Art with clothes

Zegna unveils its latest art initiative


The Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna showed off a new work of “ZegnArt” in March, an installation commissioned for MAXXI, Rome’s National Museum of XXI Century Arts. Zegna has created the ZegnArt division to support contemporary art. It will fund residencies for young artists and upcoming exhibitions in India, Turkey and Brazil. The mission is “to explore this range of possibilities within vastly different social and cultural contexts.” 


The first art exhibit, “Fabulae Romanae,” pays tribute to the Eternal City where Zegna just opened a new store on the Via dei Condotti. Artists Lucy and Jorge Orta have created dome-tents and parachutes, video art performances and a set of characters known as “The Spirits.” Curator Maria Luisa Frisa says they’re “messengers of the noises and experiences of the urban daily life.”


The seven tent-like domes – one for each of the seven hills that Rome was founded on – are “wearable sculptures” covered in Zegna fabrics – silk ties and cotton shirts. They are an haute couture play on themes the two artists are known for: nomadic life, seeking refuge, survival.


“For an artist, it’s not important to sell one’s art, but to have the possibility to express oneself,” said an emotional Jorge Orta at the opening. “To find a company that is sensitive, institutions that listen and are collaborative, and above all, to discover the new Medici, in the Zegna family, is the dream of every artist.”


The exhibit is displayed in Rome until September 23, and then will travel around the world. ZegnArt’s first American appearance was a work by American artist Emil Lukas unveiled on May 2 at its Manhattan store. Lukas, known for mixed media paintings, used Zegna’s silken fabrics to create a thread painting.


“Our collaboration with MAXXI is not about business. We’re fascinated by the idea of contributing to the society that surrounds us,” said Gildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna, in an interview with the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. He also underscored its international aspect: “It was correct to start with Rome, and develop a project together with MAXXI, but the next stops will be India, Turkey and Brazil, where we will follow our plans: support the creation of a public artwork and then donate it to a local museum.”


By Brent Gregston