With a New Aspen Art Museum Partnership, Bottega Veneta Caps Off an Art-Fueled Year in Style

In 2023, under creative director Matthieu Blazy, the Italian luxury brand engaged with the art world. Here are the highlights.

The Aspen Art Museum. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

With its lattice-like exterior, the Aspen Art Museum seemed destined for a union with Bottega Veneta. The Italian luxury house has long been known for its discreet yet sumptuous leather goods, especially its signature woven “intrecciato” pattern which echoes the institution’s Shigeru Ban-designed façade. Bottega Veneta recently announced an annual partnership with the museum, supporting several events throughout the year.

John Chamberlain, Tonk #3-88 (1988). Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.

John Chamberlain, Tonk #3-88 (1988). Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.

The first exhibition, John Chamberlain’s “The Tighter They’re Wound, The Harder They Unravel” opens today. Curated by the Swiss artist Urs Fischer, the comprehensive survey encompasses three floors and showcases how the influential sculptor translated abstract expressionism into three dimensions with car parts and scrap metal. The museum pairing coincides with Bottega Veneta’s first-ever retail outpost in the luxurious mountainside ski hamlet.

Bottega Veneta’s first-ever Aspen store. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

The Colorado endeavors are the latest in a series of fashion-art overlaps for Bottega Veneta. The brand has deepened its embrace of the arts under the purview of Matthieu Blazy, the creative director since late 2021. Blazy grew up the son of an expert in pre-Columbian arts and a historian and researcher, and those influences can be seen on the runway where he is known for his trompe l’oeil effects (think leathers carefully painted to look like commonplace cotton or denim) and his love of craft (best demonstrated by the densely woven custom textiles that are becoming a brand calling card). Here is a quick overview at the many ways Bottega planted its flag in the art world over the last 12 months.

Set Dressing

An interior view of the Fall 2023 Bottega Veneta set. The 1st Centurt BC runners are in the foreground, Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space can be in the back. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

An interior view of the Fall 2023 Bottega Veneta set. The 1st Century BC runners are in the foreground, Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space can be in the back. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Bottega Veneta started the year off with a fashion show set flexing some serious art world pedigree. For this outing they combined classical and futurist works instead of candy-colored modernism to follow the whimsical Gaetano Pesce extravaganza of 2022. This banger of a show included a jaw-dropping Umberto Boccioni bronze statue featured in the center of the runway. The catwalk presentation was shown on a green carpet flecked with black to evoke Blazy’s favorite gelato flavor, stracciatella. In addition to the 1913 Boccioni titled Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, on loan from the National Gallery of Cosenza, were two runners dating back to the 1st century B.C.E., courtesy of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.


Pesce’s Place

Italian Radical Design pioneer Gaetano Pesce designed his first handbags for the brand. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Italian Radical Design pioneer Gaetano Pesce designed his first handbags for the brand. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

After commissioning the iconic designer and artist Gaetano Pesce to design the swirling, multicolor set and chairs for its spring 2023 show, the brand tapped him once again for their outing at the design fair Salone del Mobile Milano. This time they gave Pesce free rein to create an in-store installation and asked him to create two bags—an assignment that the 84-year-old design world legend took on with his signature curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity. The result was an immersive, site-specific work at Bottega’s Montenapoleone store, titled ‘Vieni a Vedere’ (Come and See). Undulating, alien vistas made from fabric and resin gave way to arresting displays for his first-ever bag designs. The two styles—”My Dear Mountains” and “My Dear Prairies”—were inspired by nature. “This is my first design of a bag and it is figurative—two mountains with a sunrise or a sunset behind,” Pesce said. “I wanted a bag with an optimistic view.”

Eastern Promises

The 2023 selection of limited-edition 'Bottega For Bottegas" items. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

The 2023 selection of limited-edition ‘Bottega For Bottegas” items. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Bottega, loosely translated in English, means workshop. Over the last three years, the brand has endeavored to shine light on craftspeople from around the globe. The annual initiative ‘Bottega for Bottegas‘ employs artisans to make small-run assortments of handmade items. This year, they’ve focused on artisans hailing from Korea, China, and Taiwan Chinese woodworker Liu Wenhui’s elegant sculptures recalling ancient architecture. Kitai Rhee, meanwhile, makes “bangpae yeons,” traditional kites made from Korean paper and bamboo. As an added bonus, Mondiano, a 19th-century Italian bottega, stacked the deck with both playing and tarot cards.

Fair and ‘Square’

Architect Lina Bo Bardi designed her residence, Casa De Vidro, on the outskirts of São Paulo in 1951. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Architect Lina Bo Bardi’s residence, Casa De Vidro, on the outskirts of São Paulo. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary in Brazil, Bottega Veneta held “The Square” exhibition at the sleek, modernist glass box of a home (now a museum) built by Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi. They feted the show with a guided tour that segued into an informative salon as well as a happening and hangout. With the help of Rio de Janeiro-based curator and photographer Mari Stockler, the show emphasized contemporary Brazilian artists, placing them throughout Bo Bardi’s elegant home. The artwork served as an intriguing complement to Bo Bardi’s own collection of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian art. “Casa de Vidro is one of my favorite places,” Blazy told Artnet during the show’s opening. “With ‘The Square São Paulo,’ we recognize how Lina’s ideas and aesthetics resonate to this day, always reminding us of the transformative power of design and culture.”

Take Flight

An image from Air Afrique magazine, which was launched earlier this year. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Air Afrique magazine was launched earlier this year. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Over the summer, the brand released Air Afrique, a magazine made in collaboration with a Parisian creative collective inspired by pan-African magazines of the 20th century, and named after an airline that serviced the continent between 1961 and 2002. It was, in part, inspired by the airline’s own in-flight periodical, Balafon, which highlighted the rich cultural diversity and creative prowess of Africa. The magazine is published in both English and French and makes use of archival materials and new stories. “Air Afrique was more than an airline,” said editor Djiby Kebe. “It was a cultural platform. We want to share the Air Afrique archive and create our own archive—to capture this moment of change in Black awareness and expression.” The brand also released a series of limited-edition blankets made from archival Bottega Veneta materials to toast the project.

Book Smart

The cover of Magma. Courtesy of Magma.

2023 was the year that Bottega charged full-speed into the art publishing game. Besides Air Afrique and its continuing partnership with the queer journal BUTT, which started in 2022, Magma, a limited-edition art periodical debuted this summer. The independent publication featured the works of notable names like Lucas Arruda, Tim Breuer, Sophie Calle, and Agnès Varda, among many others. Only 2,000 copies of the lush, hard-cover tome were released for $65. “Magma is about showing the work, not writing about it,” Paul Olivennes, the publication’s editor-in-chief told Artnet at the time.

“There’s no rubric, no theme,” he continued. “It’s about creating a rhythm—between color and black and white images, between texts, between shorter and longer entries. The sequencing of the magazine should ensure that nobody gets bored.”

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