The twelve new Uffizi rooms dedicated to Self-Portraits
A unique collection from the portraits of the painters Gaddo, Agnolo and Taddeo Gaddi to the present day with Bill Viola, Ai Weiwei, Fabrizio Plessi and Antony Gormley
A new and very valid reason to return to the Uffizi: on the first floor twelve new rooms dedicated to self-portraits and portraits of artists, from the 15th to the 21st century, including video artists and cartoonists. Here is our itinerary to discover the Uffizi.
Six hundred years of art history, an extraordinary project begun by Cardinal Leopold dei Medici, never interrupted over the centuries, and still fully operational. The Florentine museum possesses the largest, oldest and most important collection of self-portraits in the world: about 2000, including paintings, sculptures and drawings. The rooms of the new exhibition, on the first floor of the Gallery, are bright pink, an allusion to Cardinal Leopold's robes (his statue, by the great Baroque sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini, welcomes visitors in the first room), and are organised chronologically from the oldest portrait the 15th-century portrait by the painters Gaddo, Agnolo and Taddeo Gaddi, up to the last room, where we find the cast-iron sculpture by Antony Gormley, the self-portrait on a mirror by Michelangelo Pistoletto and the one made of plastic bricks by Ai Weiwei.
The itinerary, which offers a selection of over 250 works, including paintings, sculptures, installations and graphics, is an opportunity to let the great protagonists of art flow before your eyes: these include Andrea del Sarto, Federico Barocci, Luca Giordano, Rubens, Rembrandt, but also Francesco Hayez, Eugène Delacroix, Arnold Böcklin and Marino Marini. Video artist Bill Viola is present with an aquatic installation that immortalises him immersed in the waves, just as Fabrizio Plessi's concentrated face emerges from the water. Also on display for the first time is the self-portrait of a street artist, London-based Endless, who depicts himself together with the duo Gilbert & George.
After more than a century, the artists' self-portraits are thus exhibited for the first time within the Uffizi's normal visitor route. From 1973 to 2016, some of them had been installed in the Vasari Corridor, where they were, however, only visible within the restricted and occasional visits allowed in this space, which moreover lacks air conditioning. Many works have undergone major conservation work and can now be admired at their best.