Trending at 86th Pitti Immagine in Florence (Art-wise): Italian susperstar artist Francesco Vezzoli on show at 3 house-museums

2014-06-17 18.29.06

Internationally recognised as one of the leading Italian artists of his generation, Francesco Vezzoli is featuring in Vezzoli Primavera – Estate, a solo show that premiered on the opening day of the 86 Pitti Immagine edition in Florence. The exhibition is a multi-venue display showcasing on 3 of the most refined house-museums in Florence: Museo Bardini, Museo Bellini and Museo di Casa Martelli.

Vezzoli Primavera – Estate, curated by Francesco Bonami, is a tribute to Florence history and museums through a treasure hunt-like itinerary among the masterpieces belonging to the museums’ collections. Set up by great art collectors and antique dealers, the 3 house-museums are off-the-beaten track though highly recommended visitors’ destinations; they cherish vast collections of Renaissance masterpieces and antiquities ranging from paintings, sculptures, tapestries and furniture and reflecting the taste of the collectors as well as the aura of the interiors.

Museo Bardini courtesy Alessandro Ciampi

Museo Bardini courtesy Alessandro Ciampi

The backdrop in the museums recalls the intimacy and atmospheric space of other renowned house-museums such as the sir John Soane’s Museum in London, that is preserved as it was at the time of the Founder’s death in January 1837. On the first Tuesday of each month the London’s museum witnesses the invasion of hundreds of thrilled visitors willing to queue in the cold and rain for hours to secure a place in the popular candlelit late openings. The visit to the early 19th cent dimly lit interiors is a must-have experience: in the silence and obscurity of the neoclassical townhouse rooms the visitors are enticed by the wealth of the intriguing work on display, ranging from Pompeian-red rooms, a cloudy sky painted ceiling and the breakfast parlour, to the paintings by Canaletto and Hogarth in the Picture Room and the Egyptian and Roman antiquities.

the queue at soane's museum at night

the queue at soane’s museum at night

Although the 3 Florentine museums aren’t invaded by bewitched evening audience (as yet), their refined collections of antiquities and XV – XVII cent artworks are more than worth the visit. Moreover the temporary exhibition Vezzoli Primavera – Estate offers a wonderful opportunity to discover them and reflect on the charm of the domestic settings as well as on the public vs. private polarity.

Self-portrait as Pope Innocenzo X (after Velasquez)

Self-portrait as Pope Innocenzo X (after Velasquez)

Vezzoli’s work intrudes into the original display in a trompe-l’oeil-esque attitude: the multi-layered camouflage involves both the dissimulation of his work as chameleons among the collections and the artist himself – who superimposes his self-portrait to the real image in a number of famous works (see the portrait of Pope Innocenzo X above, Self-portratit as a Self-portrait after Rallaello and Selfie Sebastian here below).

Self-portrait as a Self-portrait (After Raffaello Sanzio) photo courtesy

Self-portrait as a Self-portrait (After Raffaello Sanzio) photo courtesy

 

Selfie Sebastian (self-portrait as St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna)

Selfie Sebastian (self-portrait as St. Sebastian by Andrea Mantegna)

In the Museo Bardini the artist plays with Renaissance art either to create contemporary versions of the XV and XVI cent Madonna (Crying Portrait of Stephanie Seymour as a Renaissance Madonna with Holy Child after Benozzo Gozzoli, Crying Portrait of Christie Brinkley as a Renaissance Madonna With Holy Child after Giovanni Bellini on show in the stucco and terracotta Madonna room) or again to add his features to marble busts and Roman Togatus torsos.

Crying Portrait of Stephanie Seymour as a Renaissance Madonna with Holy Child (After Benozzo Gozzoli)

Crying Portrait of Stephanie Seymour as a Renaissance Madonna with Holy Child (After Benozzo Gozzoli)

He places his metaphysical reinterpretation of Sofia Loren’s features in the De Chirico Room at Museo Bellini, next to the genuine “Cavallo con cavaliere arabo”, while in the Sala degli Arazzi (Room of the Tapestries) he replaced a late 16th-century piece from the Flemish school with “A Present for the Artist”, dedicated to Marina Abramovic. In the chapel of the Museo di Casa Martelli featuring Madonnas attributed to the school of Filippo Lippi, the artist placed his “Self-Portrait As a Self Portrait” (After Raffaello Sanzio).

Portrait of Sofia Loren starring in "Presente e Passato" (after De Chirico)

Portrait of Sofia Loren starring in “Presente e Passato” (after De Chirico)

“Primavera-Estate” is a special Fondazione Pitti Discovery project,  celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Florence Fashion Chamber through the special events of FHOF “Firenze Hometown of Fashion”. The exhibition will be on view until July 20 2014 at the Museo Bardini, the Museo di Casa Martelli and the Museo Bellini in Florence.

A Present for the Artist

A Present for the Artist

 

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