes and aeroplanes and many of his works are pared down abstractions of these dream machines; bits of wing or engineless frames and chassis, but always precisely engineered and beautifully finished (Piacentino restores and repaints vintage bikes for fun and was, for a short while, a professional bike racer). A dab hand at everything from websites to print catalogues, Piacentino even produced a limited edition cover for Wallpaper* earlier this year (W*196).

Piacentino’s work is a kind of Pop influenced minimalism, high on speed and paint fumes and the heavy then delicate artisanship of the body shop. As Celant says, Piacentino’s art roars out of somewhere ‘between art and design, craftsmanship and manufacturing, the useful and the useless, singularity and seriality.’ And is born of a ‘background culture rich with applied sciences, artisan expertise, mechanical precision and engineering processes.’ Vroom vroom. Except not quite, not just. There is something plainly elegiac in the work, slow and reverent. For Celant, Piacentino’s career represents ‘an absolute escape from the imperfection, instantaneity and randomness of making art, in order to access a universe of perfection, calculation and concentration that can compete with a motor or flight vehicle, on both sublime and absolute levels.’

The exhibition of podium galleries

Curated by Germano Celant, the exhibition takes over two levels of the complex’s Podium galleries and includes 100 pieces, spanning Piacentino’s career from 1965 to present day. 

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani )

View of pearl wall wing with signed nickel plate

From top to bottom: Pearl wall wing with signed nickel plate, 1971; Amaranth and pearl decorated and initialed rectangular bar, 1971; Turquoise-gray pearl proppeller-wing with initialed nickel plate I, 1971; Race (F.H.W.) 3, 1991. Photography: Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Piacentino’s work with speed and paint fumes

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani )

Build Seaplane

Pictured: Build Seaplane (MC72)_4, 2010.

(Image credit: Michael Werner )

Piacentino’s art design, craftsmanship and manufacturing

As Celant says, Piacentino’s art roars out of somewhere ‘between art and design, craftsmanship and manufacturing, the useful and the useless, singularity and seriality.’ Photography: Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani )

Light blue silver reading desk object,

Pictured left: Light-blue silver reading-desk object, 1967-1968. Right: Light-blue gray looking-glass object, 1967-1868. 

(Image credit: Michael Werner )

Gianni Piacentino Fondazione Prada

There is something plainly elegiac in the work, slow and reverent. 

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Gray, purple gray, silver triangle vehicle

Pictured: Gray, purple-gray, silver triangle vehicle, 1971-1972. 

(Image credit: Michael Werner )

Matt metal brown-purple big table sculpture

Pictured center: Matt metal brown-purple big table sculpture, 1967–68. Right: Metalloid orange-ochre reading-desk object, 1967–68. Photography: Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Gianni piacentino fondazione prada art

For Celant, Piacentino’s career represents ‘an absolute escape from the imperfection, instantaneity and randomness of making art, in order to access a universe of perfection, calculation and concentration that can compete with a motor or flight vehicle, on both sublime and absolute levels.’ 

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani )

INFORMATION

’Gianni Piacentino’ is on view until 10 January 2016 at Fondazione Prada website (opens in new tab)