Francesco Vezzoli arrives in Piazza della Signoria
A rampant lion in front of Palazzo Vecchio and a metaphysical sculpture in the Studiolo di Francesco I. Who is the artist who conquers Florence.
With two new sculptures in Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, from 2 October 2021 Francesco Vezzoli will be the protagonist of Francesco Vezzoli in Florence, curated by Cristiana Perrella and Sergio Risaliti.
After his exhibition in 2014, Francesco Vezzoli returns to the city, tackling its most symbolic places. In Piazza della Signoria, a monumental twentieth-century lion rampant, installed on an ancient base, crushes a Roman head from the second century AD in its jaws. Together with the intervention in the square, the project includes a second sculpture, positioned inside the Studiolo di Francesco I de' Medici in Palazzo Vecchio: a "metaphysical" bronze head is grafted onto a figure of a Roman togato, quoting De Chirico's The Archaeologists, one of the works that best represents the recovery of classicism in the modern era.
Who is the artist that Florence is celebrating with a monumental statue in front of Palazzo Vecchio? The same one who a few months ago signed the Pre-Raphaelite cover of the hit song Mille and portrayed Ferragni as a Madonna by Antonello da Messina.
Born in Brescia in 1971, Francesco Vezzoli lives between Milan and New York. He studied from 1992 to 1995 at Central St. Martin's School of Art in London. An eclectic, refined and glamorous artist, he has had exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Castello di Rivoli and the Prada Foundation in Milan. But also at the Tate Modern in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Kunsthalle in Vienna. In 2013 he had three solo shows at MAXXI in Rome, MoMA PS1 in New York and Moca in Los Angeles. The project was entitled The Trinity.
Vezzoli uses different media: video, photography, sculpture .
In 2005, he presented himself at the Venice Biennale with a video, Trailer for a remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula. It was a reinterpretation of the film Io Caligola by Tinto Brass, in which Milla Jovovich and Benicio del Toro appeared. The costumes were by Donatella Versace. At MOCA - Museum of Contemporary art in Los Angeles in 2010, Lady Gaga joined Vezzoli in a performance art piece filmed by Jonas Åkerlund. For this occasion Damien Hirst decorated the singer's piano and Miuccia Prada designed the clothes.
The most identifying remains crochet, with which he embroiders golden or blood-coloured tears on images depicting popular film icons that are best loved. In 2017, he presented TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli looks at Rai at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, which traces the rich television production of the 1970s. Among the works in this exhibition are embroideries executed on reproductions of feminist posters of the time.
Another fundamental stylistic feature of Francesco Vezzoli is the exaltation and celebration of Italian cultural identity and the centrality of classical statuary, as the Florentine works tell us. These works are both quotations and inventions, as in La nuova dolce vita (From the triumph of Paolina Borghese to Eva Mendes) or Self Portrait as Apollo del Belvedere's (Lover), 2011. Interviewed by L'Officiel Arte, he said: "We are capable of producing our own intellectual identity and, moreover, we have an incredible heritage: this is not sovereignty but cultural justice. This is not sovereignty but cultural justice. Now the great moment must come, not of revenge, but of equalisation, of inclusion in a cultural debate that puts Fontana and Pollock on the same level.