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contemporary fountain artwork
Photo © Benedetta Perissi
Photo © Benedetta Perissi

Contemporary art in Florence

Besides the Renaissance, the City of the Lily hosts unexpected contemporary works of art 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 Lily.

Contents
  • 1.
    Museums
  • 2.
    Art galleries
  • 3.
    Architectural works
  • 4.
    Open-air art
  • 5.
    Murales

Museums

Ferragamo Museum
Ferragamo Museum - 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 overlooking the city. To be mentioned are the shows of Zhang Huan, Giuseppe Penone, Antony Gormley, Jan Fabre and YTALIA.

The Museo Novecento is an immersive space dedicated to Italian art of the first half of the 20th century and hosts, in addition to a permanent collection, exhibitions and exhibition cycles, installations and special projects.
It is located in the historic Spedale delle Leopoldine in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

The Marino Marini Museum, named after one of the greatest artists of the last century, is housed inside the evocative spaces of the former church of San Pancrazio - founded before the year 1000 - and preserves 180 works of the artist from Pistoia.

The Casamonti Collection is one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in Italy and hosts works of artists such as Boetti, Schifano, Mirò and Basquiat and the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation devotes space to thematic exhibition projects and major international cultural events.

In addition to art, fashion also is the protagonist in Florentine cultural life: the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum is a museum housed in the historic seat of Palazzo Spini Ferroni, and its aim is spreading the history of the brand and its influence on the international fashion world.

The Gucci Museum - better known as Gucci Garden - is a permanent exhibition of the Gucci archives, on a 100-year journey: retracing some of the milestones of the fashion house, it is possible to admire historical advertising campaigns, craftsmanship and vintage objects that have become true icons in the history of fashion.

Art galleries

A work by Nanni Balestrini at Frittelli Gallery
A work by Nanni Balestrini at Frittelli Gallery - 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.
The Street Levels Gallery is a space dedicated to exploring the relationship between street art and the public and is the first urban art gallery in Florence. Here artists interact with the urban fabric of Florence in a continuous mutual exchange.

Architectural works

contemporary architectural work
Palace of Justice - Credit: Benedetta Perissi

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

In addition to these are the Santa Maria Novella station and the church of San Giovanni Battista at the gates of Florence, both well-known creations by Giovanni Michelucci of Pistoia, and the imposing complex of Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) in the Novoli district, designed by architect Leonardo Ricci.

Open-air art

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

Every corner of the City of the Lily 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. Whereas in front of Porta Romana (the one located further south) in the middle of the roundabout stands the colossal Dietrofront sculpture by 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.

Murales

Jorit - Nelson Mandela
Jorit - Nelson Mandela

Sometimes the walls of modern buildings are transformed from an architectural element into canvas, making Florence an open-air exhibition space for street art works.

The large mural dedicated to Gramsci by Jorit in the Isolotto area is a perfect example of this art.
The same artist also created the face of Nelson Mandela in Piazza Leopoldo.

Also in the Isolotto district, in the square, Fabio Petani has created a mural that, representing flowers, trees and blooming plants, aims to raise awareness of the environment, nature and floral varieties in the area.

In the Galluzzo neighborhood, Francisco Bosoletti has created the large mural dedicated to Dante: the work occupies six facades of public housing and represents life as a continuous conflict between life and death.

Finally, the Alfabeto Urbano (Urban Alphabet), is a project promoted by the City of Florence to enhance the newsstands and kiosks in the area of the city of Florence: alphabet, word, signs such as the dot, exclamation mark or question mark are the driving themes for the works; the colors chosen are the traditional colors of the city and the artists involved are Corn79, Reser LL, Luca Font, Duke1, Sera Knm, Bue2530, Droste, Mrfijodor, Urto. Here are all the newsstands and kiosks that participate to the project.

Street art can be found also in the alleys of the city with works by Exit Enter and Blub, and on road signs 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 ancient walls, strolling through its streets and magnificent stately buildings in an urban journey to discover the artistic beauty that represents our era and the more recent past.

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