22 July 2008: the “date of birth” of the Pirelli Foundation. Almost 10 years have gone by since our Foundation was incorporated. It was set up to preserve, promote, and make known the long history of the Pirelli Group. Since it first opened to the public in April 2010, the Pirelli Foundation has launched many projects, some of them in collaboration with other cultural institutions and organisations, such as the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and the Teatro Franco Parenti, the MITO SettembreMusica Festival, the Museo Interattivo del Cinema (MIC) and Fondazione Isec, to mention but a few.
Many of the activities of our Foundation start by analysing and processing the content of the company’s Historical Archive, which was already under the protection of the Sovrintendenza Archivistica per la Lombardia in 1972. It contains more than 3.5 km of documents and many works of art, including the preparatory cartoon by the famous painter Renato Guttuso for his mosaic Scientific Research, which was made by the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Ravenna, the stunning photograph by Luca Comerio of 1905, and thousands of advertising sketches, drawings and photographs. The Foundation preserves many objects that illustrate the close links between Pirelli, art, and design, such as Meo Romeo the cat and Zizì the monkey (winner of the first Compasso d’Oro in 1954), the foam rubber toys invented by the designer Bruno Munari, as well as Canestro, the innovative container designed by the architect Roberto Menghi, which is also on show at MoMA in New York. The same museum also has an advertising poster for Pirelli bicycle tyres by the artist Massimo Vignelli.
The Pirelli Scientific and Technical Library was added to the assets of the Foundation in 2010, with more than 16,000 volumes on the technology of rubber and cables from the nineteenth century to the present day. The holding includes foreign technical journals, of which Pirelli has the only copies in Italy, such as the British India Rubber Journal (1888) and the American India Rubber World. A campaign to recover, recondition and restore materials in our archive started in 2010: about 2000 documents on paper (including sketches, drawings, and printed advertisements), 90 transparencies, and the entire archive of films. We have also catalogued more than 15,000 documents and about 22,000 articles from Italian and international house organs, such as Pirelli magazine. With a view to making known this massive collection, in 2013 the catalogue of the Pirelli technical-scientific Library was included in the Sistema Bibliotecario Nazionale, and in 2014 an initial selection of documents, photographs, advertisements, and audio-visual materials was published on fondazionepirelli.org in the area devoted to the Historical Archive, and it is constantly being updated.
We have also prepared and curated many exhibitions that tell the story of the Pirelli style, starting with Un viaggio, ma… (2008), put on at La Triennale di Milano. In the spaces of the Foundation, in 2010, we presented About a Tyre, a photographic journey in collaboration with the New Academy of Fine Arts (NABA) in Milan. In 2011 we were back at La Triennale with Rubber Soul: Aesthetics & Technique in Step with Fashion, on Pirelli’s innovation in the world of fashion, which won the prestigious Red Dot Grand Prix in 2013. It Goes Like a Dream was another show in 2011, illustrating the history of Pirelli in motor sports. And then came the exhibitions Pirelli’s Industrial Humanism (2012), Pirelli and Italy on the Move 2013), Pirelli: A Winter’s Tale (2014) and Lunch Break: A Hundred Years of Italy at Table, at Home and at Work (2015), which illustrated the various aspects of Pirelli in history and in the present day. And, more recently: The Architectures of Industry (2015); Pirelli: Sustainable Culture (2015), a thematic journey through the evolution of the company’s sustainable management from 1872 to the present day, with a focus on research and innovation, and, lastly, Pirelli in 100 Pictures: Beauty, Innovation, Manufacturing, which opened in January 2017 in the Archimede civic library in Settimo Torinese.
In 2013 we launched the Fondazione Pirelli Educational project, a free programme for schools designed to introduce young people to Pirelli’s corporate culture. It puts on special courses that are renewed and expanded every year, ranging from the history and technology of tyres to corporate cinema, through to sustainability and robotics, photography, and the evolution of advertising graphics. About 14,000 students have taken part in our educational activities since 2013.
Over the past ten years we have also curated a number of publishing projects: Pirelli in 35 mm, two DVDs made between 2011 and 2012 to promote the company’s film assets; Voci del lavoro (2012, Editori Laterza), which tells the story of the transformation of the Pirelli industrial plant in Settimo Torinese and the creation of the new Industrial Centre, drawing on numerous oral sources. This led, also in 2012, to a play entitled La fabbrica e il lavoro, which was staged at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. Between 2015 and 2017, the Pirelli Foundation, together with Corraini Edizioni, published two volumes devoted to the history of advertising and images produced by the Group in its over-140-year history: A Muse in the Wheels. Pirelli: A Century of Art at the Service of its Products (2015) examined the period from 1872 to 1970, while Advertising with a Capital P, which came out in July 2017, looked at Pirelli advertising from the 1970s to the present day. Our latest publishing project is Il Canto della Fabbrica [The Song of the Factory] (Mondadori), a book + DVD which relates the experience of the concert in September 2017 in the Settimo Torinese factory: from the origins of the piece of music commissioned by the Foundation from the violinist Francesco Fiore through to its performance by the Orchestra da Camera Italiana, conducted by Maestro Salvatore Accardo.
At 7 o’clock this evening in the Pirelli Headquarters in Milano Bicocca, we shall be speaking about it with Marco Tronchetti Provera, President of the Pirelli Foundation, the Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, the Consulting Editor of Libri Mondadori Gian Arturo Ferrari, the President of the International MITO SettembreMusica Festival Anna Gastel, and the Director of the Pirelli Foundation, Antonio Calabrò. At the end of the presentation, the Orchestra da Camera Italiana, conducted by Salvatore Accardo, will perform “Il Canto della Fabbrica” for the guests at the event: a book, a concert, and a party to celebrate together “our first ten years”.