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piazza della signoria firenze arte jeff koons
September 27, 2021

All the artists who exhibited in Piazza della Signoria in Florence

From Botero to Penone's maxi-tree, great international contemporary art goes through here

Piazza della Signoria, the political heart of Florence from the Middle Ages to today, is surrounded by some of the most famous buildings of the city starting with Palazzo Vecchio, in front of which is a copy of Michelangelo's David (the original can be admired at the Accademia Gallery), the traditional seat of the Florentine government; the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open-air museum of sculpture with masterpieces such as Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus, a large bronze statue of over 3 meters, but also the complex marble Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.

The square is completed by the great Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati, the first public fountain in the city, called Biancone by the Florentines, and to the left of Palazzo Vecchio, the Equestrian Statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna.

the Marzocco (and Biancone) in Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria is often also the cradle of contemporary art and a coveted setting for artists from all over the world. The latest is Francesco Vezzoli's rampant lion. But before him, this extraordinary symbol of Florence was the ideal setting for artistic incursions by some of the greatest protagonists of contemporary art.

A cominciare dal maestro colombiano Ferdinando Botero che nel giugno del 1999 collocò 30 sculture monumentali in piazza della Signoria e nel piazzale degli Uffizi. Sculture inedite o mai state esposte in Italia e giunte a Firenze da collezioni private di tutto il mondo (tra queste: Torso maschile, Donna con specchio, Uomo che cammina, Il pensiero). La "perla" era rappresentata da "Apres Piero della Francesca", che Botero realizzò come omaggio a Firenze e al suo artista più amato, che è, appunto, Piero della Francesca.

Botero in 1999 in Piazza della Signoria (ph Roberto Di Ferdinando)

Let's jump directly into 2015 with the incursion of Jeff Koons, the world's most highly-rated living artist, the protagonist from October 2 of a major exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi. The artist had brought to Piazza della Signoria Pluto and Proserpina, a monumental work more than three meters high, which inaugurated the project Jeff Koons In Florence, an ambitious and innovative program that saw the protagonists of the art of our time confront the spaces and works of the Florentine Renaissance. The chosen places for the dialogue were the Sala dei Gigli in Palazzo Vecchio, where the work Gazing Ball (Barberini Faun) was exhibited, and Piazza della Signoria. The exhibition, organized by Associazione Mus.e and curated by Sergio Risaliti, was made possible thanks to the reports and contribution of Fabrizio Moretti, Secretary General of the International Antiques Biennale.

Jeff Koons in 2015 in Piazza della Signoria

A giant tortoise, a man holding a tape measure, a knight set in silver threads and a globe 2.50 meters in diameter covered with iridescent carapace beetles. These were the most grandiose works, exhibited from April to October 2016 in Piazza della Signoria and inside Palazzo Vecchio. The artist is Jan Fabre and the magnificent exhibition, which also ran at Forte di Belvedere, was titled Spiritual Guards. Searching for Utopia was the title of the bronze sculpture placed in Piazza della Signoria depicting a tortoise ridden by a self-portrait of the artist.

Jan Fabre in 2016 in Piazza della Signoria

We arrive in September 2017 with Big Clay #4, the monumental sculpture that landed in Piazza della Signoria, which bore the signature of Urs Fischer. The work, already exhibited in New York but for the first time in Europe, is a large metal sculpture 12 meters high that towered in front of the Tower of Arnolfo, whose forms had simultaneously something primordial and childlike: a monument to the simplicity and primordiality of the human gesture that shapes form, the enlargement of small pieces of clay modeled by the artist in his studio. A monument to manual dexterity and to the simplest and most everyday creative action.

Urs Fischer in 2017 in Piazza della Signoria

The Swiss artist was the second protagonist of the new edition of In Florence, an event of contemporary art that returns two years after the exhibition of Jeff Koons, conceived by Fabrizio Moretti and Sergio Risaliti, in conjunction with the 30th International Antiques Biennale. 

In addition to the imposing aluminum sculpture, two smaller works placed on the Arengario of Palazzo Vecchio, between the reproduction of Michelangelo's David and that of Donatello's Judith and Holofernes. These are 2 Tuscan Men, two human figures made of wax, Fabrizio and Francesco, representing Fabrizio Moretti and Francesco Bonami, creator and curator of the project. 

The last protagonist of the setting of Piazza della Signoria before Vezzoli was Giuseppe Penone with his maxi fir tree. Visible until October 3, it is the largest installation ever exhibited in a public space in Florence, 22 meters of cast stainless steel for the trunk, and bronze for the bamboo canes that rest, light and resistant, on the branches.

Abete by Giuseppe Penone in 2021 in Piazza della Signoria

Francesco Vezzoli's sculpture arrived on 2 October. A monumental twentieth-century lion rampant, installed on an ancient plinth, crushing a Roman head from the second century AD in its jaws.

Leone rampante di Francesco Vezzoli

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