UFFIZI GALLERY: A GREAT EXHIBITION ON ARTISTIC EXCHANGES BETWEEN FLORENCE AND THE ISLAMIC WORLD

This sumptuous exhibition of Islamic art (Florence, until September 23, 2018) is curated by Giovanni Curatola and organised by the Uffizi in partnership with the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the exhibition’s other venue. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to discover the knowledge, exchange, dialogue and mutual influence that existed between the arts of East and West. It is the result of an international scholarly advisory board which has been working with dedication for two years to select the exhibits and to prepare the catalogue with essays rich in scientific and historical research, designed to illustrate the extremely important role that Florence played in interfaith and intercultural exchange between the 15th and the early 20th centuries, not to mention Florence’s age-old interest in the Islamic world, which is apparent as early as in the diaries of Florentine merchants like Simone Sigoli, Leonardo Frescobaldi and Giorgio Gucci who travelled to the Holy Land in 1384 and also visited Cairo and Damascus, remarking in amazement on the sheer quantity and outstanding beauty of the items they saw.

The leading role in this joint venture by the Uffizi and the Bargello is played by Islamic art with its superb carpets, its damascened acquamaniles and vases (using a particular a metalworking technique to achieve polychrome decoration), its enamelled glass, its rock crystal, its ivory and its lustreware.

Florence is home to an extremely important collection of Islamic art comprising almost 3,300 pieces, all of them items of exceptional importance, donated by Lyon-born merchant Louis Carrand in 1889 to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, already at that time one of Europe’s leading museums. Its Islamic Room was finally arranged in 1982 by engineering a dialogue between the best of Islamic art and the work of Donatello and other masters of Renaissance statuary.

The exhibition is to be held in two venues. The section in the Bargello explores a crucial moment in the history of research, collecting and museography at the turn of the 19th century, whereas the Uffizi explore the interaction between East and West in art and the appeal of Islamic art as revealed, for example, by the Arabic script used in the haloes of the figures of the Virgin and St. Joseph in Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi, by Cristofano dell’Altissimo’s series of portraits commissioned by Paolo Giovio, by superb examples of the Islamic metalwork that was already so popular in Lorenzo the Magnificent’s day and by ceramics from the East or from Moorish Spain decorated with the coats-of-arms of Florentine aristocratic families. Or indeed by the textiles and large carpets from Mamluk Egypt woven at the turn of the 15th century that were rapidly snapped up by the Medici Grand Dukes, by the glass and metalware that had such a profound influence on coeval Italian production, and last but by no means least, by the splendid manuscripts, illuminated and otherwise – including the pages of the oldest manuscript of Persian King Firdūsī’s Shahnameh or Book of Kings, dated 1217, from the collection of the Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze – and the Eastern writings, rare both in date and in provenance, from the collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.

All in all, a varied, mesmerising and spectacular journey exploring centuries of cultural exchange and cross-contamination, enriched with loans from leading museums both in Italy and abroad.

Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th century has been organised by the Uffizi and the Bargello with important international loans and loans from other Florentine institutions (Museo Stibbert, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Museo Bardini and the Medici Villa of Cerreto Guidi which houses part of the Bardini bequest) which are, in their turn, staging multi-faceted displays of Islamic art on their own premises. These institutions are described in a brochure also published in digital format, which can be downloaded from the attachment below.

Also, for the duration of the exhibition, the two Florentine museums will be offering visitors the chance to purchase a combined ticket for € 29.00, (concessions €14.50) valid for three days, admitting the holder to the Uffizi, the Bargello, the Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th century exhibition and the Museo Archeologico di Firenze.

The “Islamic Art and Florence from the Medici to the 20th century” exhibition will be running simultaneously and in collaboration with an exhibition entitled “The Montefeltro and the Islamic East” in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.

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UFFIZI GALLERY (FLORENCE): A NEW GREAT ROOM DEVOTED TO THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI

 

Sala 35 - Nuova sala di Leonardo 1

After the unveiling of a new arrangement of masterpieces by Caravaggio and other XVII Century artists and the new room dedicated to Michelangelo and Raffaello, Uffizi Gallery continues its renewal with a room devoted to Leonardo da Vinci.

 

The new Leonardo Room at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery (Room 35 in the West Wing), officially opened yesterday, displays three paintings by Leonardo, all of which were made originally for churches, hence why the room’s walls are painted pale gray using a spatula effect. To ensure optimal conditions, the paintings are contained in special glass display cases that reduce light refraction without detracting from the visitor experience.

 

On the left stands The Baptism of Christ, painted for the San Salvi Church in 1475-78, when Leonardo was still working with Andrea del Verrocchio. The painting highlights the divisions in tasks within the workshop in terms of style and technique between the master and his pupil.

 

The Annunciation can be seen on the facing wall. Hailing from the church of Monteoliveto, the angel casts its shadow over the flowering meadow, closing its wings upon landing like a bird.

 

In the centre of the room visitors can wonder at the Adoration of the Magi, commissioned for the church of San Donato a Scopeto, and which was left unfinished when Leonardo went to Milan in 1482 to work for Ludovico Sforza. The painting underwent a five-year restoration at Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure, financed by the Friends of the Uffizi. The altarpiece offers insight into Da Vinci’s creative process with some parts more advanced, while other brush strokes point to an infancy in style and technique.

 

Eike Schmdt, director of the Uffizi Galleries,  explained the draw of the Leonardo Room. “The new arrangement has been designed not only to permit a slow, meditated visit, whereby visitors can compare the art and understand the stylistic evolution of Leonardo in his youth, but it is also correct in terms of art history, placing the artist’s works immediately after the rooms dedicated to the Florentine Quattrocento…It is part of a set of changes implemented to adjust the Uffizi to the needs of understanding by visitors as well as adhering to the museum’s educational principles.”

FLORENCE: IN BOBOLI GARDEN AN EXHIBITION ON THE AGE-OLD BOND BETWEEN MEN AND HORSES

 

The Limonaia in Boboli Garden is hosting an exhibition on the Age-Old Bond between men and horses The horse was one of the last beasts to be tamed by man.

It was only in the latter part of the fourth millennium BC, somewhere on the central Asian tundra, that the horse ceased to a mere prey and its fate began to interweave ever more closely with that of man.

Curated by Lorenza Camin and Fabrizio Paolucci and hosted in the 18th century Limonaia in the Boboli Garden in Florence from 26 June to 14 October, the exhibition sets out to explore this age-old bond through a selection of items, often overlooked in exhibitions to the benefit of more eye-catching works, illustrating the myriad facets of a relationship that impacted every aspect of daily life.

“The place where the taming of the horse first occurred and was further developed is still one of the most hotly debated issues in scholarly literature today. But it would seem illogical to imagine that the horse began its age-old history of coexistence with man anywhere other than in eastern European and the Eurasian tundra”, Camin and Paolucci write in the catalogue published by Sillabe.

Tools required to master the beast (bits, snaffle bits, spurs, stirrups and so forth) are showcased alongside works of art selected to illustrate, as directly and as realistically as possible, the leading role played by the horse in the ancient world. The circa 100 items on display, from dozens of Italian and foreign museums, cover a period of over 2,000 years stretching from the Early Iron Age to the later Middle Ages.

The numerous items on public display for the very first time include the Populonia Gig. This extremely rare example of an Etruscan carriage, discovered in the so-called “Fossa della Biga” (or “Two-Horse Chariot Ditch”) in the mid-20th century, has been reassembled following recent restoration commisssioned expressly for this exhibition. The gig, in wood, iron and bronze and dateable to the early 5th century BC, was a slow vehicle used to carry personalities of rank and for wedding processions and funeral corteges.

As Eike Schmidt, Director of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, so effectively puts it:  “The whole concept of this exhibition appears to be encapsulated in one of the exhibits on display, a splendid pair of 4th century BC bronze and ivory chanfrons designed to protect the horse’s forehead, nose and muzzle: the silhouette of the metal sheeting, shaped and embossed follows the outline of the horse’s elongated anatomy, but on the inside, far from displaying the anatomy of a horse, it depicts the features of a human face sporting a helmet on its head. The horse and its rider become a single, fused being. From the Old Stone Age to the end of the 16th century, the exhibition explores this relationship which has marked the history of mankind from the outset and which is still so surprisingly relevant to our own time”.

“Riding Through Time”, a multivision product devised and directed by Gianmarco D’Agostino, completes the exhibition with some 300 square metres of screenings. The visual correspondence between the exhibits on display and images from life paired with an immersive soundtrack will unquestionably enrich the visitor’s exploration of the friendship between man and horse down the centuries.

The exhibition catalogue is published by Sillabe.

FLORENCE: NEW HALL AT THE UFFIZI WITH PIECES THAT ARE “BOMBS IN THE HISTORY OF ART”

Sala Raffaello Michelangelo (2)Sala Raffaello Michelangelo (3)Sala Raffaello Michelangelo (4)

Sala Raffaello Michelangelo (5)

The Uffizi’s Director, Eike Schmidt

Sala Raffaello Michelangelo (6)

There’s a new  “room” at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, one with a striking visual design to focus the eye on Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni. Also given pride of place is Raphael’s Madonna del Cardellino and other pieces by Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo. Eleven pieces in total have been called ‘bombs in the history of art’ by the Uffizi’s Director, Eike Schmidt.

The works of Michelangelo and Raphael are exhibited together in the same hall, in the large hall number 41 of the west corridor, which until October 2016 hosted the paintings by Sandro Botticelli, re-upholstered in new spaces. So, a new exhibition was born to make the diversity of artistic voices and exchanges between Raphael and Michelangelo, who  were contemporaneously in Florence from 1504 to 1508.

Together with the adjacent Sala di Leonardo, which will open in a few weeks, the new room that unites the masterpieces of Raphael and Michelangelo celebrates the truly unique period in the history of mankind, when in the city, in a few years, the most great artists of the world created the iconic works that today are part of the universal idea of the Renaissance in Italy.

FLORENCE: LEONARDO DA VINCI’S ADORATION OF THE MAGI HAS RETURNED TO UFFIZI GALLERY AFTER RESTORATION

Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi has recovered much of its original colouring after a painstaking restoration. The artwork has returned to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery after being taken to the Opificio Delle Pietre Dure institute for restoration in 2011 due to serious deterioration of the surface.
The painting will be the star of a special show opening on Tuesday after the restoration conducted with the help of the financial support of the Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) association.

The panel was commissioned from the Augustinian Friars for the church of San Donato in Scopeto in 1481. The artist left it unfinished after moving to Milan in 1482, prompting the friars to ask Filippino Lippi to produce another altarpiece on the same subject. That work was completed in 1496. Leonardo’s painting, the biggest survivor panel of the master at 246 x 243 cm, was housed at the Benci family’s properties in Florence for some time before entering the Medici collections.

A GREAT EXHIBITION IN PALAZZO PITTI: 100 VERY RARE PICTURES TELL THE STORY OF FASHION IN FLORENCE THROUGH THE LENS OF FOTO LOCCHI

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One of Florence’s leading photography archives opens its treasures to the city with this first single-subject exhibition. On 9 January 2017, Fashion in Florence through the lens of Archivio Foto Locchi opened in Palazzo Pitti’s Andito degli Angiolini: 100 very rare pictures taken from the 1930s to ‘70s tell the story of fashion in Florence through the lens of the photographers of Foto Locchi.
The project stems from a collaboration between Archivio Storico Foto Locchi (a cultural patrimony of priceless value comprising more than five million photographs), director of the Uffizi Galleries Eike Schmidt, the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana – thanks to which the exhibition will be inaugurated with an event during the 91st edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo – and the Gruppo Editoriale publishing group, with the intention of promoting the importance of the photography archive and paying tribute to the historic connection between Florence and fashion.

Eike D. Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Gallery: “Today, as the inevitable abstraction of objects and concrete spaces in the digital world creates an unprecedented search for authentic masterpieces and unique places, Florence has the chance to revitalise its specific role as a key player in the textile and apparel industries, which essentially date back to the Renaissance”.

Andrea Cavicchi, president of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana: “The Archivio storico Foto Locchi is the most authentic testament to the birth and success of Made in Italy in the world. Without this documentary heritage, the city of Florence would be poorer. So would the institution I chair, the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, championed by farsighted public officials who understood, even in 1954, just how important and vital the textile-apparel sector, the leather industry and the creativity of our artisanal products could be—in terms of work, turnover and employment”.

Erika Ghilardi, Archivio Foto Locchi: “This monographic exhibition, the first by the Archivio storico Foto Locchi, held in the halls of the old-guard Palazzo Pitti royals, and its opening during Pitti Uomo 91, is the source of my great pride and sincere excitement for myself and my family. The fashion section is one of the prevalent, important themes in the Archive—an archive whose cultural and visual heritage includes more than 5 million images telling the story of Florence over the last century”.

THE THREE SECTIONS OF THE EXHIBITION
The artisan workshops: That set of workshops dedicated to high craftsmanship since the Middle Ages, which in the twentieth century contributed to the creation of some of the best-known Italian high fashion labels in the world. Already in the Twenties, the legend of Florentine craftsmanship had arrived in the United States: wealthy American heiress turned to Florence to buy up embroidered lingerie, silverware, exquisitely worked leather and straw hats. Emblematic in this context was Salvatore Ferragamo’s decision to settle in Florence after 13 years of success in America. He chose Florence for its beauty as well as to delve into the depths of the specialized crafts that would allow the shoemaker to achieve his goals of excellence.
Fashion in Florence: from the earliest events after World War II to the legendary shows in Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Bianca (1952-1982), the origins of modern fashion in Florence are thanks to the courage of a man who was as courteous as he was severe, a connoisseur of the American market, Giovanni Battista Giorgini, who had made a name for himself in New York as a buyer capable of turning dreams into reality. If Giorgini was the father of Italian fashion, then Florence at that time was the cradle of beauty and charm, of a new style that emanated from the Florentine and international entourage that had formed around the newly born fashion system, as seen in the photography of those days taken by Foto Locchi reporters not only of the catwalks in the Sala Bianca, but also in the private palazzos and historic gardens with their gala dinners, parties and exclusive rendezvous.
The fashion celebrities: The Florentine maisons that birthed the modern history of Italian fashion such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Emilio Pucci told by their founders and the celebrities who made them fashion around the world. The deus ex machina of the great Italian designers who showed their collections in the Sala Bianca: Roberto Capucci, Emilio Schuberth, Sorelle Fontana and Simonetta Colonna di Cesarò. Celebrities who had no qualms about taking a chance alongside Giovanni Battista Giorgini and who revolutionized modern Italian clothing starting in Florence. In addition to the special guests who flew in from Paris, like Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, the foreign aristocracy such as the Duke of Windsor and fated Hollywood stars, from Audrey Hepburn to Paulette Goddard and the divine Maria Callas.

Perusing the immense Archivio and annual agendas, written up daily by photo reporters from the Foto Locchi bottega, brings a constant stream of new discoveries. One example among many, which emerged during the research carried out for this exhibition, is the note dated 6 June 1948, indicating that that evening in the Sala Bianca, a “Gala Evening with Presentation of Models” (film rolls 568 and 569 from 1948). It was, then, a “preliminary” event to the noted fashion shows held regularly in Palazzo Pitti since 22 July 1952.

Accompanying the show is the catalogue published by Gruppo Editoriale featuring the 100 rare pictures on display in the exhibition and contextualized with articles written by Caterina Chiarelli, Eva Desiderio and Stefania Ricci, in addition to an introduction by Eike Schmidt, Andrea Cavicchi and Erika Ghilardi.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Publiacqua, Toscana Aeroporti, and with the support of Dr. Vranjes, Edra and Caffè Gilli dal 1733 Firenze.

Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, Piazza de’ Pitti 1, 50125 Florence
From 9 January to 5 March 2017
Tuesday to Sunday, 8.45am-6.50pm

ARCHIVIO FOTO LOCCHI
Archivio Storico Foto Locchi is under the protection of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism for its high artistic and documentary value, since it comprises more than five million photographs of the history of Florence and Tuscany from the 1930s to the present day, stored as original negatives. Pictures from the world of fashion, sport, theatre, groundbreaking news and events, as well as fragments of daily life in the past and present. The black-and-white photography of Archivio Storico Foto Locchi convey fleeting feelings and atmospheres, in an extraordinary series of events, emotions and famous visitors from all over the world. The archive came into existence at the heart of the work by the old Foto Locchi photography workshop founded by Tullio Locchi and continued by Silvano Corcos as its soul. Over the years Locchi has grown into a flourishing firm employing more than 30 staff, whose aim remains the same: to document all city events worthy of note. With the arrival of television, the three large screens in piazza della Repubblica played a fundamental role in news reporting at the time. Now Erika Ghilardi, a direct descendent of the Locchi family, manages what can be deemed true world heritage.

THAT ABSTRACT WORLD UNDER OUR FEET # 2: A DISFIGURED PAVEMENT IN FLORENCE

© Roberto Alborghetti – Lacer/actions

Yes, there is an abstract world under our feet … These are some of the images I recently took walking along the streets of Florence (Italy). They’re macro of a disfigured pavement. The pictures are part of LaceR/Actions”, a multidisciplinary project and research about the apparent chaos of ripped and decomposed publicity posters, natural cracks, crevices, scratches and urban and industrial signs and tokens. Transferred on canvases, reproduced on lithographic prints or textiles, re-built on collages or scanned in videoclips, the images of torn and disfigured posters and natural cracks, corrosions and scratches give new meanings and expressions to paper lacerations and matters decompositions. They’re not paintings…They’re Lacer/actions!

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Interested in purchasing these images in exclusive and original copies? Please contact: ro.alb@alice.it ; sandinipaolo@gmail.com

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