Beyond the Duomo and the David, Florence hosts a wealth of surprise street art, fun architectural details, and free art installations. Here are some of the cool things I've seen in the past year or so!
One of the most commonly portrayed figures around town is Dante Alighieri, who was born in Florence in 1265 and wrote the Divine Comedy, a sprawling work that is famous (among other things) for being the first major work of European literature written in the vernacular -- that is, NOT in Latin. He's considered "the father of the Italian language," sort of like Shakespeare is to the English-speaking world.
Dante was also a Florentine statesman and fought for the city's independence from both the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope (unfortunately his faction did not have the upper hand at the time so he went into exile and eventually died in Ravenna -- to the great chagrin of Florentines, who would love to have his body back!). Still.... his figure still looms large over the city!
I love these new sartorial choices for Dante:
Sometimes the street art comes in a bigger, more arresting form, like this massive statue by Italian artist Emanuele Giannelli.
Is he pushing or supporting? Is he for or against (the church of San Lorenzo, in this case)? "Mr. Arbitrium" [arbitrium = decision in Latin] will be here until the end of October, reminding you to question your decisions and beliefs. [as always, if you're viewing on a computer you can click on each photo separately to see it in full format]
We had another intriguing installation last year with Chinese artist Liu Ruowang’s “Wolves Coming.” There were some in Piazza Santissima Annunziata:
And others in front of Palazzo Pitti. They represent man's mistreatment of the environment, provoking the wrath of the natural world.
But they were also fun to play with!
Not all of the installations were as interesting... (especially that last one! ick!)
Who's there?!? Hope it's not this guy!
And yes! Clet's "Common Man" is still boldly striding into his uncertain future on the Ponte alle Grazie (if you remember from my post from Feb. 2021, the artist didn't have a permit to erect the statue on a public bridge and the city threatened to take it down -- as they already had in the past!).
Other fun sightings around town: you may see this vintage Fiat "Cinquecento" (500), complete with little suitcase and old wooden tennis racket!
And if you're into old cars, you'll want to check out the vintage car show that often takes place up at the Piazzale Michelangelo. I love that hearse 😮 And that huge American car! Imagine the cost of filling up that tank of gas today!
Or you may see this guy biking his four poofs through town. He had to have a special bike rack made for them!
But let's get back to the art... Back in 2021 we got this cool installation called "The Wound" on the wall of the Palazzo Strozzi. It's by another French artist, Jr. It portrays a fictionalized interior evoking the accessibility of art during the pandemic.
The Palazzo Strozzi used to be the lavish villa of the Strozzi family -- rivals of the Medici during the Renaissance -- but now it's a museum and it often has shows of contemporary artists, some of which can be seen for free in the building's vast courtyard.
There was a show called "Aerocene" by Tomas Saraceno, hoping for "an ethical collaboration with the atmosphere." The balloons are prototypes of solar-powered hot-air balloons that would travel through "an era free from borders, free from fossil fuels."
[and it's funny to think that I took these pictures on February 2020, as Covid was just starting its journey around the world...🙁]
Last winter we had Jeff Koons, with a show called Shine:
The central courtyard of the Palazzo is a great space to show larger works:
And up until a few weeks ago we had Let's Get Digital, featuring this psychedelic piece by Refik Anadol. It was "a giant data sculpture displaying machine-generated, dynamic pigments of nature." You can see a video of a similar work in motion here.
Back in my neighborhood I stop to have a beer with the leader of the Resistance 😉. It's another installment by the feminist street collective known as @lediesis (see their Facebook page for more).
Lots of other fun stuff in the streets, including (click on each one to see it separately): Michelangelo's David enjoying an espresso, a couple respecting "social distancing," a take-off of Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat (now he's just drunk on Jameson 😄), and a Starry Starry Florence Night.
And now I see Florence's "wine windows" everywhere! If you don't know what they are, read my post about them here.
And when you're done looking at all the fun little details hidden around town, there's always the big picture ❤️❤️❤️
Thanks for joining me on this art scavenger hunt. It's been a hot-hot summer but we got some rain yesterday and I can feel autumn is just around the corner. I start my first Fall tour in just three days so I'm enjoying the last of my lazy Sundays...
If you'd like to support my art habit you can toss a couple tubes of paint into my tip jar (click here or see the link above in menu). Or just comment below to say Hi! I'm off for a bike ride now, so...