Florence Art Week’s Exciting Exhibitions

A photo of Patti Smith (1986) by Robert Mapplethorpe

Florence Art Week returns for its third year beginning September 28 through October 8. Encompassing 29 cultural institutions, 44 events, 32 venues, and 11 days of programming, this showcase is a celebration of Florence’s rich historical and contemporary art. Below are a selection of the many exhibitions featured in this year’s Art Week.

The inauguration of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Beauty and Desire, a display curated by Sergio Risaliti, Eva Francioli, and Muriel Prandato in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Alinari Foundation at Museo Novecento of 20th and 21st Century Art, was the prelude to Florence Art Week. The exhibition pays homage to the famous photographer from New York in a comparison with the work of Wilhelm von Gloeden and the Alinari Archive. Mapplethorpe’s influential artistic production featured in Beauty and Desire is available to visit until February 14, 2023.

The week officially begins on September 28 with the opening exhibition of Cavalcata Fantastica at Palazzo Medici Riccardi. This project, curated by Eva Francioli and Sergio Risaliti, the director of Museo Novecento, presents the work of Fortunato Depero (1892 – 1962). One of the most innovative figures of the Futurist movement, Depero’s multifaceted work fuses art and reality and continues to influence generations of artists. The exhibition will begin with his well-known painting Nitrito in velocità (1932), which has been preserved at Museo Novecento, highlighting his unique production and the the subtle connection between his work and the Florence area. Open until January 28, 2024.

Florence Art Week continues on September 30 with Temptations, Torments, Trials, and Tribulations, an exhibition displaying the unpublished works of Cecily Brown, curated by Sergio Risaliti, and on display at Museo Novecento. Brown, a painter born in London in 1969, has reinvented the relationship between the history of art and contemporary art, creating abstract and expressive work. Her vibrant paintings were partly inspired by The Torment of Saint Anthony by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The exhibition continues with a showing of a new work inside Camerino di Bianca Cappello at Palazzo Vecchio. Open until February 4, 2024.

On October 4, the Marino Marini Museum will present the third edition of the exhibition Andature, a reflection on the passing of time featuring paintings by Helene Appel and drawings by Eva Marisaldi. Appel’s minimalist, photorealistic paintings contrast with Marisaldi’s drawings that focus on the hidden parts of our daily lives to create an interesting dialogue between these two artists of different generations. The installation was curated by Marcella Cangioli and Antonella Nicola in collaboration with the cultural association Firenze Citta’ Nascosta. Open until December 24, 2023.

The following day, Museo Novecento will inaugurate Endo, an exhibition by Namsal Siedlecki, curated by Sergio Risaliti and Stefania Rispoli. Siedlecki, an American artist born in 1986, investigates the infinitely transformative nature of materials through his structural practice, combining craftsmanship with modern technologies. Endo is a site-specific installation that takes place in the Renaissance courtyard of the museum building, interpreted as a “belly” that regenerates energy and matter. Open until April 3, 2024.

Split Face, the first monographic exhibition in Italy by American Artist Nathaniel Mary Quinn, opens October 7 at Museo Novecento and Museo Stefano Bardini. Quinn, originally from Chicago, Illinois, is known for his composite portraits featuring disfigured faces and his hyperreal style is reminiscent of the historical avant-garde movement. This exhibition features unpublished and recently produced paintings alongside other works from artistic masters of the medieval period and the Renaissance at the Museo Bardini. Open until March 11, 2024.

Also opening on October 7 is the highly anticipated exhibition of Untrue, Unreal by Anish Kapoor, curated by Arturo Galansino at Palazzo Strozzi. Kapoor, originally from Mumbai, India, revolutionized the use of sculpture in contemporary art, and his exhibition calls the viewer to question their own senses, offering a journey through various installations, architecture, and environments. The Palazzo Strozzi is transformed by this exhibition of historical works and recent productions. Open until February 4, 2024.

The Ferragamo Historical Archive at Museo Ferragamo will open its doors to the public on September 30 and October 7. Usually only accessible via virtual tour, this archive includes a plethora of documents, photographs, films, drawings, prototypes, and stories of the Ferragamo company, collected by Salvatore Ferragamo himself (1898 – 1960) beginning in the 1920s. After his death, the invaluable archive was preserved by his family, and Florence Art Week provides the unique opportunity to experience Ferragamo’s influence on international fashion in person.

Also included in the Florence Art Week calendar, but already underway and available to visit includes the late Lisetta Carmi’s Suonare Forte at Villa Bardini, curated by Giovanni Battista Martini. The exhibition was previously displayed at the Gallerie d’Italia in Turin and the monographic anthology of the photographer’s most significant projects allows her influential voice in Italian art to live on. Carmi (1924 – 2022) used photography as an investigative tool to understand and portray the varying human experience. Discover her unprecedented “Photo-Graphic” work of 1962 and the unique way music is incorporated into her photography until October 8 at Villa Bardini, open 10 am – 9 pm every day except Monday.

Steve McCurry’s Children, an exhibition dedicated entirely to childhood is currently on display at Museo Innocenti in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. The famous American photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s exhibition consists of larger-than-life-size photographs of children from various times and places. Discover the work of the awarded Steve McCurry until October 8 at Museo Innocenti, open 10 am – 7 pm daily.

With a calendar full of exhibitions to visit, generations of history to relive, and endless art to enjoy, Florence Art Week offers something for everyone, beginning September 28 through October 8.  (Abigail Dawson)