Palazzo Strozzi Exhibitions attract 230,000 visitors
Bronzino and Portraits of Power
Bronzino. Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici, the first ever exhibition devoted to the paintings of this major 16th century artist, closed at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, on 23 January 2011 having attracted over 140,000 visitors since it opened on 24 September 2010. The exhibition, promoted by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze as the key cultural event of the 2010-11 winter programme to appeal to both Italian and international visitors in what is traditionally considered the ‘low season’, averaged 1,153 visitors daily during an unbroken run of 122 days.
This landmark exhibition, hailed by critics as one of the most magnificent art exhibitions to have been held in Florence in recent years, is unlikely to be repeated given the extremely valuable, large and rarely loaned works of art on display from the world’s most important museums – there will be other Caravaggio shows, other Da Vinci shows, even other Michelangelo shows, but not another Bronzino show on such a scale.
Devised by Cristina Acidini, Soprintendenza per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, the exhibition was curated by Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery, and by Carlo Falciani, one of the art world’s leading authorities on Bronzino.
“The success of the Bronzino show should prompt us to reflect on the desirability of planning exhibitions capable of transcending the media mythology,” said Antonio Natali. “No one can claim that Bronzino was unheard of, but then neither was he one of those artists whose names are guaranteed to draw the crowds. In addition to the knowledge and educational experience offered to visitors, the fact that they turned out in such vast numbers (particularly at this time of year) shows that the exhibition-goer, a naturally inquisitive type, is ready to look beyond Botticelli, Leonardo, Van Gogh, the Impressionists and other ‘popular’ crowd-pullers.”
“What does the visitor gain from an exhibition like this?” asked Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Chairman of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. “Apart from the wonderful memories, Palazzo Strozzi has succeeded in consolidating its reputation in the international arena, building on the work that the Fondazione has been doing over the past few years to attract a new, inquisitive, intelligent and quality audience from both Italy and abroad, lured by the challenge that Florence faces in reconciling its Renaissance past with a vibrant present. This is the best guarantee that those who came to see Bronzino at Palazzo Strozzi will return to Florence. A desire to return is what the visitor is left with, it is what makes the visitor feel truly fulfilled at having had the privilege of enjoying this experience.”
"Contemporary Palazzo Strozzi" Reaps Huge Success Too
Over 60,000 people visited Michelangelo Pistoletto’s installation Square Metre of Infinity in a Mirror Cube, which marked the start of an important partnership between the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina (CCCS) and the Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea in Gaiole in Chianti (Siena).
The installation, which was open to the public free of charge, was hosted in the Strozzi’s Renaissance courtyard and designed as a tribute to the splendid architecture of Palazzo Strozzi. Visitors were offered the experience of an ambivalent space, the exterior of which was at odds with the interior, in a dialogue with the architecture of the courtyard which, in turn, toyed with geometric shapes and proportions open to the sky.
Equally successful was Portraits of Power, an exhibition organized by the CCCS presenting portraits of famous personalities from Fidel Castro to Queen Elizabeth II, exploring various lifestyles and social behaviour while also investigating the power structures of international institutions. The show, visited by over 26,000 people, was also well reviewed in the international press.
“This success is a tribute to the quality of the CCCS’S cultural programme,” remarked Franziska Nori, Director of the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, “confirming its role as an institution determined to foster a new approach to contemporary exhibitions in Florence, affording priority to their quality and to their international appeal.”
“These excellent results not only bear out the projects’ intrinsic validity and extremely high quality”, added James Bradburne, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, “they also show our ability to think out of the box by offering events of excellence in what is considered an off-peak season for exhibitions. This raises awareness of what can be offered by not only Palazzo Strozzi but the city of Florence as a whole as a venue for cultural events of immense value all year round. In accordance with its ambitious designs, it has always been the Fondazione’s aim to play a leading role in putting Florence back on the map as a cosmopolitan city with an important contribution to make to the artistic and cultural environment on a national and international level. The Fondazione’s organisational approach, based on combining international standards of curatorship with consideration for its visitors, will also be the distinguishing feature of Palazzo Strozzi’s future exhibitions.”
The first of these will be Picasso, Miró, Dalí. Angry Young Men: the Birth of Modernity. From 12 March to 17 July 2011, Palazzo Strozzi will be focusing on modern art with a major exhibition devoted to the three greatest Spanish artists of the 20th century. The exhibition will be exploring both the common roots of a style that was to make the three artists household names, and their shared determination to rebel against the conventions of the era.
At the same time, the CCCS is presenting the second edition of Emerging Talents from 19 February to 1 May 2011, an award and an exhibition designed to provide young Italian artists with the chance to promote their work, and to offer both the general public and critics an opportunity to monitor the panorama of contemporary art in Italy today.