Bocconi, Knowledge That Matters As a Work of Art

Bocconi, Knowledge That Matters As a Work of Art


'Knowledge that matters.' Bocconi's motto embodies the University's main goal in these twenty letters: to produce and disseminate knowledge that is not an end in itself, but has an impact on society. Today, this everyday goal has been transformed from a reminder into an imposing physical reality, nine and a half meters long and two meters high. Knowledge That Matters was made into a huge work of art by Lorenzo Petrantoni, an artist and graphic designer whose stylistic signature is the decoupage technique. The installation, which will enliven the square between Viale Bligny and Via Röntgen, was inaugurated today with the participation of Mario Monti, Bocconi President, Gianmario Verona, Bocconi Rector, and Riccardo Taranto, Bocconi Managing Director. Knowledge That Matters is now an integral part of the contemporary works of art in the Bocconi Art Gallery.

For his enormous composition, Petrantoni collaborated with a team of Bocconi professors, archivists and communicators for one month, in a project conceived and coordinated by Grey Italia. They selected the elements to create a visual version of the University’s vast range of knowledge (which runs from economics and the social sciences to data science). 20,000 9x13cm images were produced, which he then used to cover the installation.
The digital images used to create the work come from the best knowledge produced by Bocconi: the academic papers of the 100 most cited Bocconi professors; the books and research work of the 21 Rectors and other key figures who have led the institution since its inception; historical documents on the foundation of the University; and 100 student theses.  These last include the thesis written by Adelina Gallo, the first woman to graduate from Bocconi, with her study on the immigration of female workers to Milan between 1884 and 1910. Petrantoni also used the images of the University's founder, Ferdinando Bocconi, and his son Luigi, after whom he named the University.

"Lorenzo Petrantoni's work is a like a huge snapshot, freezing the words and images that represent our academic and educational commitment: to focus on looking outwards, to look at the world and never close up on ourselves,” explains the Rector of Bocconi, Gianmario Verona. "This is why we have chosen to have our story told by an artist with a strong international background, who knows how to give knowledge's prime elements – words and numbers – such an important weight."

"This is the first time I've used this type of material for a project of this magnitude," adds Lorenzo Petrantoni. "I wanted to represent and condense the harmony of the numbers and graphics that tell stories as well as describe the economy, in their perfect aesthetic form. I usually prefer to use 19th-century publications for my works, but in this case, I worked with research output that spans an entire century."

Born in Genoa in 1970, Lorenzo Petrantoni studied graphics in Milan, then moved to France, where he worked as an art director for a few years. After returning to Italy, he continued to work with leading communication agencies, before leaving the world of advertising and dedicating himself completely to his career as an illustrator. His illustrations are created from his passion for graphics and the appeal that the 1800s has for him, made with images taken from old manuals and dictionaries of the time. With his art, he has created campaigns for prestigious brands, collaborated with international magazines and exhibited in numerous art shows around the world.

by Andrea Celauro
Translated by Jenna Walker


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