Florence hosts Ytalia, a collective exhibition of contemporary Italian art from 2 June to 1 October 2017.
After the recent one-man retrospective exhibitions showcasing the work of Giuseppe Penone, Antony Gormley and Jan Fabre, the superb setting of the Forte di Belvedere in Florence, a fabulous stage for contemporary art, hosts works by twelve leading artists: Mario Merz (1925–2003), Giovanni Anselmo (1934), Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017), Luciano Fabro (1936–2007), Alighiero Boetti (1940-94), Giulio Paolini (1940), Gino De Dominicis (1947–98), Remo Salvadori (1947), Mimmo Paladino (1948), Marco Bagnoli (1949), Nunzio (1954), Domenico Bianchi (1955). This galaxy of masters embraces within its broad confines fully three generations of artists, from the neo-Avant Garde to the post-modern and beyond. To mark the works’ close ties with the present day, with the past, and with the settings and works of that past, the exhibition has “extramural” appendices in some of the city’s most important public buildings and museums: Palazzo Vecchio and the Gallerie degli Uffizi, Santa Croce and the Museo Marino Marini, the Boboli Garden and the Museo Novecento.
In Assisi, on one of the vaults in the Upper Church of St. Francis, Cimabue wrote the word Ytalia alongside his depiction of a city, undoubtedly Rome, in which we can recognise a number of the buildings, including the Castel Santangelo, possibly St. Peter’s or St. John Lateran, the Pantheon, the Senate and the Torre dei Conti. This bird’s eye view of the eternal city nestling within its walls was Cimabue’s way of conveying the idea of Italian civilisation, a concept to be admired, to be proud to be part of, and to be unabashedly promoted. In writing that word, Cimabue was telling us that our national borders (in circa 1280/90) were not so much political as artistic, that our national identity is built on Classical and Humanist culture, on pagan beauty and Christian spirituality. Nor has much changed over the centuries that have elapsed since then. Italy is still the home of art and beauty today, as it was from the 14th to the 16th centuries, the centuries of its greatest splendour, and up to and including the 20th century. In that sense, within the international artistic community, Italian art from Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo and Caravaggio right up to the Futurist movement and beyond has played the role of a beacon, a model for the rest of the world, because what the world has been able to admire in our art is the perfect balance that that art has invariably struck between the Classical and the anti-Classical, between the eclectic and the pure, between invention and emulation, between the immanent and the transcendent. An exhibition offering Italian and international visitors alike a chance to explore the work of some of the most important Italian artists of our own day is always an important event, not only for the emotions and the thoughts that it provokes but also for the debate that it inevitably sparks.
“It is a great pleasure to continue to cooperate with the Comune di Firenze in offering the city and the world exhibitions of international importance such as the Ytalia exhibition, in which many of the city’s venues will be coming together for the first time to host the work of Italy’s most important artists from the 1960s to the present day. For the occasion, work by Mario Merz, Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Giulio Paolini, Alighiero Boetti, Mimmo Paladino and Domenico Bianchi is to be displayed in some of the most celebrated areas of the Gallerie degli Uffizi and the Boboli Garden in order to foster a dialogue with the great masters of the past. That same aim will be also shared by a major one-man exhibition devoted to the contemporary master Helidon Xhixha that is due to be held in the Boboli Garden this summer” said Eike Schmidt, Director of the Gallerie degli Uffizi.
A similar degree of enthusiasm was voiced also by the President of the Opera di Santa Croce, Irene Sanesi: “With Ytalia in Santa Croce, art ‘in the manner of today’, as Vasari called the contemporary art of his own time, is returning to dialogue with the artistic, architectural and spiritual symbols of a past that transforms memory into commemoration and testifies vividly to the universal values in the furrow of history” and by Patrizia Asproni, President of the Museo Marino Marini: “The participation of the Museo Marino Marini in Florence in the Ytalia exhibition marks an important development in which dialogue between the past and contemporary art is designed to forge an innovative links among the city’s institutions in a simple complexity that makes it possible to perceive events and developments which would otherwise escape our attention, and which culminate as a group in ‘unbalancing’ people’s enjoyment of art. This time-lapse in Italy’s artistic output encounters a ‘holistic’ dimension in the Marini museum setting, a dimension bolstered by the natural stratification of a museum which has been, and still is, a church, a factory, a shelter, a community.”
About a hundred works of art are to be showcased in some of the most highly symbolic settings that Florence’s cultural heritage can provide: places that are known, frequented and admired by thousands of people from all over the world every single day.
To mark the Ytalia exhibition, several artists have been asked to produce site-specific works to dialogue with the setting hosting them, as in the cases of Giovanni Anselmo, Giulio Paolini, Remo Salvadori, Mimmo Paladino, Marco Bagnoli, Nunzio and Domenico Bianchi. In other instances, new layouts will in every case be presented to display works with a consolidated history of their own in settings of outstanding historical and artistic value, as in the case of Jannis Kounellis’ No Title, on display in Palazzo Vecchio, in the Hall of Lilies or Sala dei Gigli only a short distance from Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes; of Luciano Fabro’s Expired and Giovanni Anselmo’s Detail , exceptionally on display in Santa Croce inside the Pazzi Chapel designed by Brunelleschi; of Giulio Paolini‘s Elegy set in the Room of Venus in the Galleria Palatina in Palazzo Pitti, in dialogue with Antonio Canova’s marble masterpiece “The Italic Venus“; of fully six Kilim (From One to a Thousand and Vice-Versa) and two Maps by Alighiero Boetti in the Room of the Niches in Palazzo Pitti; of the monumental painting entitled Wood Giants and Towards the Zenith by Mario Merz in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, also in Palazzo Pitti; of Mimmo Paladino’s Drift resting on the water of the Fountain of Neptune in the Boboli Garden and his Geometric Chant in close dialogue with the architecture of Leon Battista Alberti in the Rucellai Chapel; and of Antimatter, a picture in wood and palladium by Domenico Bianchi in the Galleria Palatina, displayed in the temporarily empty frame of Raphael’s Madonna dell’Impannata which is currently undergoing restoration. Similarly, at the Museo Marino Marini, in the crypt and in some of the adjacent spaces, Mimmo Paladino and Nunzio will be producing a number of site-specific wall works, while the new rooms in the Museo Novecento will be hosting a novel juxtaposition between the work of Alighiero Boetti and Gino De Dominicis, including Bringing the World into the World and Sphynx. The exhibition will also be showcasing work by Remo Salvadori comprising two new large-scale metal sculptures entitled Amphora and Model and Man Hearing, purpose-designed for one of the bastions of the Forte Belvedere, and In the Moment, geometrical shapes in lead, tin, copper and silver installed on the four outside walls of Buontalenti’s Palazzina. Also, up at the Forte di Belvedere, but in the garden behind the fort and in line with the façade of San Miniato al Monte, Marco Bagnoli will be installing his Noli me tangere, a fountain consisting in a parabolic basin in polished steel and a monumental figure rough-hewn in pure Carrara marble.
Mario Merz, Giovanni Anselmo, Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Alighiero Boetti, Giulio Paolini, Gino De Dominicis, Remo Salvadori, Mimmo Paladino, Marco Bagnoli, Nunzio and Domenico Bianchi
Florence, Forte di Belvedere
2 June – 1 October 2017
Exhibition promoted by the Commune of Florence
Exhibition designer and art director Sergio Risaliti
Exhibition organised by Mus.e
Forte di Belvedere, Palazzo Vecchio, Galleria delle Statue e delle Pitture degli Uffizi, Galleria Palatina, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Garden, Monumental complex of Santa Croce, Museo Marino Marini, Museo Novecento.