“SPIRITUAL GUARDS” AND JEWEL SCARABS IN FLORENCE: EXHIBITIONS IN THREE HISTORICAL AND ARTISTIC VENUES

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The Forte Belvedere in Florence is getting set to host this year’s edition of its annual fixture with great art.  Following the two international exhibitions showcasing the art of Giuseppe Penone and Antony Gormley, the former Medici fortress’ bastions this year will be hosting the works of Jan Fabre, one of the most innovative and important figures on the contemporary art scene.  A “total” artist, Fabre, who born in Antwerp in 1958, lets his imagination run riot in the very different spheres of sculpture, drawing and installation, performance art, film and the theatre

The exhibition, entitled Jan Fabre. Spiritual Guards, promoted by the Comune di Firenze, will pan out between the Forte Belvedere, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria.  In fact, it will be one of the most complex and multifaceted exhibitions that this Flemish artist and author has ever produced in any public space in Italy.  For the very first time, a living artist will be expounding his art in three venues of outstanding historical and artistic importance at once.  Roughly one hundred of Fabre’s works dating from 1978 to 2016 will be on display, including bronze and wax sculptures, performance films and works made of wing cases of the jewel scarab.  Fabre will also be presenting two new works specifically devised and produced for this occasion.  The premiere is going to be an event of outstanding visual impact with strong symbolic connotations:  on the morning of 15 April, two of Fabre’s bronze sculptures will be – temporarily – joining the open-air museum that is Piazza Signoria.  One of them, an exceptionally large work entitled Searching for Utopia, will interact with the equestrian monument to Grand Duke Cosimo I, a Renaissance masterpiece by Giambologna, while the second, called The man who measures the clouds (American version, 18 years older), will stand proudly on the Arengario outside Palazzo Vecchio between the copies of Michelangelo’s David and Donatello’s Judith.  In both works observers will be able to identify the artist’s own features in his dual capacity as knight and guardian, as a mediator between heaven and earth, between natural and spiritual forces. Against art that placed itself in the service of political and financial power – the art of Piazza della Signoria with its marble giants (the David, Hercules and Neptune) and its biblical, mythological and local figures (Judith, Perseus and the Marzocco Lion of Florence) – Jan Fabre pits an art seeking to depict and to embody the power of the imagination, the mission of the artist as “spiritual guard”.  And he does this in a square designed and used since the Renaissance as a figurative agora` and stage setting, a square which has become an iconic paradigm of the relationship between art and the public space, and in which the symbolic and spectacular function of the modern monument has been configured in exemplary language. Also starting 15 April, Palazzo Vecchio will be hosting a series of sculptures interacting with the frescoes and artefacts housed in some of the rooms open to the public, particularly the Quartiere di Eleonora, the Sala dell’Udienza and the Sala dei Gigli.  The works on display will include a huge globe 2.5 metres in diameter and totally clad in iridescent beetle wing cases, its shape and size interacting to perfection with the celebrated globe in the Sala delle Mappe geografiche, made by Ignazio Danti in the 16th century.

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The following month will see the inauguration of the exhibition at the Forte Belvedere, on 14 May, where the bastions and the villa will be showcasing about sixty works of art in bronze and in wax, along with a series of films focusing on some of the artist’s historic performances.  Curators Melania Rossi and Joanna De Vos, together with the project’s art director Sergio Risaliti, have chosen the Forte Belvedere as the thematic heart of the Jan Fabre. Spiritual Guards exhibition both for its spatial characteristic and for its historical connotations. The fortress once served not only to defend Florence from outside attack but also to protect the Medici family in troubled times, thus it was a stronghold for both external and internal defence suggesting a journey through the life, the ambitions and the woes of the powerful Medici lords and alluding to opposing human perceptions and sensations such as control and abandonment, but also to opposing needs and desires such as armed protection and spiritual elan so deep and so deep-rooted as to influence the form of architecture and the configuration of natural space, especially here at the Forte Belvedere where the need for protection in the awareness that one is still defenceless is particularly easy to grasp.

These ambiguities which form not just history but the entire experience and vitality of mankind, will be represented by two sculptural alignments consisting in seven bronze scarabs placed on the fort’s lookout posts and a series of full-figure self-portraits of the artist – all of them maintain the original silicone bronze colour for that reason they have glow reflecting surrounding countryside like a spiritual halo – which will be populating the corners of the bastions outside the villa, surrounding it.

The scarabs are angels of metamorphosis, guardians who symbolise in ancient religions and in Flemish and Italian vanitas paintings the transition between the earthly dimension and the afterlife with their ceaseless movement.  At the same time, they have a splendid carapace which dramatically highlights the vulnerability of that “regal” body. Thus also Jan Fabre, who defines himself, lives and expresses himself as a knight of despair and a warrior of beauty, who sheds and dons his weapons by deploying his army in its shining, iridescent armour in Florence’s highest point.

This legion is called on here to tell of devotion to life, to defend the fragile and pure beauty that art is capable of generating, against an invisible foe who comes from inside and outside at once, always ready to strike and to wound.

The exhibition will continue on the first floor of the villa, which will be open to the public again for the first time in many years, with wax sculptures and with films of the artist’s performances in a setting of contiguity and continuity both with the works on display outside and with the magnificent Florentine cityscape.

The spectacular bronze integration in Piazza della Signoria and the work produced with jewel scarab wing cases on display in Palazzo Vecchio will be interacting with the urban fabric and with one of the most visited historical palazzi in the city, forming a perfect visual and conceptual complement to the exhibition. The exhibition’s motto and device, Spiritual Guards, should be interpreted as an encouragement to live a heroic life, be it in war or unarmed in defence of the imagination and of beauty.

It is worth recalling here that Jan Fabre, in the course of his long career which began in the 1970s, has a long history of interaction with Florence, where his work has been shown in many collective exhibitions and where he has also brought several of his productions for the theatre.  Two of his bronze busts from the Chapters series, in which he portrays himself with astonishing horns and donkey’s ears, joined the Uffizi collections in 2012, while he received the Michelangelo Award for sculpture in the second edition of the Settimana Michelangiolesca in 2015.

 

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Technical Data and Exhibition Services

 

Exhibition title

Jan Fabre. Spiritual guards

 

Exhibition to run

Piazza Signoria and Museo di Palazzo Vecchio 15 April – 2 October

Forte di Belvedere, 14 May – 2 October

 

Exhibition venue

Piazza Signoria, Florence

Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza Signoria, 1 – Florence

Forte di Belvedere, via di San Leonardo, 1 – Florence

 

Exhibition promoted by

Comune di Firenze

 

Art Director

Sergio Risaliti

 

Exhibition curated by

Joanna De Vos and Melania Rossi

 

Exhibition organised and coordinated by

Associazione MUS.E

 

With the support of the

Guy Pieters Gallery

 

Exhibition layout by

Associazione MUS.E

 

Opening times

 

Piazza Signoria

The square is freely accessible at all times

 

Palazzo Vecchio

From April to September
Daily except Thursday:  9.00 am –11.00 pm
Thursday:  9.00 am – 2.00 pm

From October to March
Daily except Thursday:  9.00 am – 7.00 pm
Thursday:  9.00 am – 2.00 pm

 

Forte di Belvedere

Daily except Monday:  10.00 am – 8.00 pm
Closed Monday

 

Catalogue

(Published in May 2015)

Forma Edizioni Srl

 

Information and website

www.musefirenze.it

 

Communications by

Associazione MUS.E

 

 

 

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FLORENCE: IN THE MEDIEVAL “PHARMACY” OF S.MARIA NOVELLA (XIV CENTURY) A SPECIAL EVENT FOR MY BOOK ON POPE FRANCIS LIFE

 

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI / OFFICINA PROFUMO-FARMACEUTICA S.M.NOVELLA, FLORENCE

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Guest Writer: Press Office Velar-Elledici Editions

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On Friday the 9th of May, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. takes place the book presentation of “Francesco” by Roberto Alborghetti inside the historical rooms of the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence, via della Scala 16. The book talks about the life of Pope Francis. It is the first historical and illustrated biography on the argentine Pope and also the result of unpublished researches and statements useful to know how a “son of emigrants” is became the pastor of the universal Church.

FRANCESCO, copertina ristampaStarting from the information about his original family – retracing the childhood and the adolescence years of the young Jorge Mario – until his religious vocation and cultural education, included the pastoral years in Argentina, the work of Alborghetti accompanied the reader to discover the personality, the responsibility and the mission of the future Pope.

Together with the author during the event participate also the journalist Carmelina Rotundo, the director of Toscana Oggi Mr. Andrea Fagioli, the journalist and writer Riccardo Clementi, the journalist Giuseppe Saponaro, the director of Over the Sky, Mr. Maurizio Martini, and Giuseppe Piani, d.e.i.s.t.a.f.’s researcher of the University of Florence. Moreover the master Giuseppe Tocchetti exposes his opera which is based on the book of Alborghetti.

WHATCH THE CLIP:

http://youtu.be/qrZw-AWYeDM

The enchanting and capturing Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica of Santa Maria Novella is part of Florence history. During the thirteenth century, thanks to a growing economic development, Florence attracted crowds of outcasts in search of work, finding asylum in the city centre; they camped in villages where they were miserable and unhealthy.

They dedicated themselves to support their new mendicant orders. The Franciscans settled east of the city, where they settled in the area of the shops of the dyers and tanners, polluting water and air and where the church of Santa Croce was built, completed during 1800s. The Dominicans settled in the city walls to the north-west: first at the church of San Pancrazio, then in that of Santa Maria delle Vigne, which, in the middle of the fourteenth century, was rebuilt and named the Santa Maria Novella. The Carmelites settled in the south, in a booming area, where workers lived in poor carders and Battilana: Santa Maria del Carmine was consecrated in 1422.

In 2012 Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella celebrated 400 years of uninterrupted business, in the name of tradition and innovation. Raw materials of the highest quality are still used and the apothecary fathers’ artisanal procedures are still followed, yet the company avails itself of modern technology and state of the art equipment Eugenio Alphandery, general manager and co-owner of Officina comments on this:

Given my passion for both antique and modern cars, I could compare this company to a convertible from the 1930’s with hand hammered bodywork crafted by an artisan and a powerful, modern motor, perfect brakes and suspension, all exhalting the car’s beauty and the pleasure of driving it.”

For the occasion major restoration has been undertaken at the historic shop on Via della Scala to restore the ancient pharmacy to its original appearance. This restoration project represents a milestone in Officina’s long history.

Production is now carried out on Liberty style premises on Via Reginaldo Giuliani, in the north of Florence about 3 km from the head office on Via della Scala. All the products are made here with equipment that has been specially designed and custom-built for each specific purpose. Each product has a peculiar story, for example the Cologne and Pot pourri, two of the company’s distinguishing products.

http://www.smnovella.it/

“HATS BETWEEN ART AND EXTRAVAGANCE”: IN FLORENCE THE FIRST MONOGRAPHIC SHOW WITH ITEMS BY FAMED FASHION HOUSES

The Galleria del Costume (Palazzo Pitti, Florence; from December 3, 2013 to  May 18, 2014) opens its doors to an accessory not destined to pass unnoticed. This will be the first monographic show dedicated to hats.  The Museum’s collections of this accessory, attributable to the generosity of many donors, amount to more than one thousand items usually kept in storage.  Only a part of these will be exhibited. Most of items on show are by famed fashion houses including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, John Rocha, and Gianfranco Ferré.  There will also be a substantial number of items by celebrated international milliners of the present and past, such as Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones, Caroline Reboux, Claude Saint-Cyr and Paulette.  Finally, this will also be the first show to exhibit creations by Italian and Florentine milliners, some of them all but unknown.

The hat thus becomes a ‘work’ of art with its aesthetic harmony consisting in its ‘sculptural’ conformation, chromatic component and ornamental elegance. Superintendent for the Polo Museale Fiorentino, Cristina Acidini writes:  «This exhibition turns its attention to the changeable and subjective hat, the hat as a “work of art”, the hat as an “object of design” of the XX century and of the third millennium.» 

Director of the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, Caterina Chiarelli stresses that hats can be studied from the historical-artistic viewpoint or they can be interpreted under the purely aesthetic profile, taking the liberty to formulate judgments or to express oneself using all-inclusive adjectives like “nice”, “imaginative”, “fantastic” and “fun”. The element of play prevails over the educational purpose in this exhibition and this is the message we want to launch and that Katia Sanchioni writes about.

The exhibition presents important loans from Cecilia Matteucci Lavarini, a private collector of haute couture and an illustrious donor of the Galleria del Costume, which are characterised for their value, taste and style.  This is also the opportunity to exhibit the extraordinary sketches MaestroAlberto Lattuada has created especially for the show, as well as to draw attention to the specimens created by Clemente Cartoni, famous Roman milliner in the 1950s and 60s.

The exhibition promoters are:  Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo, Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, Firenze Musei. The show also benefits from the contributions of the Consortium Il Cappello di Firenze (Angiolo Frasconi, bettina®-Raffaello Bettini, Luca della Lama produced and distributed  by Facopel Produzione, Grevi, Corti by Cleò, Marzi Cappelli Firenze, Nanà Firenze by MazzantiPiume, Luigi & Guido Tesi, Soprattutto… Cappelli, Trendintex, Memar, Fratelli Reali & C spa, Santelli Francesca, Inverni Firenze 1892, Michelagnoli Giuseppe & Figli, Ambuchi e Bandinelli).  The show will exhibit some of the most characteristic specimens by the major Tuscan firms of the hat-making sector, heirs of the old artisanal production of the Straw Hat of Florence. The catalogue published by Sillabe contains historical-scientific profiles by Simona Fulceri and texts by Katia Sanchioni, Aurora Fiorentini, Dora Liscia Bemporad, and Nicola Squicciarino.

 

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Technical data

 

Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo

Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, Galleria del Costume – Palazzo Pitti Firenze Musei

Exhibition venue

Galleria del Costume – Palazzo Pitti

Exhibition to run

3rd December  2013 –  18th May 2014

Exhibition directed by

Caterina Chiarelli

curators

Simona Fulceri, Katia Sanchioni

Exhibition secretariat

Silvia Parrini, Susanna Sordi

 

Exhibition produced and managed by

Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

 

Administration

Silvia Sicuranza

Complementary services office

Simona Pasquinucci, Veruska Filipperi, Angela Rossi

Exhibition office

Sabrina Brogelli, Monica Fiorini, Marco Fossi; Salvatore Vicario

 

Exhibition layout

Mauro Linari

Exhibition layout produced by

Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

With the coordination of Leonardo Baldi

Restoration of the hats

Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

With the coordination of Simona Fulceri with Annalisa Alecci, Olga Bocchicchio, Silvia Frasca, Silvia Gozzi, Vitina Telesca

 

Communication curated by

Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

Website

http://www.cappelloinmostra.it

Coordination, communication  and public relations

Mariella Becherini Ph.+39 055. 290383 – m.becherini@operalaboratori.com

Press office

Salvatore La Spina – Ph.+39 055 290383 – Mb. 331 5354957 – ufficiostampa@operalaboratori.com

Barbara Izzo and Arianna Diana – Civita – Ph.+39 06 692050220-258 – Mb. 348 8535647 – izzo@civita.it

diana@civita.it

For Florence and Tuscany

Camilla Speranza – Ph.+39 055 217265 – Mb. 333 5315190 – camilla.speranzaufficiostampa@gmail.com

Image coordination

Laura Salomone – Civita

 

Catalogue

Sillabe

curated by

Simona Fulceri, Katia Sanchioni