Gong by Eliseo Mattiacci

Gong, Eliseo Mattiacci at Forte di Belvedere

FLORENCE, ITALY – Following the celebrated monographic retrospective exhibitions of Giuseppe Penone, Antony Gormley and Jan Fabre, and of the collective Ytalia, this year the battlements and the villa of Forte di Belvedere in Florence are hosting Gong, an imposing retrospective exhibition dedicated to Eliseo Mattiacci (Cagli, 1940).

Mattiacci is one of contemporary art’s major protagonists, included among the pioneers of Italian avant-garde of the late Sixties, craftsman of experimentation and renewal in sculpture, inspired inventor of cosmological iconographies and of new spatial and conceptual relationships between art and nature, between man and the environment.

A monumental presentation of twenty sculptures exhibited outside the fort and within the villa, in addition to an extensive collection of drawings, about eighty, which, for the first time ever, allow the public to admire the always supreme graphic activity of Mattiacci.

It is an almost shamanic exercise, aimed at exploring the sublime of the cosmos, the orbits of the planets and stars, the rhythms and geometries that belong to the infinite universe, so as to draw stellar maps that today, just like millions of years ago, also function in symbolic, ritualistic terms.

From his earliest works, iron sculptures that are actual assemblies of a new, as yet unseen archaism, Mattiacci has understood how to blend and reunite gestures that are human and those of the metaphysical imagination with the unfathomable nature of life in the universe and with the immeasurable energy of matter and among the stars, with the cosmic cycle of life and death, that of being and nothingness, the forces that are visible and those not still invisible in space and time, such as magnetic attraction and gravity.

“I feel attracted by the sky with its stars and planets and all that lies beyond, by our galaxies, it’s an imagination that goes beyond, as if it seeks challenging imagination itself, as if in a dream. I would like to launch one of my sculptures into orbit in outer space. It would truly be a magnificent dream to know that one of my spatial shapes is orbiting out there,” stated Mattiacci, to whom personal exhibitions have been held in various museums and foundations around the world, including the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the Kunstforum Stadtische Galerie in Munich, the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, the Institut Culturel Italien in Paris, the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Museion in Bolzano, the Fattoria di Celle – Gori Collection in Pistoia, the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles and Toronto and the MART – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto.

Located within the interior spaces of the Fortress, important historical works such as the Tubo (Tube) (1967)  can be found. This work, measuring approximately sixty metres of extension, will be presented along with – for the first time since the exhibition at the Galleria L’Attico in Rome –  the Installation Recupero di un mito (Recovery of a Myth) (1975), as will also be found the sound installation Echi di suoni e cani che abbaiano (Echoes of sounds and dogs barking) (1983).

Also exhibited will be the early works such as Scultura lunatica (Lunatic sculpture) of 1962. Regarding the most recent works, an entire room will host the installation with the planets in aluminium on the layered surface in lead pellets La mia idea del cosmo (My idea of the cosmos) (2001), while the large propellers in aluminium of Dinamica Verticale (Vertical Dynamic) (2013) will dominate the spaces on the ground floor.

Continuing on the first floor, the public will intercept a sequence of rooms dedicated entirely to drawing, a true “exhibition within the exhibition” that will systematically examine the dense seasons of this constant and yet so little probed practice of the work of Mattiacci.

Drawings will be exhibited that evoke the atmosphere of the performance of the Seventies, the cycle Predisporsi ad un capolavoro cosmico-astronomico (Preparing yourself for a cosmic-astronomical masterpiece) of 1980-1981, the frottages on metal of the Campi magnetici (Magnetic fields), the Cosmogonies, up to the recent Corpi Celesti (Celestial Bodies) of 2005-2015.

Upon leaving the villa, in the large terraced gardens of Forte di Belvedere, one finds the large works of corten steel of cosmic astronomical inspiration, with one side oriented toward the great Renaissance construction site which is the city of Florence, and the other side directed toward the hills that host the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, not far from the final residence of Galileo Galilei.

Making  use of the generous loans from public and private collections, in this system of spatial references the works will be arranged starting from the end of the Eighties up until the most recent years, such as the two totems Verso il cielo (Toward the sky) (1987), Equilibri precari (Precarious equilibria) quasi impossibile (almost impossible) (1991), Segno australe – Croce del Sud (Southern Sign – Southern Cross) (1991), Gong (1993), Vie de cielo (Sky roads) (1995), the disks of Ordine cosmico (Cosmic order) (1995-96), Totem con nuvola (Totem with cloud) (1996), and the as yet unseen Scultura che guarda (Sculpture that watches) (1997-2013).

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the fundamental support of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena – main sponsor of the event – and thanks to the sponsorship of Carpisa, to the technical sponsorship of Forma and with the support of Galleria Poggiali.LAST ENTRANCE AT 7.00PM. CLOSED ON MONDAYS.

Gong exhibit – Forte Belvedere – Open until October 14, 2018. Admission: 2 Euros.

Steve McCurry, fisherman paddles his boat along Inle Lake

Steve McCurry celebrated in a 100 shots-exhibition

FLORENCE, ITALY – 40 years of activity the master of world photography Steve McCurry celebrated in a 100 shots-exhibition at the suggestive and fascinating Villa Bardini, Florence.

Until September 16th the exhibition ‘Steve McCurry. Icons’, curated by Biba Giacchetti, collects the 100 shots documenting the best of what the American artist has achieved in 40 years of activity.

The exhibition takes visitors on a symbolic journey into the complex universe of experiences and emotions that characterize his images and which will touch countries such as India, Afghanistan, Burma, Japan, Cuba and Brazil.

Do not miss the portrait of Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl that McCurry has photographed in the Peshawar refugee camp in Pakistan and who, with her big green eyes and sad look, has become an absolute icon of world photography.

Within the exhibition, the film is shown, produced by National Geographic, dedicated to the long search that allowed to find, 17 years later, ‘the Afghan girl’ now adult.

Steve McCurry Icons – From 15 June to 16 September
Villa Bardini, Costa San Giorgio, 2 and Via dei Bardi 1rosso – 50125 Florence
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 7 pm (last admission at 6 pm)
Monday closed

Tickets cost: Full € 10.00, Reduced € 5.00. Every Wednesday in August free admission for everyone to Villa Bardini and to the exhibition ‘Icons’ by Steve McCurry.

The new room of Leonardo da Vinci at the Uffizi

FLORENCE, ITALY – After the arrangement of the new rooms dedicated to Caravaggio and the 17th-century painting, and the one devoted to Michelangelo and Raphael last month, a new room hosting Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings has been inaugurated on 9th July 2018 at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

According to Vasari, it was 1504 when young Raphael arrived in Florence in order to admire Leonardo’s and Michelangelo’s preparatory cartoons for the two famous Battles of Anghiari and Cascina respectively, which were to be frescoed in Palazzo Vecchio.

Hence it was an extraordinary and unique moment in history, when the three geniuses happened to meet together in the city of Florence. And, as it is, from today those three giants of the Renaissance can finally meet again and be admired in two new adjacent rooms on the second floor of the Uffizi.

As in the case of Michelangelo and Raphael, also Leonardo’s paintings are preserved in special climate-controlled cases saving the artworks from the humidity and heat produced by tourists’ flow. Besides their glasses are anti-glare too, which allows visitors to get so extremely close to the paintings to almost touch them.

On the left is the Baptism of Christ, executed for the Church of San Salvi in Florence in 1475/78, where young Leonardo collaborated with his master Andrea del Verrocchio realizing the angel in profile.

On the opposite wall is the Annunciation, from the Church of Monte Oliveto, where the angel is so real and alive to project his own shadow over the meadow in bloom while he is landing and closing his fans, apparently reproduced after studying real birds’ anatomy. On the background is a sea landscape with mountains, one of the most beautiful ever represented by the artist in his career.

In the centre is the recently restored Adoration of the Magi, commissioned by the Augustinians for their Church of San Donato a Scopeto and left unfinished when Leonardo had to move to Milan in 1482. Yet it is this very state that allows to follow Leonardo’s mind’s creative processes, in all his sketches, ideas, second thoughts and reconsiderations.

“The new arrangement – says Director Eike Schmidt – allows a slower and more thoughtful visit in which it is possible to compare and understand the stylistic development of young Leonardo. And it is also part of those necessary changes the museum is undergoing in order to be more informative, clear and comprehensible at large”.

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San Gimignano launches crowdfunding to repair walls

FLORENCE, ITALY – The town council of San Gimignano on Tuesday launched a crowdfunding scheme to pay to repair part of its walls which collapsed last week.

The scheme has been set up after the Tuscany regional government said it was prevented by stability pact rules from funding the repair at the Town of Fine Towers, a UNESCO world heritage site.

San Gimignano  is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls, form an unforgettable skyline.

Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches.

The Palazzo Comunale, the Collegiate Church and Church of Sant’ Agostino contain frescos, including cycles dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.

The town also is known for saffron, the Golden Ham, and its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area.

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Caravaggio's Medusa

The new Caravaggio’s rooms at the Uffizi

FLORENCE, ITALY – The eight rooms on the first floor of the eastern wing of the Uffizi opened with a new layout devoted to Caravaggio and the painting of the 17th century on February 19, 2018.

The names of the eight rooms are evocative: Between Reality and Magic; Caravaggio and Artemisia; Caravaggio: Medusa; Caravaggio: Bacchus; By Candlelight; Rembrandt and Rubens; Galileo and the Medici; and  Florentine Epic. The lion’s share obviously goes to Caravaggio, the unquestioned pivot of painting in a century characterised by strong passions, symbolism and often extreme innovation.

The age’s passionateness determined the colour choice of red for the panels in the rooms along the corridor (in order to avoid intervening directly on Vasari’s original colour scheme) and for the walls of the inner rooms (from 96 to 99). Not a flaming, over-the-top red but a red that is often found in the fabrics and decor depicted in the paintings of those years, developed on the basis of a textile sample of the period and manufactured with natural pigments already in use in the 17th century: a real yet almost “filtered” red, as one might say.

Uffizi Galleries’ Director Eike Schmidt stated: “The new layout is based on a thematic and artistic approach designed to inspire and to stimulate the visitor’s curiosity, carrying him or her back into the atmosphere of the time and into the history of the Medici’s collections. The idea is to create an intellectual experience both for the non-specialist and for the expert. Thanks to the juxtaposition of paintings from Florence and the rest of Italy with pictures from northern Europe, we have recovered the international spirit informing the taste of the period, which was open to influences from every country.”

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“Between Reality and Magic”, the first room, contains paintings by artists who were active in the 16th century but already paved the way towards a new artistic approach that left the Mannerist ideals behind. Also on view are highly unconventional, playful and even bizarre subjects such as Annibale Caracci’s Man with an Ape. Other works are exemplary of the learned culture suffused with symbolic meanings, which is characteristic of the region in which Caravaggio trained. This is the case, for instance, with the Dossi brothers’ Allegory of Hercules (once thought to be a scene of witchcraft) and with the enigmatic Witch Strangling a Putto of intensely discussed attribution.

The following room, “Caravaggio and Artemisia”, is dominated by a biblical subjects, which revolve around the theme of violence. It showcases an extremely fine David and Goliath by Guido Reni, which will be facing Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac as of June when it returns from the exhibitions in Milan and in Forlì; until then, the gap will be filled by an ancient copy of Caravaggio’s Incredulity of St. Thomas, which was already documented in the collection of Carlo de’ Medici by 1666. This room also houses Artemisia Gentileschi’s Beheading of Holofernes, one of the Uffizi’s most famous paintings.

In the room dedicated to Caravaggio’s Medusa, a magnificent painted parade shield is displayed in a new case against the backdrop of a large red panel. On the walls, in addition to Cecco Bravo’s Armida, a recent donation from the Friends of the Uffizi, it is worth highlighting the presence of a Roman statue of Minerva with the head of the Gorgon on her breast, and a painting of the Gorgon’s head crowned in writhing serpents painted by Otto Marseus van Schrieck but attributed in past centuries to Leonardo da Vinci and thus formerly admired by countless travellers as one of the most celebrated paintings at the Uffizi.

The next room is devoted to still-life. Surrounding Caravaggio’s Bacchus we find two Larders by Empoli, a vase of flowers by Carlo Dolci and a still-life by Velázquez clear echoing the work of Caravaggio.

“By Candlelight” is the name of the next room, which is given over to the depiction of candlelit scenes. In the centre, a Nativity by Gherardo delle Notti (Gerard van Honthorst) in which the light appearing to model the figures in the scene is actually emanating directly from the Christ Child; around it, a number of genre paintings by Bartolommeo Manfredi, Mathias Stamer’s Annunciation and Bartolomeo Manfredi’s Roman Charity.

Works by the greatest masters of European painting of the period follow in the next, especially large room. The faces portrayed by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck in small- and large-format paintings form a succession of rightly famous works which, brought together in this way, comprise a breathtaking group full of cues prompting a reflection on the great painting of the 17th century, which was primarily European on account of the lively circulation of ideas and of the many, ongoing contacts among artists and patrons who cared little for national borders or boundaries.

European portraiture goes hand in hand with Florentine portraits: pride of place in the following room goes to the Portrait of Galileo Galilei and to a monumental triple portrait of Cosimo II, Maria Magdalena of Austria and their son Ferdinando II, both by Justus Sustermans.

In the last room in the tour, “Florentine Epic”, we find a spectacular Rinaldo and Armida by Cesare Dandini inspired by Tasso’s poem, and a small, precious St. Catherine of Alexandria by Francesco Furini. Literary themes taken from Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata were far and away the most popular subjects in Florence in the first half of the century. They were popular both on account of their nature as modern mythological fables and for their moral symbology, which people read into the stories of the heroes and heroines of both those chivalric poems.

Sting and Shaggy at the Anteprime di Toscana

Sting and Shaggy: a surprise performance in Florence

FLORENCE, ITALY – The rockstar Sting and his wife Trudie Styler, owner of a winery in Chianti, toasted to open the previews of Tuscany 2018 at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence. Before the toast, Sting sang in acoustic version, together with the singer raggamuffin Shaggy, surprise present to the previews , “Message in a bottle” and “Do not make me wait”, the song that the two artists performed at the Sanremo festival.

Sting and Trudie officially opened the week-long Anteprime di Toscana and visited the stands of 11 wine consortiums. The following consortiums uncorked their best bottles of the new vintage: Carmignano, Casole d’Elsa, Colline Lucchesi, Cortona, Elba, Maremma Toscana, Montecarlo di Lucca, Montecucco, Pitigliano and Sovana, Val di Cornia and Valdarno di Sopra.

At this event, with distinguished guests opening procedures, operators and journalists from all over the world tasted the first wines of 2017 produced in the territories of the leading consortium producers: Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

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Firenze e cioccolata in Santissima Annunziata, Florence, Italy

The new craft chocolate fair in Florence

FLORENCE, ITALY – The countdown just started! Firenze e cioccolato, the new craft chocolate fair will take place in Florence from the 2nd to the 11th of March.

A special edition that represents a kind of year zero, for this historical event. The Chocolate fair, was born fourteen years ago and was always characterised by interesting events and by the involvement of important personalities of the Tuscan panorama.

This is the year of restyling: The fair will have a new look but also will become not just a stop over for gourmet lovers but also a showcase dedicated to professionals and chefs.

In the beautiful Piazza SS. Annunziata you will find a selection of more than twenty maitre chocolatier coming from all over Italy. They will offer you pralines, chocolat bars, ganaches and more over. An unforgettable “chocolate trip” from the north to the south of Italy

This year the Fair schedule will be marked by cooking shows with Michelin Starred chefs, games and workshops for children, food tasting and matching guided by gourmet professionals.

There will be an area dedicated to meetings focused on the chocolate product, with special attention to the nutritional and health aspects. The same area will be also dedicated to discussions on important current themes and also on unusual subjects as the relation between sport and chocolate. One of the partners of this event is the renowned maître chocolatier Andrea Bianchini.

The Chocolate fair is also made of shows and entertainment that will transform Piazza SS. Annunziata in the place where to spend relaxing moments with family and friends.

Cioccolato e Firenze is open every day from 10 am to 10 pm, free admission, the florentine JDEvents srl is the organiser.

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Oltrarno, the first app for the other side of Florence

FLORENCE, ITALY – There’s another side of Florence waiting to be discovered, just over the Arno, filled with artisan workshops, quaint restaurants and trattorie and Florentines who still carry out their daily lives far from the tourist crowds. Oltrarno su misura is the first guide dedicated entirely to the Oltrarno and its dense weave of small streets that wind around the most famous noble palaces and their magnificent gardens, the churches overlooking the lively piazzas and the thousands of aromas wafting from the workshops, permeating every corner of the city.

The guide has come to fruition after two years of hard work by the City of Florence, the Florence Chamber of Commerce, Oltrarno Promuove 2.0, and the trade associations, with the contribution of Fondazione CR Firenze. The journey through this other side of Florence unfolds across 280 pages of never-before-seen images taken by a team headed by photographer Dario Garofalo, curated by the publisher Gruppo Editoriale.

Oltrarno su misura is also a free app, Oltrarno App: with one click, you can explore these places, all geolocated, for the best Oltrarno experience possible.

The knowledge from which the Oltrarno gains its strength is the result of an unparalleled tradition of craftsmanship. Oltrarno su misura is a collection of the fruits of these experiences, presenting them to you with spotlights dedicated to artists, craftsmen, antiques dealers and the faces of fashion, food, theater and a lifestyle that has made Florence famous throughout the world.

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Oltrarno su misura tells of a Florence marked by authenticity, waiting to be discovered and explored, step after step, with four itineraries through the neighbourhoods that mirror the great soul found of the left bank of the Arno:  San Frediano, Porta Romana, Santo Spirito and San Niccolò. Each one has its own story, what makes it special, and each one offers an exclusive look at the different microcosms that are filled to the brim with craftsmanship and poetry.

The guide accompanies readers through the beauty of one-of-a-kind places, true –must-sees: 13 museums, 14 churches, palaces, of which the guide has selected the 27 most important ones, and gardens, the green lungs of Florence.

Enriching this tale of Florence are curiosities: from the origins of the calcio storico, to the Sala Bianca, where Italian fashion as born, to the tabernacles and gonfalons, the earliest precursors to quarters. Finally, the more than 800s botteghe, or workshops, can be found listed inside the guide.

Read the Italian version of this post.

Oltrarno su misura: ecco guida e app del quartiere

FIRENZE – Oltre l’Arno si svela una Firenze tutta da scoprire, ricca di botteghe artigiane, di piccoli locali e trattorie, di fiorentini che vivono ancora la città lontani dai flussi classici del turismo.

Oltrarno su misura è la prima guida tutta dedicata all’Oltrarno: una guida cartacea ma anche una App per localizzare dal proprio cellulare strade, palazzi, musei, botteghe artigiane e curiosità di questo quartiere che recentemente Lonely Planet ha definito come uno dei quartieri più ‘cool’ del mondo.

La guida nasce da un lavoro lungo due anni ad opera del Comune di Firenze, la Camera di Commercio di Firenze, Oltrarno Promuove 2.0 e le associazioni di categoria, con il contributo della Fondazione CR Firenze.

Nella guida, 280 pagine con immagini del gruppo di lavoro guidato dal fotografo Dario Garofalo, curato dalla casa editrice Gruppo Editoriale, ci sono la storia e le curiosità di San Frediano, Porta Romana, Santo Spirito e San Niccolò, il cibo e il teatro, le chiese, i giardini e non ultime, le più di 800 botteghe che danno all’Oltrarno, un vero e proprio censimento che troverete all’interno della guida.

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Kathleen Kennedy at the Florence Biennale

Artistic trip to Florence by Kathleen Kennedy

FLORENCE, ITALY – Kathleen Kennedy, daughter of Bob and Ethel, and former governor between 1995 and 2003 in Maryland, is on a trip to Florence.

Among other things, she has visited the stands of the Florence Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art.

Accompanied by stylist Regina Schrecker, present on display at Fortezza da Basso with two Snow White scene dresses, Kathleen Kennedy was interested in the most curious works, talking to some of the artists present.

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