Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Art exhibitions to see in Florence in 2015

Updated October 2015

If you’re planning a return trip to Florence, Italy in 2015, or if you’re here for a longer period, you’ll be interested in seeing some of the temporary exhibitions that the city has to offer, rather than its many permanent collections. For 2015, there is the usual “Un Anno ad Arte” (a year in art) series offered by the state museums, as well as a series of shows that connect to the Expo 2015 theme of “feed the planet”. In addition, Palazzo Strozzi offers its two annual shows – one early modern, one modern.

MUSEUM WORLD NEWS: Meanwhile, 2015 in Florence sees changes at the helm of museums, so 2016’s temporary exhibitions may look very different. The Polo Museale Fiorentino is being dismantled and a “super manager” will be hired to run the Uffizi, Accademia and Bargello as per the reform announced last summer; Cristina Acidini stepped down from her position of superintendent last September. The managerial jobs were listed in the Economist and the new managers were announced in August (read my article here). At Palazzo Strozzi, James Bradburne’s 8-year term as director has come to an end and he has won a position at Milan’s Brera museum; Arturo Galansino, previously curator at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, takes his role at the Strozzi.

2015 exhibits in Florence in chronological order

Gherardo delle Notti. Most bizarre paintings and merry suppers
10 February – 24 May, Galleria degli Uffizi

Gherardo delle Notti, Cena con suonatore di liuto, olio su tela, Firenze,Galleria degli Uffizi

Gherardo delle Notti, Cena con suonatore di liuto, olio su tela, Firenze,Galleria degli Uffizi

At the Uffizi, an exhibit that explores the influence of Gerrit Honthorst from Utrecht, known as Gherardo delle Notti due to his talent for depicting nocturnes lit by oil lamps and candles, in Italy in the early 17th century. Given enthusiastic reception in Florence, the Medici purchased four of his large canvases for their collections.  The work of Gerrit will be set alongside that of other painters from the Low Countries who also devoted their careers to exploring the rendering of light.

Watch my video review

Klas Eriksson / Be Andre: Transformative Limits
Jan 17 – March 21, 2015

klas-eriksson-detail

Detail of painting by Klas Eriksson

At Eduardo Secci Contemporary (Via Maggio 51r), two Scandinavian artists, Be Andr (Norway) and Klas Eriksson (Sweden), are compared in the show called “Transformative Limits”. The two artists’ works are very different: Be Andre’s minimalist works play with letters, while Klas Eriksson makes a big “casino” with coloured smoke bombs. But the curator of the exhibit found that they have things in common in their working methods. Read my review here.

 

Sweet Subtleties: Sugar sculptures at the Medici table / Dolci Trionfi, Sculture in zucchero
10 March – 7 June 2015, Galleria Palatina, Pitti Palace

Dolci Trionfi

Dolci Trionfi

The exhibition of “decorative food” designed to emulate real works of art takes its cue from a banquet held in Palazzo Vecchio in the evening of 5 October 1600 to mark the Florentine wedding of Marie de’ Medici with King Henri IV of France. Read my report and watch my video review on The Florentine.

 

Van Gogh Alive
Church of Santo Stefano al Ponte, From February until April 12, 2015

A surprise exhibit this Spring (in that they didn’t send out press information and nobody saw it coming) is a traveling sound and light installation on the topic of Van Gogh. Reviews are mixed, though most say that the immersive experience is perfect for people who don’t know much about art. My take: 12 euro is a bit much for a show with no original art. For info see www.vangoghalive.it

Power and Pathos: Bronzes of the Hellenistic World
14 March – 21 June 2015, Palazzo Strozzi

Using outstanding examples of large-scale bronze sculptures, the exhibition sets out to explore the development of art in the Hellenistic age as it spread from Greece throughout the Mediterranean between the 4th and 1st centuries BC. The use of bronze allowed artists to impart an unprecedented level of dynamism to their full-figure statues and of naturalism to their portraits, where psychological expression became a hallmark of the style. The exhibit will then move to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. (Get the catalogue)

 

The Middle Ages on the Road
20 March – 21 June, Museo Nazionale del Bargello

Visione di un porto, pagina miniata dal Codice Cocarelli, nord Italia o Mar Nero, fine del XIV secolo, pergamena dipinta con acquarelli, Firenze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello

Visione di un porto, pagina miniata dal Codice Cocarelli, nord Italia o Mar Nero, fine del XIV secolo, pergamena dipinta con acquarelli, Firenze, Museo Nazionale del Bargello

This exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of Florence as the capital of Italy and of the Bargello’s inauguration as a museum. The Bargello will be joining several other European museums to present some of the loftiest aspects of medieval civilisation, taking its cue from the notion of travel as reality and as imagination to display a fascinating array of everyday items and works of art of the period.

 

Franciscan Art. Masterpieces of art and Asian lands from the 13th to the 15th centuries
30 March – 31 October, Galleria dell’Accademia

Bartolomeo della Gatta, San Francesco riceve le stimmate, Castiglion Fiorentino, Pinacoteca Comunale

Bartolomeo della Gatta, San Francesco riceve le stimmate, Castiglion Fiorentino, Pinacoteca Comunale

This exhibition explores the important influence of the Franciscan movement’s contribution to art and religion as it spread like wildfire to the East and as far afield as China itself.

 

The Illusion of Sciltian
April 3 to September 6 2015, Villa Bardini (Costa San Giorgio 2)

Gregorio Sciltian (Rostov 1898 – Roma 1985) is a Russian born naturalized Italian modernist painter.

 

Even sculutres die
April 17 to July 26, Strozzina contemporary art gallery at Palazzo Strozzi

Dead sculptures?

Dead sculptures?

A collective exhibit of 12 international and Italian artists to forge a reflection on the meaning, the potential and the new experimental approaches in sculpture today.

 

A Gentleman’s Board
1 May – 31 October 2015, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Sala degli Avori [Ivory Room]

Signori a Tavola

Signori a Tavola

A long 16th century refectory table – located in its original position in the Ivory Room – will be set with a selection of period pieces to recreate a richly laid Renaissance banqueting table.
Hero a Firenze. Omaggio al David: Saracino interpreta Michelangelo
May 5 – September 20, Accademia Gallery

Hero Firenze

Hero Firenze

Pugliese-born and New York-residing designer and architect Antonio Pio Saracino reinterprets Michelangelo’s David with a sculpture in marble of the same height (5,17 meters) but that is a kind of decomposition of the original, a computerized slicing. A smaller version of the work was previously displayed in New York at Three Bryant Park. “Hero,” addressing Michelangelo’s “David,” which has been selected to represent the Italian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 as an historic symbol of Italian excellence, is being promoted by the Accademia Gallery in Florence, the Italian Embassy in Washington DC and PMG Italia.

Saracino states, “I never would have expected, two years later, to receive the great honor to see a new edition of “Hero” in the Accademia of Florence, in the same place as Michelangelo’s “David.” With the New York “Hero,” I wanted to create a symbolic protector of New York City, as “David” was intended as protector of Florence. The statue celebrates the superhuman and the inspiration that it channels. The anthropomorphic layered architectural constructions display the universal ability of mankind to cement its own presence in the world with its perennial construction skills.”

 

Lynn Chadwick : retrospective for two gardens
May 9 to August 30, 2015, Boboli and Bardini Gardens

Lynn Chadwick

Lynn Chadwick

23 sculptures in the historic gardens, by a UK artist whose works are on display at world-renowned museums like the MOMA, Tate and Pompidou.

 

Antony Gormley, Human
April 26 – 27 September 2015, Forte di Belvedere

The exhibition on the back of the Fortress

The exhibition on the back of the Fortress

One of the most important contemporary artists of our time, Antony Gormley’s installation in Florence consists of 103 life-size forms: 60 casts of the artist’s own body, and 43 of his “blockworks”. Read my analysis and review here.

 

Sun in the Home
8 May – 7 September 2015, Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

Sun in the House

Sun in the House

An exhibition of ceramic items in Italy from the 17th to the 21st centuries for everyday domestic use. The decoration is both extremely fine and astonishingly creative thanks to the skill and know-how of the artists and craftsmen who produced these objects.

 

Lapis Lazuli. Blue Magic
9 June – 11 October, Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti

Grand ducal manufacture (Cristofano Gaffurri to a design by Jacopo Ligozzi), Table top with a view of the port of Leghorn, 1601–4, semi-precious stone inlay, Florence, Uffizi Gallery

Grand ducal manufacture (Cristofano Gaffurri to a design by Jacopo Ligozzi), Table top with a view of the port of Leghorn, 1601–4, semi-precious stone inlay, Florence, Uffizi Gallery

The exhibition at the Museo degli Argenti will be devoted to lapis lazuli, a topic which proved to be of interest to artists throughout Europe and even further afield.  A stone frequently imported from the heart of Asia, lapis lazuli not only played a role in the creation of splendid and valuable objets d’art but also served, after being ground to a powder, to provide painters with what, together with gold, was unquestionably the most regal and costly of pigments.

 

Piero di Cosimo (1462–1522)
22 June – 27 September, Galleria degli Uffizi

 Piero di Cosimo, Perseus and Andromeda, detail,Florence, Uffizi Gallery

Piero di Cosimo, Perseus and Andromeda, detail,Florence, Uffizi Gallery

The curators define Piero di Cosimo as a brilliant but “eccentric “Florentine” painter, from the Renaissance to the Modern Manner”.

 

Carlo Dolci
30 June – 15 November, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti

Carlo Dolci, The Martyrdom of St. Andrew, 1646, Florence, Galleria Palatina

Carlo Dolci, The Martyrdom of St. Andrew, 1646, Florence, Galleria Palatina

With Carlo Dolci we enter the artistic and religious life of the Florentine court at the height of the 17th century, which was dominated by Grand Duchess Vittoria Della Rovere.  The polished beauty of Dolci’s painting, immersed in a translucent light reminiscent of the mineral splendour of semi-precious stone inlay work, served to produce delicate religious images and exquisitely painted floral still-lifes that earned him admiration and popularity in his own day.

 

Divine beauty. Sacred art from Gauguin to Fontana
26 September 2015 – 24 January 2016, Palazzo Strozzi

Modern religious art from the 1880s to 1958, with loans from the state museums, the archdiocese of Florence and the Vatican, is the topic of this thematic show. Extremely well-known works observed in a new light are displayed alongside pieces by artists whose work is perhaps less well-known today but who, in their own way, have helped to forge the rich and complex panorama of modern art; and this, not only in a religious environment. Read my REVIEW in The Florentine.

 

The Prince of Dreams: Joseph in the Medici Tapestries of Bronzino and Pontormo
September 15 2015 to February 15 2016, Sala del Dugento, Palazzo Vecchio

A once in a lifetime opportunity to see this tapestry series all reunited – the commission of Cosimo I was broken up at the Unification of Italy.

 

Jeff Koons in Florence
September 26 2015 to Jan 21, 2016

Koons, Pluto and Proserpina outside Palazzo Vecchio

Koons, Pluto and Proserpina outside Palazzo Vecchio

Two works by the American contemporary artist Jeff Koons – Pluto and Proserpina and Gazing Ball – have been installed at Palazzo Vecchio. The display has been controversial as some see the relationship to the Renaissance works with which Koons dialogues, others see it as an offense to the historical city.

 

 

Florence, Capital City 1865–2015: The king’s gifts and collections
19 November – 3 April 2016, Galleria d’arte moderna, Palazzo Pitti

P. Saltini, Simon Memmi commissioned by Petrarch to portray Laura, 1863, Florence, Galleria Palatina di Palazzo Pitti

P. Saltini, Simon Memmi commissioned by Petrarch to portray Laura, 1863, Florence, Galleria Palatina di Palazzo Pitti

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Florence’s designation as the capital of a newly united Italy, the exhibition is devoted principally to the works of art and furnishings acquired by King Victor Emmanuel II for his sumptuous Florentine residence in Palazzo Pitti during the years that he spent in the city.

 

Gran Ballo a Palazzo Pitti 
28 November 2015 – Feb 2016

An exhibit to be held in the Salone da ballo of Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, that will celebrate and evoke the royal ball held here on November 28, 1865. The exhibit will include period clothing, musical notes, documents and dance cards in a collaboration between the Biblioteca Nazionale and the museums of Palazzo Pitti. Dance music of the time will be playing throughout.

 

Carlo Portelli: A painter of some worth
14 December 2015 – 17 April 2016, Galleria dell’Accademia, Palazzo Pitti

Carlo Portelli, The Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist, Private collection

Carlo Portelli, The Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist, Private collection

The exhibition devoted to Carlo Portelli, is another monographic show about a lesser known artist, and another eccentric Florentine painter at the height of the 16th century. This Mannerist tirelessly searched for refined yet complex elegance, crowding numerous figures into paintings, and using bold foreshortening.

Portelli, Immaculate Conception

Portelli, Immaculate Conception

 

Il Rigore e la Grazia – La compagnia di San Benedetto Bianco nel Seicento Fiorentino
October 23 2015 to May 17 2016, Capella Palatina, Museo degli Argenti, Pitti Palace

A rare opportunity to see the Palatine Chapel and adjacent rooms in an exhibit dedicated to a 17th century confraternity.

 

ArtSmart Roundtable

This post is part of a monthly series of topical blog posts by art bloggers in different fields. The topic this month is “art to see in 2015”. While mine focuses on Florence, you’ll find my colleagues posts about other areas to be most interesting – please check them out.

 

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • http://girlinflorence.com/ Georgette Jupe

    Fantastic Alexandra, I was looking for something like this for a new post I am writing so I will definitely be mentioning this. I really want to check out the ‘Middle Ages on the Road’, shall we visit it together and make a ‘date’ out of it :)

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thanks G! Sure, let’s go to the press conference together :) That’s how I manage to see all these things!
    AMK

  • Nicole

    Well at least I won’t be missing too much not getting to Florence this year. I’m with you – none them grabbed me either except maybe the Hellenistic bronzes, which is conveniently coming here! Thanks for sharing the thorough info, though. I’m sure sure you’ll find plenty of beauty in 2015!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hah, well put :)

  • Murissa

    The Middle Ages on the Road sounds interesting to me. But not enough to bring me over the pond in 2015. On the other hand I am hoping to return in 2016 to honour the tickets I received in exchange for my donation to the Pazzi Chapel Loggia.

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hi Murissa
    I agree, I’ll see that show because I’m here and get in free, but I can’t imagine getting on a plane for it. When you do come to see the newly restored pazzi chapel, we must get together! I just found out that they will start the work next Monday!
    Cheers
    Alexandra

  • Alexandra Lawrence

    Nice roundup, AMK, thank you. I think several of them sound great–I adore Piero di Cosimo, so I am especially pleased to see him getting some attention. The ones centered around food and the table also appeal to me. Will definitely be using this list to plan some TF Walks + Visits!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hey Alex – you’re right, the sugar sculptures one sounds interesting! Maybe I’ll come on some of your walks :)

  • http://phyllthis.wordpress.com Phyllis Fang

    Italian Kitchen! Sounds delicious :)
    Wonderful roundup

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Thank you Phyllis!