01 October 2019

Coming up in October

Marisa Merz in Lugano. Marisa Merz, who died recently, was unquestionably one of the most significant and most enigmatic exponents of contemporary Italian art. Totally against all protagonism and an indissoluble part of an engaging and inseparable duo (which, at times, overshadowed her) with her volcanic husband Mario, Marisa built a personal and continuous artistic career, interwoven with subtle, mysterious signs. Giancarlo and Danna Olgiati are holding a major retrospective of her work at the LAC in Lugano until 12th January 2020.

Alessandro returns to Groninger: Italian design’s own Alexander the Great, the hugely missed Mendini, is back with a large respective at the Groninger museum, which he designed along with his brother Francesco, twenty-five years ago. Mondo Mendini – The World of Alessandro Mendini (this is its title) is thus taking over what really is a Mendini world: an exhibition project on which Sandro himself worked passionately right to the end, and which not only testifies to his incredible progress through the history of design, but also to an limitless vital energy and constant generosity towards past and present designers, who have their own place in the heart of the exhibition. Runs until 5th May 2020.

Why the miniskirt wasn’t just a shorter skirt than others! Until 16th February 2020, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is paying homage to Mary Quant and her extraordinary invention – not just a short skirt but a powerful instrument of women’s liberation and an enduring icon of 1968 and Swinging London (not to mention the hot pants with coloured tights, also a Quant brainwave!).

Mimmo Jodice in Milano: we don’t usually feature exhibitions in private galleries in this space, but it’s impossible to pass over Mimmo Jodice’s first one-man show in Milan (at Vistamarestudio till 9th November). Entitled Open City/Open Work and curated by the American Douglas Fogle, the exhibition showcases Jodice’s forgotten 1960s early work, connected with his spiritual home, Naples.

Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today. The Vitra Design Museum is tackling the avantgarde art that has always prompted the most visceral reactions from the public – absolutely loved or totally refuted. It is doing this in a meta-storic key, examining the way Surrealism has always been a design constant, continually at our disposal. Masterpieces by Dalì, Magritte, Man Ray dialogue with design pieces by Carlo Mollino and Front, as well as by masters apparently at odds with the movement embraced by Achille Castiglioni, Le Corbusier and Ray Eames. There’s a lot to discover at Weil am Rheim between now and 1st January 2020, and possibly much to discuss, since the real title of the exhibition is Objects of Desire.

The Bauhaus Museum in Dessau. The new museum opened as planned in the centenary year of the foundation of the famous school, and is located in the centre of the German town to which the Bauhaus moved in 1925. Destined to hold one of the world’s largest collections of Bauhaus objects, it was designed by the Catalan group Addenda Architects, winners of an international competition. The building is split into two parts – a long glass-clad ground floor wing (5,500 m2) earmarked for temporary exhibitions - inside which, raised up on 5 m stilts, is the “Black Box” (1,500 m2) destined to house the Bauhaus collection. Roberto González of Addenda said: “the Black Box hanging above visitor’ heads is a constant factor, just like the Bauhaus legacy.”

Bjarke Ingels: the unstoppable Danish architect lays claim to the Norwegian forest. A bridge/art gallery has just opened in Kistefos Sculpture Park, to a design by BIG, now one of the leading studios in the world. The entirely aluminium-clad bridge links the two banks of the rushing torrent that flows across the open-air sculpture park, while providing a solution to the existing height difference with an expressionist twist. Kistefos, the open-air museum, was set up in 1996 by a private collector and contains work by Anish Kapoor and Olafur Eliasson, amongst others, and – artistic curiosity aside – calls for a certain fondness for trekking.

Farewell Luigi Colani: an eternally alternative designer, never taking sides, always hostile to every new trend, Luigi Colani died on 16th September aged 91. One of Germany’s most famous designers, Colani inhabited his own extremely personal design world, producing fluid, streamlined shapes, vehicles in particular, which never failed to outshine even the most inspired science fiction dreams. Among the many models of cars he created, the fantastic 1991 Ferrari Testa Oro stands out. Only one single exemplar was built, which smashed the world speed record at 351 km/h.

The Praemium Imperiale 2019 for architecture goes to Tod Williams and Billie Tsien: this prestigious prize was awarded in recognition of the poetic and minimal work of the New York couple, which spans thirty years. At a time in history marked by the egocentricity of designers, the motivation speaks clearly to their antithetical approach: "The couple and their studio design buildings that blend seamlessly into their surroundings, have strong evidence of the hands from which they're made, and prioritise the experience of the lives lived within them.” This inevitably brings to mind the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Lefrak Centre in Brooklyn. They also designed the Obama Presidential Centre in Chicago, scheduled to open in 2022. Assigned on a yearly basis, the Praemium Imperiale is now in its 31st edition; previous winners include Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Peter Zumthor, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl and David Chipperfield.

"Maestri Piccoli", or “Stories of children who were children like you” or “even the ‘great’ masters were young once” is a four-day only pop-up exhibition, geared to make us smile as we spot Mendini rather than Ponti in short trousers. Curated by Chiara Alessi, Elisa Testori and Paolo Giacomazzi, it features twenty-two familiar situations spanning the two world wars. At the Sala Buzzati, Corriere della Sera Foundation, Milan, 3 Via Balzan.

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