Museo Nazionale del Bargello: mecca of Renaissance sculptural art

Museo Nazionale del Bargello: mecca of Renaissance sculptural art

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Florence is not only beautiful on the outside; to rival its wonderful landscape and streets it also offers endless interior attractions. Since 1865, the Bargello National Museum has exhibited the most important collection of Renaissance sculpture in the world. The Medici gave the building in the sixteenth century to the bargello or head of the police, so he could use it as a prison. In fact, it was in its cortile, one of the most outstanding in the whole country, where executions took place. The site currently hosts works of Giambologna, Donatello, Benvenuto Cellini, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.
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Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

Cappella Brancacci, the Sistine Chapel of Florence

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Beyond the streets crowded by the omnipresent tourists looking for Florentine gems from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there are less exploited corners of great historical and artistic richness as the Brancacci Chapel, also known as the “Sistine Chapel of the first Renaissance”. The paintings on the walls are among the most popular and influential frescoes at the time. They are distributed in two horizontal levels along the chapel, which is part of the Carmine church and convent, founded in Florence in the mid-thirteenth century by a group of Carmelite monks from Pisa. Located in Piazza del Carmine (Florence-Oltrarno), the Cappella Brancacci is one of the oldest monumental buildings in Florence. The frescoes illustrating the life of Saint Peter are masterpieces by Masaccio and Masolino, painted between 1425 and 1427, just in the early years of the Florentine Renaissance. Later on, Filippino Lippi was called to complete Masaccio’s chapel decoration, which had been left unfinished due to Masaccio’s death in 1428.

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History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

History of art according to Florence or the Renaissance chapter at high school

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History of art was, without a doubt, my favourite subject at high school. By then, Italy was for me a distant and unknown country, it seemed so far as in another planet, and I did not even know what Tuscany meant or where in the map Florence was. At the age of 17, everything seemed so phantasmagorical and unreal … How rare, the unpredictable ways to which life sometimes leads. Especially, to those who try to escape from routine. I then loved the art history classes taught by María Luisa, always conducted in the dark. During those hours, I felt invisible and safe (at that time, my face was plagued by acne). We contemplated slides explained with genuine devotion by the teacher, and took notes of things that I thought I would never see on site. María Luisa inoculated me with the love for art and subtly with a passion for Florentine wonders. Today, 24 years later, I do not even remember her surname.

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Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

Pontormo at Palazzo Pitti: from drawing to painting

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The exhibition Incontri miracolosi: Pontormo dal disegno alla pittura (Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from drawing to painting) presents a series of works of outstanding importance, most of which are here displayed for the first time together. Thirty years after it was last here, the return visit to Florence of the Halberdier (1494- 1557) is the perfect occasion for an exhibition dedicated to Pontormo. This magnificent portrait by Pontormo, acquired by the Getty Museum of Los Angeles in 1989 for the then record-breaking sum of $32.5 million, now finds itself back in its home town of Florence. It’s the centre piece of the exhibition curated by Bruce Edelstein, which is now on show in the Sala delle Nicchie in Palazzo Pitti until 29th July 2018. Displayed along with the Halberdier, there is also the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, among other master pieces.

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Cloisters of Florence: the great scape

Cloisters of Florence: the great scape

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Florence does not stand as a vulgar Renaissance theme park, but rather as an infinite source of beauty and art, an open-air museum in which emotions grow by every minute. As I walk through the cloisters of Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, San Marcos, Santa Croce or Santo Spirito, peace and solitude seem very tangible to me. However, what most hypnotizes me is rather more radical. In these religious courtyards, with their gallery portrayed on all four sides, it is easy to feel as if you had left this world, not minding at all how to return, while you are busy imagining your next sins and who will be part of them.…

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Berlin vs. Florence: a perfect binomial?

Berlin vs. Florence: a perfect binomial?

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I have always been keen on extremes. I consider myself excessive and I have never been able to recognise the so-called “medium term”, so linked in my opinion to mediocrity rather than moderation. I would never describe myself as a restrained person, neither in my actions, nor in my passions, nor in my thoughts or feelings. A bit cyclothymic, too, as I sense everything with absolute bipolar intensity. Although apparently Berlin and Florence do not have much to do with each other, they are two cities of extremes, thus matching each other. In multiple ways, the two cities stand for the avant-garde as well as for Classicism, so it is with contemporary art in Berlin and the Renaissance of Florence. The modernity of the German capital and the Tuscan tradition; the spiritual chaos of Berlin and the delicacy of Florence; Berlin decadence and the Florentine refinement; the debauchery in Berlin and the Florentine composure. To mention just a few aspects …

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Touched for the very first time in Florence

Touched for the very first time in Florence

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My first stay in Florence was in piazza del Mercato Nuovo at the end of September 2008. I recall how lost I felt then, trying to find the hotel with a map in my hands. I still do not know the name of the streets and alleys, but today I could certainly move around the city with my eyes closed. I remember one particular night when, disappointed by a date, I drank a whole bottle of limoncello (yes, I’m that kind of person) that I acquired in Pisa. The following morning, I was stroke by terrible news: my friend and artist Cocó Ciëlo had been murdered in Madrid. That was the first time I walked to piazzale di Michelangelo. I had a beer or two there and cried while contemplating this majestic town. Where you led me, Florence, that fateful night? All I could feel was irrational disgust, as the city had become a carrier of bad news to me. But we later reconciled. And, as in the most intense and passionate stories in literature, we have lived since many ruptures and reunions.…

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Florence: passion and enthusiasm

Florence: passion and enthusiasm

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All passion springs from enthusiasm. Florence rescued me from neglecting feelings, an attitude that (I do not recall exactly when) came from falling lost in Berlin. Florence meant a safe net to avoid the death of the soul and helped me arise from that terrible fall. In the Tuscan capital a revolution took place inside of me. Indeed, a Renaissance. Thus, I now live here with all naturalness, feeling calm and relaxed. In Florence the days do not seem so endless, there is always something to do, even if it’s just a walk among Renaissance treasures, only to come back home later relieved. To enjoy Florence, one must be Epicurean, aesthete and eclectic. To this city, where the vicissitudes of my destiny have brought me, I will definitely elaborate a whole dictionary of affectionate expressions, because I haven´t yet met any Italian who speaks well, and with true love, about their country.

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Alternatives to the “Stendhal syndrome”: Museum House Vasari or the artist who gave name to the Renaissance

Alternatives to the “Stendhal syndrome”: Museum House Vasari or the artist who gave name to the Renaissance

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Vasari bought this garden house in Arezzo in 1541. In the last century some Tuscan artists turned the place into a small museum dedicated to Mannerism. This site is today an illustrious example of an artist’s house in which Giorgio Vasari, the first art historian of our era, celebrated his thoughts and his art. Its rooms are profusely decorated with frescoes and embellished with Mannerist paintings, revealing the supreme expression of 16th century Italian art. After completing his architectural works, Vasari dedicated himself to the pictorial decoration between 1542 and 1568, thus these rooms praise the artist’s role through biblical, mythological themes and numerous allegories to the astonishment of any visitor. The main rooms are substantially unchanged. The original furniture does not remain.
Casa Vasari – Via XX Settembre 55 – 52100 Arezzo

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Museo degli Innocenti: one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture

Museo degli Innocenti: one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture

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The Ospedale degli Innocenti was a children’s orphanage designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419. Following a long period of renewal, the new Museum degli Innocenti has finally opened to the public in June 2016. It verses on the theme of welcoming and caring for children, telling the visitor about the essence of the institution during six centuries, through historic documents as well as its artistic heritage. The lower level narrates the history and evolution of the Institute of the Innocents through the biographies and personal memories of the “Nocentini” (the children hosted here); the ground floor focuses on the architectural approach, describing also the evolution of the old hospital. Finally, but most importantly, the second floor houses a gallery with Renaissance treasures by Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Bartolomeo di Giovanni, Piero di Cosimo, Neri di Bicci, Luca della Robbia and Andrea and Giovanni del Biondo. The terrace-café of the Quattrocento open to the public crowns the building.
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