Jenny Saville talks to the great masters of the Renaissance in Florence
One of the greatest living painters from 30 September at the Museo Novecento and in the city's major museums
From 30 September 2021 to 20 February 2022 Jenny Saville will be the protagonist of an exhibition project conceived and curated by Sergio Risaliti, Director of the Museo Novecento, in collaboration with some of the city's major museums: Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Museo degli Innocenti and Museo di Casa Buonarroti. The exhibition stages a wonderful dialogue between the ancient and the contemporary and presents Jenny Saville's work through a retrospective approach, with paintings and drawings from the 1990s and works created especially for the exhibition.
Like no other contemporary artist, Saville places the human figure, whether face or body, at the centre of her work and establishes a close dialogue with the great European pictorial tradition in constant comparison with the modernism of Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly and the portraiture of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.
The Florence exhibition outlines the strong correlation between Jenny Saville and the masters of the Italian Renaissance, in particular with some of the great masterpieces of Michelangelo
In the rooms of the Museo Novecento, on the ground and first floors, a conspicuous series of paintings and drawings will be exhibited, about a hundred works in medium and large formats covering a wide span of time from the early 2000s to the last few months. In the museum's external loggia, a window overlooking the square will be opened to make visible both by day and by night a large-format painting exhibited above the altar inside the former church of the Spedale, a monumental portrait of Rosetta II (2000-06), a young blind woman known to the artist and portrayed as a blind singer or a mystic in ecstatic concentration. A comparison strongly desired and sought after by the museum director with Giotto's wooden Crucifix suspended in the centre of the nave of Santa Maria Novella, clearly visible from outside the churchyard when the portal of the Dominican basilica is open.
In the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, the most resonant monumental work, Fulcrum (1998-99), is on display. Saville's large painting enters into a dialectical antithesis with the masterpieces gathered in the sublime setting of the Salone delle Battaglie, so called because of the frescoes painted by Vasari and his school to celebrate the Florentines' victories against their adversaries.
Saville's passionate and engaging dialogue with Michelangelo's works and iconography reaches its acme at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. Here, in the room where the Pietà Bandini is kept, a large-format drawing - about three metres high - will be exhibited, which the London artist began to work on after a visit to Florence two years ago: Study for Pietà (2021), where the actors of Michelangelo's work are transformed into contemporary characters with the same poignant emotional charge.
In the rooms of Casa Buonarroti, Jenny Saville's drawings Study for Pietà I (2021) and Mother and Child Study II (2009) present a conscious and by no means anodyne homage to Michelangelo's drawings and sketches (1517-1520). However, with paintings such as Aleppo (2017-18) and Compass (2013), there is no lack of themes dear to Saville's poetics, so tenaciously linked to the contemporary.