Uffizi Shows to Visit in the New Year

A work in the Uffizi by Cai Guo-Qiang

The stars have aligned again –  the city’s major museums have reversed their price hike for low tourist season months. Tickets to the Uffizi Gallery will reduce in price until February 28, special promotions to the Pitti Palace have been established, and a new PassePartout system has been established for families.  This is the moment to see exhibitions hosted by these two major Florentine galleries: Flora Commedia at the Uffizi and Fragile Treasures of the Princes at Pitti.

Uffizi tickets will be sold for €12, for the four months with fewer visitors. Exclusive to the Uffizi, after Mar. 1, 2019, groups of over 15 people must pay an additional €70.

At the Pitti Palace, tickets have been reduced from €16 to €10 during the low season. In addition to the already existing promotion for tickets bought before 9 am, on Wednesdays after 3 pm, tickets will be discounted 50% (meaning tickets would be just €5).

Another new feature to the PassePartout system is the family PassePartout. While the current system allows an individual complete access to the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, and Boboli Garden, for €70 year-round, the family option, for only €100, allows entrance for two adults and an unlimited number of children.  (beatrice paolucci)

Until February 17:  FLORA COMMEDIA: CAI GUO-QIANG AT THE UFFIZI. Open 8:15 am – 6:50 pm. Admission: €12.

Florence was vibrantly transformed on November 18, 2018 as Cai Guo-Qiang created an explosive daytime masterpiece painting a colorful sky full of flowers from the Palazzo Michelangelo (see related article) to mark the gallery opening of his exhibition, “Flora Commedia,” at the Uffizi.  The show  features 10 rooms with over 60 of his works inspired by his time spent in Florence and Botticelli’s Primavera as well as a tangible result of the November fireworks display, with the actual colors etched on a background displayed for all to see.

Cai Guo-Qiang is known for his artwork made using gunpowder and explosives. Inspired by the various ways in which to change a person’s mind, Cai’s artwork demonstrates the more ethereal way gunpowder can be used. He claims that his main inspiration was, “to investigate the constructive nature of gunpowder, and to look at how destruction can create something as well.”

The display begins with Cai’s inspiration from Caravaggio: personal interpretations of Medusa and Bacchus adorn the walls with a self-portrait on the opposite wall. His reinterpretation of Medusa is similar to Caravaggio’s however instead of using vibrant colors like those in his other works, the artist simply uses red and black. 

The next room has 40 pieces on the walls where not only does the visitor see Cai’s interpretation of Renaissance art pieces, but also his process of creating and perfecting the various explosions that formulate his work. The most recognizable, and impressive, piece in the gallery is the recreation of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Instead of the delicate pastels that viewers are accustomed to, Cai recreated the work, adding many large black spots to contrast colorful surroundings of other pieces in the gallery.

Moving through the rooms, the viewer experiences more colorful surroundings. The pieces in the following three rooms are inspired by Cai’s initial visit to the Boboli gardens and the visit that inspired this exhibition. In the room entitled  Color Garden, the viewer has the opportunity to experience the way in which his pieces are created. In the center of the room is a vibrant rendering of the flowers in the garden contrasted with dark splatters in the background. On either side of the gallery are canvases filled with colorful swirls and shadows. These works were created by placing the canvases on top of one another and setting off the explosives in between. The two pieces create a reflective shadow of one another.

In Cosmos Garden, Cai examines the heaven complex as well as the sensual passion of human nature. When creating initially the exhibits, he used colorful gunpowder’s to create a garden of various flowers brightened with the white background. Then, he decided to complicate the process by adding black gunpowder scattered throughout the flowers and finally topping with a separate black canvas before igniting the piece. The canvas removed from the top eerily portrays a shadow of the initial piece while the original canvas is covered in dark bruises. His process of planning this group was featured in the final episode of a BBC documentary titled, “The Vital Spark.”

Cai continues to explore his sexuality as well as human desire with his series of pieces in Erotic Garden. These pieces were initially inspired by an historic erotic themed booklet containing 16 images of various sexual poses. Cai took the images and portrayed them on a singular plane attempting to tell a story of a single sexual encounter. The piece begins with Cupid in the top left corner igniting the passion portrayed through the piece. Cai claims to be letting the sexy and wild side of the gunpowder to speak for itself through this piece.

In the final room of the show, the visitor is able to witness the piece created from the November 18 firework display. While the art is on the wall, a video portrays the fireworks as well as Cai’s planning behind the exhibition and the inaugural evening performance. The exhibit was inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera and in order to create it nearly 50,000 fireworks were set off in a 10 minute span to leave an impression on a 24m (79 ft.) roll. The work is displayed on hemp paper with colors nearly as vibrant as those in the sky.

Until March 10: FRAGILE TREASURES OF THE PRINCES (Fragili Tesori dei Principi).  Pitti Palace. Open 8:15 am – 6:50 pm.  Besides the low season ticket price  (€10) there are following discounts. €8 for EU citizens ages 18-25, free for children under 18 of any nationality, handicapped and accompanying persons, journalists, students and Italian teachers.

The show celebrates the historic artistic relations between Florence and Vienna with a display of art pieces belonging to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the Lorraine dynasty. These once private collections are now available for the public to admire and include priceless porcelain, paintings, sculptures, furnishings, tapestries and more.

The craft of ceramics production was brought to 18th century Florence by Italian senator Carlo Ginori, who founded the Doccia porcelain factory near the city in 1735. After importing Chinese porcelain samples and experimenting with ingredients, Ginori employed two Viennese painters and a modeler and began selling their products publicly in 1746.

The finely decorated pottery was purchased by many high-profile customers and European nobility, such as the Medici family and Napoleon’s wife. The porcelain produced reflected international taste and mirrored other forms of art and changing social and fashion norms. The Medici family fell in love with chocolate after importing it from Spain in 1933, and a new need for porcelain objects and ceramics arose in Italian coffeehouses serving the New World delicacy.  (leigh van ryn)