Prato is known as much for its dedication to modern and contemporary art as for its medieval past. A guided tour through the city's outdoor masterpieces is an interesting and unusual way to explore the town. This path leads you from the works of Giò Pomodoro, Mauro Staccioli and Henry Moore to the outdoor museum at Luicciana.
Beginning at Prato's Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art, Tuscany's premiere location for the exhibition and promotion of contemporary art, the tour starts with the museum's outdoor sculpture garden which includes Enzo Cucchi's marble La Concha and Matteucci's iron Reflection of the Cosmic Order, to the imposing Broken Column by Anne and Patrick Poirier which has become - along with Moore's arch - one of the symbols of Prato. Also worth noting is Mauro Staccioli's sculpture Prato which serves to symbolically unite the highway entrance to the city with the museum; and Zenith, the ultra-dynamic bronze and travertine marble work of Mimmo Paladino. Another noteworthy piece is “The Beast,” created in bronze and travertine marble, from an ultra-dynamic model.
The Centre's garden also boasts fountains, including an aluminium work by Albert Hien which gives plastic form to the intellectual love of the Fountain of Youth. Two powerful silver towers of different dimensions, crowned by two plates, one of which pours water into the other. The twin placement of the sculpture brings distant memories of the "Sagrada Damiglia di Gaudi" which, melting into eachother, heralded Christological love. Also in the garden you’ll find a bronze sculpture by Roberto Barni, “Vacina” (2000), and in a space in front of the entrance to the ART Hotel Museo, you’ll find Athos Ongaro’s 1983-84 work, “Fountain,” which was presented at the Venice Biennale in 1984. It signifies the citationist artistic culture of the 1980s. Anne and Patrick Poirer’s marble sculpture, which was part of the set in the theatrical show Ella (1990), is located at the beginning of the route in the garden. It maintains its original surprising character and gains a new symbolic value through its “gaze” toward the museum’s exhibit rooms.
The Pecci is currently closed for expansion work, and a grand reopening is expected on October 16, 2016.
Heading toward the city centre brings you to Henry Moore's Square Form, the first major work of contemporary art which was commissioned for the city of Prato, located near Piazza San Marco near where the ancient walls opened for the gate to Florence. This work stands out among those, by now numerous, commissioned for this area. Thirty large blocks of marble, personally selected by Moore in the Apuane quarries, which the artist—one of the most important exponents of 20th century art—provides a sense of organic expansion animated by an internal force of the material. Don't miss Giò Pomodoro's Isla Nigra e Pablo Neruda located in the city gardens on Via Carlo Marx.
Winding through the area around Prato you will find a number of important fountains. At Montemurlo, in Piazza Libertà, the installation Liberty is Young was decorated by Tosco Andreini. Andreini decorated the back of the fountain with the installation "Liberty is young," which sings the praises of freedom as a value of every people and nation, and showcases its evolution, linked to generational changes. The itinerary finishes with visits to two open-air museums, the Quinto Martini Museum-Park in Seano, which conserves 35 bronze works by the sculptor installed among the hills of Carmignano; and the Open Air Museum at Luicciana, a small fraction of the town of Cantagallo. Luicciana, though tiny, is a true art town: it has installations taking shape in its gardens and around its houses, including murals on the facades of homes. Many painters, sculptors, graphic artists and ceramicists worked here over the years, making Luicciana a genuine jewel of contemporary art.