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October 14, 2019

The Long Season

uffizi Galleries Exhibitions, From the licentious Aretino and ironic Garzoni and the temptations of Bezzuoli

Bezzuoli, Aretino, Garzoni: these three names alone would be enough to mark Florence down in the agenda of must-sees. Between the upcoming fall and next summer, the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti offer a packed calendar of exhibitions, from the most curious to the lesser-known. All are must-sees, or almost.
As if wanting to rekindle a historic dispute, Schmidt brings us to the heart of Mannerism, contrasting two famed Arezzo natives: Pietro, who was born when Lorenzo the Magnificent died, and Giorgio Vasari, nearly 20 years younger, first a friend and later an adversary. This is largely because Aretino took it upon himself to criticize, famous for his Sonetti Lussuriosi, Michelangelo’s nudity in the Sistine Chapel. Their opinions continued to differ and Pietro Aretino and the Art of the Renaissance (Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana, November 26 to March 3) would seem to be the perfect occasion for a journey to Italy’s 16th-century courts and papal seats of Julius II, Leo X and Clement VII, with Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. Texts, tapestries, drawings and paintings present a comparison between the supremacy of Vasari’s drawings and the tonalism of Aretino, who had by then made his home in Venice.
“La grandezza del universo” di Giovanna Garzoni (Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, March 6 to June 7) is more than just a tribute to women in the arts. Known above all as a scientific illustrator, Garzoni was also an extensive traveler and acute observer of court life – an unusual thing for a 17th-century woman – recounting her observations through portraits as entertaining as they were ironic, ably blending with grace and precision oddities of the most varied places on earth with the prosperous life of the salons. Running concurrently, a key figure in 19th-century Italy is only now dedicated a solo exhibition: Giuseppe Bezzuoli (1789-1855). Un grande protagonista della pittura romantica (Uffizi, Aula Magliabechiana and Sala Detti, April 2 to July 31). Neoclassical but also rooted in the Risorgimento, Bezzuoli was one of the artists who was inspired by the past to depict the present. This was partly to rediscover Italy’s roots and partly because it wasn’t always possible to recount the facts and misdeeds of his present day without being censured. His artworks, including the celebrated Entry of Charles VIII of France into Florence and Eve Tempted by the Serpent, the latter recently restored by the Uffizi, demonstrate the great skill of this artist who taught at the Accademia, working with students like Fattori and Signorini as well as a series of foreign artists who came to Florence specifically to listen to his lessons; he inevitably crossed paths with Hayez and Ingres.
Past and present blend together. “It’s a way,” emphasizes Schmidt, “to meet the tastes of everyone.” And so, running until January 12 and overlapping with the International Antiques Fair, Forged in Fire. Bronze Sculpture in Florence Under the Last Medici (Pitti, Treasury of the Grand Dukes) offers a look at Baroque sculpture by Giambologna, Foggini and the able Soldani Benzi, among others, focusing on their preparatory work, like drawings and sketches. Concurrently, Heaven in a Room. Wooden ceilings in Renaissance Florence and Rome (Uffizi, Sala Detti and Sala del Camino, December 10 – March 8) presents a series of projects and sketches that offer an overview of the experiments conducted by artists like Sangallo and Zucchi. Decidedly contemporary art but which tips its hat at figurative art: Neo Rauch. Works from 2016 to 2019 (Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini, until January 12) is dedicated to the German artist who plays with colour to recount the torments of modern society. A truly unmissable show for the most curious visitors is Ai piedi degli dei. Le calzature dal mondo classico al contemporaneo (Pitti, Museum of Costume and Fashion, December 16 to April 19), dedicated to everything, and we mean everything, you ever wanted to know about shoes. The show will feature its fair share of surprises in this discovery of modern footwear alongside historic samples. 

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