The Groninger Museum building turns 25 this year. In honour of its chief architect, Alessandro Mendini, the museum will mount a major exhibition the famous Italian designer put together shortly before he passed away. Mondo Mendini – The World of Alessandro Mendini features not only Mendini’s own work but also that of artists with whom he felt a kinship. Encompassing visual arts as well as architecture and design, the show boasts a richly varied selection of more than 200 objects. Mondo Mendini exudes the exceptional creativity and humour of the designer who gave Groningen an internationally celebrated landmark.
 
 
 
PRESS RELEASE
21 May 2019
Groninger Museum to host exhibition curated by Alessandro Mendini
The Groninger Museum building turns 25 this year. In honour of its chief architect, Alessandro Mendini, the museum will mount a major exhibition the famous Italian designer put together and designed shortly before he passed away. Mondo Mendini – The World of Alessandro Mendini features not only Mendini’s own work but also that of artists with whom he felt a kinship. Encompassing visual arts as well as architecture and design, the show boasts a richly varied selection of more than 200 objects. Mondo Mendini exudes the exceptional creativity and humour of the designer who gave Groningen an internationally celebrated landmark.
 
Alessandro Mendini, photo credits: Carlo Lavatori – Alessandro Mendini Archive
Alessandro Mendini, Poltrona di Proust, 1978, collection Groninger Museum. Photo credits: Marten de Leeuw
 
The exhibition
More than two years ago, the museum gave Alessandro Mendini (1931–2019) free rein to compile an exhibition of his work. He was enthusiastic about putting together a major exhibition for ‘his’ museum. In Mondo Mendini, Mendini showcases among others his most famous works, including a three-metre-high version of Poltrona di Proust, the kitschy armchair covered with coloured dots (collection Fondation Cartier). Also present is Anna G, the dancer-shaped corkscrew that became a bestseller for Alessi. The exhibition contains a wide selection of works from Mendini’s diverse oeuvre, from jewellery to architectural models, household objects to large sculptures. Rejecting hierarchical divisions between architecture, autonomous art and design – between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art – he became one of postmodernism’s most distinctive designers. His designs are often colourful, decorative and surprising in form: imagination takes precedence over functionality. About the rich expressiveness of his oeuvre, Mendini said: "My work is like a novel in which seriousness, pain, comedy and poetry exist side by side. And my objects are the tragicomic characters."

Entirely in keeping with his artistic ideas, Mendini chose to showcase not just his own work in the exhibition but also that of great artists and designers of the past and present who inspired him. He always generously acknowledged the influence of others. For Mondo Mendini, he selected, among many more, works by classic modern artists Paul Signac, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse and Oskar Schlemmer, architectural designs by Theo van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld, objects by Italian designers like Gio Ponti, Michele De Lucchi and Gaetano Pesce, and recent paintings by the American artist Peter Halley.
Mondo Mendini will be on show from 12 October 2019 through 5 May 2020 at the Groninger Museum.
Alessandro Mendini
After earning a degree in architecture in 1959, Alessandro Mendini went to work for the Milan design and architecture office Nizzoli Associati. Following a decade of practical experience, he decided to immerse himself in the theoretical side of architecture and design, influenced in part by the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s. From 1970 to 1976, he served as editor in chief of the magazine Casabella, which became a mouthpiece for a new generation of socially critical, avant-garde Italian architects and designers. He later edited the architecture and design magazines Modo (1977–1981) and Domus (1980–1985 and 2010–2011).

Mendini began doing more and more design work. He became extremely influential thanks to his groundbreaking projects with the Alchimia design group, including 1981’s Il mobile infinito (Infinite Furniture), in which designers and visual artists collaborated on experimental furnishings with changeable decorations. Since 1980s, he acted as an advisor for the Alessi company, initiating high-profile collaborative projects that blurred the boundary between architecture and design. He also created designs for the watchmaker Swatch, the electronics company Philips, and numerous design firms. With his younger brother Francesco, he designed colourful buildings in Europe and Asia, of which the Groninger Museum is the most famous. He continued to expand his staggeringly varied oeuvre of imaginative, contrary, humorous and poetic objects until late in life.
 
Alessandro Mendini, Anna G., 1994, corkscrew for Alessi. Photo credits: Alessi – Alessandro Mendini Archive
Alessandro Mendini, Mobili per uomo: Borsa, 1997, collection Fondazione Bisazza, Vicenza.
Photo credits: Ottavio Tomassini –Fondazione Bisazza Archive

Alessandro Mendini, Abissina, 2018, produced by Alessio Sarri, Sesto Fiorentino.
Photo: Marta Sansoni

 
Anniversary year
Its building’s 25th anniversary takes centre stage in the Groninger Museum’s programme this year. Along with Mondo Mendini – The World of Alessandro Mendini, the exhibitions Pronkjewails – Design from Past and Present and From Swip Stolk to Rudo Menge – 25 Years of Posters for the Groninger Museum also honour this special occasion. October, the museum’s birthday month, will boast plenty of festivities, including a party weekend with free admission and an extensive schedule of activities on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October.

For more information, see groningermuseum.nl/en.
Groninger Museum, photo credits Erik and Petra Hesmerg 2014

Practical information Mondo Mendini - The World of Alessandro Mendini at Groninger Museum

Location
:
Museumeiland 1, 9711 ME Groningen

Dates:
12 October 2019 - 5 May 2020

Opening hours:
Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 - 17:00h

More information:

Feel free to share this press release with others. High-res images and more information on:

For more information and images, please contact the Groninger Museum’s Communication, PR & Marketing department:
Sarah Fopma | sfopma@groningermuseum.nl | +31 (0)50 3666 510
Karina Smrkovsky | ksmrkovsky@groningermuseum.nl | +31 (0)50 3666 512

About Groninger Museum

The colourful, eccentric Groninger Museum is one of the Netherlands’ most popular museums, drawing more than 200,000 visitors a year. As well as postmodern design, contemporary art, fashion and photography, the collection encompasses a wide range of historical objects that tell the story of the city and province of Groningen. The museum also holds an extensive collection of Asian porcelain, and of course paintings by the Groningen artists’ collective De Ploeg.

The design of the Groninger Museum building, completed in 1994, is still much talked about. Chief architect Alessandro Mendini, with his brother Francesco, invited three guest architects to design the pavilions: the Italian designer Michele De Lucchi, Philippe Starck of Paris, and Coop Himmelb(l)au of Vienna. Mendini also worked with Dutch architects and designers, including the Groningen architectural office Team 4, Albert Geertjes, and Geert Koster.

 
 
 
 
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