Intellectual isolationFondazione Prada

Exploring the correlation between conditions
of exile, escape and retreat.


Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle
The Black Forest (Triptych), 2015


“These were the places where our protagonists hatched out their deepest thoughts. Isolation, whether chosen or imposed, appears to have inspired them decisively—and over the years their huts have proven to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration in turn for generations of artists, attracted to the fantasy of withdrawal as articulated in its most elemental architectural form.” – The curator, Dieter Roelstraete

Fondazione Prada presents the exhibition Machines à penser, curated by Dieter Roelstraete. It focuses on three major philosophers of the 20th century: Theodor W. Adorno, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Machines à penser explores the correlation between conditions of exile, escape and retreat and physical or mental places which favor reflection, thought and intellectual production.

The latter two shared a life-long need for intellectual isolation: Heidegger spent long periods of his life in a secluded hut in the village of Todtnauberg in the Black Forest in Germany, whilst Wittgenstein retreated on several occasions to a small mountain cabin situated in a fjord in Skjolden, Norway. Adorno, on the other hand, was forced into exile from his native Germany during by the Nazi regime, first to Oxford and then to Los Angeles, where he wrote Minima Moralia, a collection of aphorisms that also reflects on the fate of forced emigration.

The exhibition takes place in Ca’ Corner della Regina, a 18th century palazzo in Venice, creating an immersive journey that deepens our understanding of these three philosophers and the relationship between philosophy, art and architecture.