A Historical Photo Show of the Central Market

Photo of the outdoor market in the Piazza del Mercato Centrale in the 1980s before it moved upstairs, to the venue of the present food court

View Florence through the eyes of someone who’s captured the city’s authentic community in Kathleen Knippel’s photography exhibition at the San Lorenzo Central Market.

“The Square and its Market” show is free and will be up until July 10. The exhibition spans from the windows of Brilli Pet Boutique to many other shops in the Central Market for a total of 18 displays.

Taken in the early seventies, the photos on display captured Knippel’s first impressions when she came to Italy of the Central Market and its square, which then hosted fruit and vegetable vendors.

She is able to capture snapshots in time, allowing viewers to imagine exactly what it would’ve been like had they walked through the market years ago. The candidness of her photos contribute to this experience, and although several of the images feature smiling faces, they are in no way posed.

Her photographs depict the smiling faces of shop owners, butchers and artisans as they go about their daily lives. While her shots are black and white, this does nothing to affect the innate liveliness and energy of the subjects themselves.

In addition to photography, Knippel is also a textile artist, and gathers inspiration from the photos she has taken in the streets of Florence. Her textile work is also presented in the exhibit, and includes vibrant colors that are able to reflect the vivacity within the photos, embodying her unique design, craftsmanship and art.

Knippel is inspired by Florence and her creations beautifully represent the city, its buildings and squares.

Because the exhibition is not in a singular space, one is able to embark on what feels like a journey through time as they weave in and out of different shops and through the central market to see the various images.

Knippel moved to Florence from California as a young artist, and with Tamio Fujimura, she founded Studio Fuji, a school of jewellery and textile design. It then collaborated with various American universities, where Knippel taught screen printing, batik, weaving, and other printing techniques.

Knippel initially viewed photography as something that just ran in her family, and then became enamored with the way photos could encapsulate the people and sense of community in Florence.

She especially loved the tradition of the artisan shops, which have been a staple of the San Lorenzo market since its beginnings in the late 1800s.

Things have changed, Knippel admitted, but the spirit of Florence that she fell in love with years ago remains. (natasha sokoloff)