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Wes Anderson’s Cabinet of Curiosities Comes to Life at Fondazione Prada

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Now on view at Milan’s Fondazione Prada is an exhibition conceived by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf, entitled “Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori,” (“Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures”). The show, presented with the support of Kvadrat, dives into an exploration of the reasoning behind creating a collection and the ways in which it is housed and experienced, featuring a selection of 538 objects and artworks.

Finding inspiration from the model of the wunderkammer—or “cabinet of curiosities”—film director Anderson along with illustrator, wrier, and designer Malouf selected the works on view from 12 collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and 11 departments in Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum, spanning a timeline from 3,000 BC to 2018. Using the exhibited artifacts, the pair not only forges unexpected parallels between their own creative worlds, but also suggest new relationships between institutions and their collections, and professional figures and the public by challenging traditional museum canons.

Exhibition view of “Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori”
A project by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf
Photo by Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

Previously presented in Vienna at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the exhibition’s second iteration expands on its original format, spreading across the foundation’s ground floor and Podium in a layout reminiscent of an Italian garden. Visitors experience Anderson and Malouf’s own iteration of the Wunderkammer through a number of items like portraits, timepieces, wooden boxes, and green objects, including Coffin of a Spitzmaus (an Egyptian wooden box from the 4th century BC); Phoenix, an ivory sculpture dating between 1610-1620; and the 16th century painting Portrait of Margrave Casimir of Brandenburg-Kulmbach; through a series of rooms and vitrines referencing Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, Austria (a palace designed in 1570 by Giovanni Battista Guarienti).

The exhibition, open to the public through January 13, 2020,  is accompanied by an artist’s book published by Fondazione Prada, which takes the form of a box full of drawings, reproductions, and other materials. The publication brings life to the idea of a personal collection and portable museum, and features an introduction by Anderson, along with a conversation between the foundation’s Mario Mainetti and Jasper Sharp of Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Exhibition view of “Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori”
A project by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf
Photo by Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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