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contemporary fountain artwork
Photo © Benedetta Perissi
Photo © Benedetta Perissi

Contemporary art in Florence

Beyond the Renaissance, the City of the Giglio hosts unexpected works of art from the contemporary world within its urban fabric

Known throughout the world for its Renaissance heritage, Florence is the custodian of infinite artistic beauties bequeathed by a distant past. The city, however, is also dotted with works of art that bear aesthetic features, techniques and approaches from more recent times, ranging from painting, architecture, sculpture and photography and even embracing contemporary figurative art in all its complexities, harmoniously incorporating it into the distant, valuable, fascinating historical context for which the city is famous. A perfect journey into the art of the past and the present that looks to the future, here's where to be amazed by the ever-increasing contemporary artistic vocation of the City of the Giglio.

  • 1.
  • 2.
    Art galleries
  • 3.
    Architectural works
  • 4.
    Open air art


Historic Florentine building
Palazzo Strozzi - Credit: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi

Housed in exceptional historic buildings, there are many museums devoted to 20th and 21st century art. An example is Forte Belvedere which often hosts exhibitions of contemporary artists and photographers, as well as offering a spectacular terrace that overlooks the city.
Our overview starts from Museo Novecento, located in the historic Spedale delle Leopoldine in the central piazza of Santa Maria Novella, and continues to the Marino Marini Museum, named after one of the greatest artists of the last century. The Casamonti Collection showcases works ranging from the 1960s to the early 21st century (by artists such as Boetti in Schifano, from Mirò to Basquiat) and the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation in the La Strozzina center that's dedicated to thematic exhibition projects.

Not only that: even fashion becomes an object of art. The Ferragamo Museum and Gucci Museum retrace the stories of the famous fashion houses by exhibiting their creations that are true works of contemporary art.

Exhibition spaces with permanent collections, displays and shows pay homage to contemporary art in the historic centre of Florence.

Art galleries

Nanni Balestrini - Galleria Frittelli
Nanni Balestrini - Galleria Frittelli - Credit: C. D'Aliasi

The Frittelli Gallery, the Studio Iguarnieri Art Gallery, the 360 Gallery, Tornabuoni Arte and Eduardo Secci Contemporary are just some of the many galleries in the center and in the Florentine suburbs that set up temporary exhibitions of national and international artists. While the Thetys Gallery and the Ad Gallery, located in the metropolitan area of Florence, focus their artistic attention on contemporary photography.

Architectural works

contemporary architectural work
Palazzo di giustizia - Credit: Benedetta Perissi

Examples of contemporary architecture of great historical value include the municipal stadium of Florence, the Artemio Franchi, designed by the engineer Pier Luigi Nervi and inaugurated in the 1930s, the multifunctional and cultural space of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino designed by architect Paolo Desideri, the State Archives worked on by the renowned architect Italo Gamberini, and the RAI headquarters.

To these are can also add the Santa Maria Novella station and the church of San Giovanni Battista at the gates of Florence, both well-known creations by Pistoian Giovanni Michelucci, and the imposing complex of the Palazzo di Giustizia in the Novoli district, designed by the architect Leonardo Ricci.

Open air art

fountain with contemporary art statue
Rose garden - Credit: Benedetta Perissi

Every corner of the City of the Giglio can be transformed into a wonderful journey.

Strolling among the structured paths of the Boboli Gardens, the Tindaro Screpolato, the colossal face of the Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj, is bound to catch your eye. While enjoying the spring blooms of the Rose Garden next to Piazzale Michelangelo, you can admire the works of Jean-Michel Folon who made the park a veritable window on art. In front of Porta Romana (the one located further south) in the middle of the roundabout stands the mammoth Dietrofront sculpture by the Piedmontese artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. In southern Florence, two and a half hectares of greenery lapped by the Arno host the Enzo Pazzagli Art Park, an area with over 250 works where you can also relax with a picnic.

Sometimes the walls of modern buildings are transformed from an architectural element into a canvas, making Florence an open-air exhibition space for street art works such as the large mural dedicated to Gramsci by Jorit in the Isolotto area. The same artist also created the face of Nelson Mandela in Piazza Leopoldo. Street art can be found in the streets of the city with works by Exit Enter and Blub, and even road signs are rendered into ironic contemporary art paintings with the sticker art by the eclectic Clet Abraham.

Florence is a treasure trove of contemporary artworks to be appreciated while surrounded by centuries-old walls, strolling through the streets and magnificent stately buildings in an urban journey to discover the artistic beauty that represents our era and that of the more recent past.

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