New Exhibitions Coming to Florence

The spring and summer hold the promise of a full spectrum of upcoming art shows, with an emphasis on contemporary and modern. The scene will change in the fall with the arrival of exhibitions and events marking the celebrations in honor of the quintessential Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci.

The following is a preview.


March 16 – July 22

Birth of a Nation

World War II left Italy in poverty; the post-war period witnessed the establishment of the Italian republic and a complete economic turnaround, providing fertile ground for and mirrored by a surge of artistic creativity.  This is documented in the display of modern art that takes the viewer up to 1968 entitled “Nascita di una Nazione” (Birth of a Nation), opening in Palazzo Strozzi on March 16.  Works by Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Emilio Vedova, Enrico Castellani, Piero Manzoni, Mario Schifano, Mario Merz and Michelangelo Pistoletto show the dynamism of a developing visual vocabulary embracing innovative styles – Arte Informale, Pop Art, Arte Povera (Poor Art) and Conceptual Art – in addition to new materials and media.

Starting on April 16, the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi will also become the venue for a contemporary installation.  A joint, site-specific project by German artist Carsten Holler and neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, “The Florence Experiment” will greet visitors with two 20m (65 ft.) slides.  A scientific laboratory documents and measures the reaction of the participants during a ride down, which will be compared to responses to stimuli in the plant world.  The downstairs Strozzina gallery will host screenings on the findings.  (rosanna cirigliano)

To see a photo gallery of pieces in the show, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.


March 16 – April 18

Corpus Dei

Works by Sabrina van Heuvel. NIKI, Viale Torricelli, 5. Open Monday through Friday, 9 am – noon and 2 – 5:30 pm. Free admission.

The Dutch Art History Institute has been a hidden gem of Florence since its founding in 1958. The center is dedicated to fostering the unique relationship between Italy and Northern Europe by promoting research particularly on the tradition of artistic exchange between Holland and Italy.

The chosen inaugural exhibit for NIKI’s 2018 art season is Corpus Dei by photographer Sabrina van Heuvel, a fellow at the institute. Van Heuvel draws her influence from music as well as fashion icons like Morrissey, the front man for The Smiths.  Through a play on light and dark, her black and white portraits offer poetic and ephemeral moments of strong emotion.

Corpus Dei was inspired by the unique landscapes of Florence, Rome, and Tivoli where natural beauty is juxtaposed with settings rich in history and archeology.  Van Heuvel combines elements of classical art and nature that characterize these Italian cities and which she contrasts with her modern image of man.  She is especially influenced by Michelangelo’s admiration for the human body and his belief that physique is a form of divine representation.

Not only will this exhibition provide thought provoking scenes about man’s connection to history and art, but it will also offer a woman’s perspective on the classical representation of male figures. What is van Heuvel’s commentary? You will have to see for yourself.   (anna rosin)


May 8 – July 29

Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from Drawing to Painting

The exhibition, created in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, is a selection of Pontormo’s later works, mostly from the late 1520s. Returning to Florence, the “Alabardiere” (Soldier Holding a Spear Axe) on loan from the Getty Museum is now side by side with Pontormo’s original preparatory drawing for the piece as well as with other exhibits from the same period, such as a portrait of Carlo Neroni from a private collection that was recently discovered.  At the show, Pontormo’s “Visitation,” arriving from Carmignano can also be viewed alongside the beautiful study, a drawing “a matita nera” for the first time together.


June 5  – December 2

Travel in Style

This exhibition takes cars as subjects, defining them as  ‘moving works of art,’ twinning the theme with travel fashion of the early to mid 20th century. The historical photographs of Locchi historical photo archives demonstrate the design trends of the time as well as the status they represent.  (berfin altinisik)


June 13 – September

Steve McCurry:  Icons

For those who have not yet come face to face with McCurry’s impressive portfolio, here is an opportunity to see some of his most famous photos:  the Twin Towers exploding, a serene Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in Burma, landscapes, architecture and his special reports on ethnic groups.  Of course, the crown jewel is Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl celebrated by the National Geographic.


June 19 – September 23

Islamic Art in Florence

At both the Uffizi and the Bargello National Sculpture Museum, the public will have the chance to view an incredible new exhibition of Islamic art collected by the Medici family. Much of this extensive collection was obtained between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries – a period of great interest in Islamic art in Florence, followed by a revival in the late 19th century – and includes rugs, textiles, wooden statues and sculptures, ceramics, glass, ivory, mosaics and manuscripts.


June 21 – October 7

Fritz Koenig

The city of the Renaissance will be paying tribute to Fritz Koenig (1924 – 2017) by showcasing his drawings, sculptures, and models at the Uffizi and his large bronze sculptures at the Boboli Gardens.  This will be the first major retrospective dedicated to the artist, as he was notorious for avoiding all types of exhibitions and shows. Koenig, one of the greatest German sculptors of the 20th century, is most famous for his 7.6 m (25 ft.) bronze “Sphere,” dedicated to world peace.  Originally located between the Twin Towers in New York, the piece survived the 9/11 terrorist attack and was subsequently moved to Liberty Park. (molly hamilton)