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September 24, 2015

Jeff Koons in Florence

The coming fall’s most eagerly-awaited exhibition devoted to Jeff Koons in Florence, the home of Renaissance art

Jeff Koons in Florence. Without a doubt one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year. The comparison between the provocative beauty of the works by Jeff Koons, one of the leading artists of the past few decades, and the Renaissance works.

The locations chosen for this dialogue are the Sala dei Gigli in Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza Signoria. This is the first time Italy sees the series of works that the artist calls Gazing Ball. These are plaster casts of famous sculptures from the Greek-Roman period, such as the so-called Barberini Faun, to which the artist has added, balanced precariously, a bright blue, mirror-surfaced sphere

For the Florence exhibition, the works are installed following specific scientific and cultural criteria in historical environments, to enhance the interaction-comparison between the Renaissance and contemporary idioms, between the iconography of yesterday and today.

In this sense, it explains the choice of installing the Faun in the Sala dei Gigli. It is a luxurious environment, decorated with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, and a mock wall ‘carpet’ embellished with golden lilies. The room also houses the original bronze Judith and Holofernes by Donatello, one of the most fascinating and significant sculptures of the fifteenth century. In front of the bronze Donatello - Judith relentlessly punishing Holofernes, who is numbed by the beauty of the virginal young heroine, then weakened by wine - the Barberini Faun by Koons is presented to the public in its provocative poses, an example of beauty that is never vulgar, although pushed to the limit of the obscene.  

Finally, in Piazza della Signoria, not far from the marble copy of the David by Michelangelo, one of the most famous sculptures by Koons, Pluto and Proserpina, is exhibited. It is monumental, almost four meters high, stainless steel, polished to reflect like a mirror and chromed in a gold tone. The two figures, entwined in a sensual embrace, sparkle in the atmospheric light in striking contrast to the Renaissance sculptures in the piazza. The mirrored surface absorbs, capture and liquefy the surrounding space, with effects of dazzling splendour and virtuoso deformation. With Pluto and Proserpina, Koons makes an exact copy of the famous work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Rape of Proserpina, commissioned by Scipione Borghese, was executed between 1621 and 1622. 

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