Cinqueccento in Florence

By: Rafael Orozco, MA, 2017-2018

Palazzo Strozzi is showcasing some of the best 16th century Italian works of art by Tuscan masters which will be exhibited until the 21st of January 2018.

The exhibition displays the works of superb Florentine artists, including Michelangelo, Giorgio Vasari, Pontormo, Giambologna and many more. Before the exhibit was open to the public, the Museum Studies masters students at Marist were invited to the premiere opening allowing them to see these works of art before anyone else.

The Cinqueccento in Florence is the final chapter of three exhibitions created and directed by Carlo Falacinai and Antonio Natali. As a museum studies graduate student, I found this to be special to see because some of these works have not been seen together since they were originally created nearly 500 years ago.

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A highlight of the event is Michelangelo Buonarroti’s River God (1526-7), an important piece because it formed a foundation where artists would follow when recreating the human body. This was the first piece my classmates and I got to see as we walked into the exhibition which truly captured our imaginations. Also within the show are Pontormo’s Deposition (1525-8) with its vibrant colors, and bronze statues of Giambologna (which is the artist most showcased within this exhibition).

The exhibition demonstrates the clash between the “modern manner” and that of the Counter-Reformation, which lasted from 1545 to 1648. At the time there was a schism within the Catholic church, between what could and could not be drawn and portrayed. While walking through the exhibit, the artworks really portrayed this message to us by allowing us to go back in time and see what was acceptable for the period

Eight rooms within the Palazzo Strozzi showcase these marvelous works. The first rooms start of by exhibiting Christian pieces, then moving into more secular art, which flows into a room depicting allegories and myths from Greek cultures. 70 total works by 41 artists are placed within the show. Each one exemplifies the wealth of Tuscan artists.

Seventeen of those monumental works have been painstakingly and beautifully restored. The beauty of the art is proof of the conservation team’s prestigious dedication that went into the long process in restoring the works of art. They really make the colors come alive to truly capture what it was like to look at these marvelous paintings nearly a millennium ago.

A small contingent of the works has traveled a great distance to be put on display in the Palazzo Strozzi exhibition. Some works come from as far as Canada, the United States, and London, while others come from much closer places such as Volterra and Urbino. This shows the wide range of partners and collaborations that went into creating the exhibition. Friends of Florence (a non-profit group comprised of American art patrons) played a crucial role in preparation for the exhibit, funding the restoration of seventeen works of art.

We were extremely privileged to have been able to attend such a fascinating exhibit showcasing some of the greatest Renaissance artworks. It was even more fortunate that we were able to see them in the wonderful city of Florence. We look forward to what the rest of the Museum Studies program has in store for us.

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