La Fondazione Prada is preserving paper creations from Thomas Demand.
In the fermament of art stars of my generation, there's a crew of photographers who produce large-scale images that require astounding production undertakings. Among them are Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall, and Gregory Crewdson, all of whom go to great lengths to create immersive, emotion-driving images. Thomas Demand falls into that category and he goes to some of the stranger lengths to produce his giant images.
What's his deal? Well, Demand finds an existing photograph or image, frequently something mundane that is taken from a newspaper or magazine. Then he meticulously creates a new life-sized, hyper-realistic three-dimensional version of said image, constructing it out of nothing more than paper and cardboard. He photographs this elaborate fraud and then destroys it, leaving only his large-scale images.
Those images are often spectacular and belie the methodology employed to make them. In fact it's almost impossible to even understand the process by just looking at the images. That's why Processo Grottesco, a permanent installation at La Fondazione Prada is so cool. This installation is currently the only place on earth where you can see not only one of Thomas Demand's images, but also the cardboard and paper set that was constructed to make that image possible.
The installation chronicles the work required to create Grotto, a photograph based on a postcard of a grotto located on the island of Majorca. At Fondazione Prada, the nature of this image is heightened as viewers are required to descend a long, narrow, dimly-lit staircase to enter the exhibit; it almost mimics the act of venturing into a real grotto.
Once inside, the first thing you see is Demand's final image, displayed elegantly on a dark gray wall. Continue farther into the installation and you are given access to many of the documents, preparatory materials, and prototypes that went into the construction of the set. Round the corner and you enter a place that made the little kid in me gasp and the art fan in me stare in wonder. It's a strange secret place where a kid could devise all kinds of exciting stories and adventures. It's also a strange secret place where an art fan feels like he's been given access to the mind of an artist. For that, I offer a profound "thank you" to the caretakers at La Fondazione Prada.
Creative director and art nerd contemplating travel, books, theater, and art.