the façade of ca’ corner della regina is of istrian stone, with rustication over the ground floor and mezzanine. it displays an architecture stylistically reminiscent of baldassare longhena’s nearby ca’ pesaro, the current venue of the galleria internazionale d’arte moderna. photo courtesy of prada

art and fashion have developed a symbiotic relationship in recent years. italian fashion house prada opened a new venture on thursday june 2, 2011 to the public: a semi-permanent display of works from their art collection, housed in a well restored and imposing 18th-century palazzo located right on the grand canal in venice. over the past two decades, miuccia prada and her husband, the company’s chief executive patrizio bertelli, have simultaneously built a world-class contemporary art collection.

the ca’ corner once housed the archive of the venice biennale, but has lain empty over years, until the venetian authorities offered it to the fondazione prada.  the prada foundation has leased the space, a venezia-owned property (fondazione musei civici) for six years, with the option to remain for another six.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘void field’ by anish kapoor, 1989 sandstone, pigment 20 elements, variable dimensions image © designboom

if you among the lucky few who easily can afford a water taxi, you may want to enter the ca’ corner della regina building from the water. then you come straight to the work that occupies the  doric-columned hall, anish kapoor’s ‘void field’: a series of sandstone blocks with a black hole penetrating its surface. the bulky sculptures give the impression that they are at the same time hollow and weightless. it was part of kapoor’s installation for the british pavilion at the venice art biennale in 1990.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice birgit lohmann (designboom) in front of damien hirst’s ‘loving in a world of desire’, 1996 MDF, steel, air blower, beach ball – 60 x 198.5 x 198.5 cm image © designboom

on the same floor level is damien hirst’s ‘loving in a world of desire’ (1996), in which a beach ball is lifted by an air blower and maurizio cattelan’s ‘untitled’ (1997), a stuffed ostrich with its head buried in the sand.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘untitled’, by maurizio cattelan, 1997 taxidermized male ostrich, wood base 75 x 85 x 33 cm image © designboom

… and from the courtyard you enter another space where ‘cell (clothes)’ by louise bourgeois is exhibited.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘cell (clothes)’ by louise bourgeois, 1996 wood, glass, fabric, rubber , 211 x 442 x 266 cm image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘concetto spaziale. la fine di dio’ (spatial concept. the end of god) by lucio fontana, 1963 oil, cuts, holes and glitter on canvas 178 x 123 cm image © designboom

the italian portion of the collection from the 1950s and 60s offers a chance for some real discoveries  — especially the works by alberto burri, enrico castellani, walter de maria and lucio fontana.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice first – nobile – floor of ca’ corner della regina, decorated with frescos, stucco and stonework ca’ corner della regina, dating back to the 1720s ca’ corner della regina is considered the first architectural example to introduce non-baroque parameters as dominant themes, even if some elements of the prior style remain. built between 1724 and 1728 by domenico rossi for the corner family of san cassiano atop the ruins of the palazzo in which caterina corner — future queen of cyprus — was born. the last descendant of the corner family bequeathed the palazzo to pope pius VII. until 1969, it was home to the padri cavanis and the monte di pietà, and from 1975 to 2010 it housed the ASAC, the archivio storico delle arti contemporanee. the building is modulated over three storeys and features two mezzanines between the ground floor and first floor.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘confluenze’ (confluences) by pino pascali, 1967 and first floor before installment of artwork aluminum, aniline-dyed water – 7 x 112 x 112 cm, 22 elements each images © designboom and courtesy prada

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice reflections in ‘confluenze’ (confluences) by pino pascali image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘waiting for inspiration, blue’ and ‘waiting for inspiration, red’ by damien hirst, 1994 glass, steel, oil on canvas, tables – 210 x 210 x 210 cm image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice miuccia prada talks with franca sozzani next to jeff koons’ ‘fait d’hiver’, 1988 porcelain 49.5 x 80 x 160 cm image © designboom

two different eras of artistic excess : the jeff koons’ curated room puts his porcelain sculpture ‘faut d’hiver’ (1988) replete with a pig, penguins and a nude fishnet-dressed woman, across from a table full of unpublished 18th-century porcelain figurines form the collection of the state hermitage museum in st. petersburg.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘ars longa vita brevis’ meissen porcelain manufactory 18th century porcelain, overglaze painting, gilding 68 elements, variable dimensions collection of the state hermitage museum, st. petersburg image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘tulips’ by jeff koons, 1997-2005 high-chromium stainless steel with transparent colour coating 203 x 457 x 521 cm each element image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘the double club’ by carsten höller, 2008-09 mixed media variable dimensions image © designboom

the encounter of western and congolese cultures led to the construction, in london, of ‘the double club’ by carsten höller (2008), it is represented here by unveiling a volume fully documenting this project.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘nobody’ by tom friedman, 2002 construction paper 167.5 x 66 x 25.5 cm images © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘turquoise enamel’ by donald judd, 1967 enameled aluminum 8 elements, 122 x 305 x 20 cm each image © designboom

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice ‘untitled’ by bruce nauman, 1965 fiberglass, polyester resin 61x335x13cm image © designboom

the opening, a few days ahead of the venice biennale, has been THE social event, with artists, curators, dealers, critics, collectors models, musicians, actors and other VIPs invited.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice from left to right : patrizio bertelli, jeff koons, justine koons, miuccia prada, rem koolhaas; maurizio cattelan and germano celant; courtney love; thomas demand photos courtesy of prada

the exhibition, curated by germano celant, is composed of sections linked to the present and future activities of the foundation: the collection of artworks, the architectural and restorative work conducted on the eighteenth-century venetian palazzo and the special projects realized in collaboration with international museums. the various projects, which have been carried out together with architects, artists and curators, have created an artistic and scientific dialogue with the architectural features of the palazzo and established an innovative exhibition space.

fondazione prada: ca' corner della regina in venice water taxis approaching the venue image © designboom

the exhibition will be on display through october 2, 2011.

there is also a wing dedicated to the future headquarters of the fondazione prada, a permanent site at largo isarco in milan, designed by rem koolhaas and OMA. on display are a series of scale-models of the future exhibition complex, which will open in 2013. see designboom’s coverage of the exhibition here. location: CA’ CORNER DELLA REGINA calle de ca’ corner / santa croce 2215 / 30135 venice san stae, line 1, direction lido