Arte Torna Arte


May 8 – November 4, 2012

Galleria dell’Accademia – Via Ricasoli 58-60 – Florence

The title Arte torna Arte [Art Returns to art] is the same as the one Luciano Fabro – one of the best-known artists on the Italian scene who died in 2007 – chose for a collection of his writings and of lectures and talks given between 1981 and 1997 at universities, academies and museums in various parts of the world. Adopting this expression as the title of the exhibition is a mark of agreement with his idea of art as a continuum that renews and regenerates itself, drawing strength from itself and from its own history. Arte torna Arte proposes examples of artists who in their works have looked to history, to the masterpieces of the past, making use of their iconography, reworking their ideas and assuming a responsibility that has not yet been exhausted and a sense of belonging that has no bounds, but that finds expression in languages rich in interpretative possibilities.

The location of the exhibition is doubly emblematic. The Galleria is the home of Michelangelo’s David and his Prisoners, as well as important collections that include masterpieces of various periods, and in particular of 14th-century Florentine painting: thus it is an ideal setting for a concrete dialogue between the works of the past and those of artists of our own day, offering the public the experience of a continual counterpoint. The gallery is also an exhibition place linked to the history of the Florentine Accademia di Belle Arti, the first institution set up in Italy to mark a continuity between past and present, where the collection of plaster casts and works, before and after the creation of the city’s museums, has provided models of Renaissance thinking and supplied lifeblood to artists from all over the world, who have come to Florence and the academy to study.

The languages presented side by side in this museological space are many and cover the whole range of visual production, including the more traditional techniques like painting, sculpture and drawing as well as photography, video, performance and installation art. All kinds of images are admitted and included in this process. The works have been carefully chosen for their resonances, their “echoes,” and for their visual assonances with the past, with the paintings, sculptures and architecture of the museum, that spark off and develop a critical line of reasoning on the role and function of the creative act. The artists who are still alive have been involved in the choice and some of them have created works specially for the occasion. 

The recognition of origins, the persistence of models and forms, the need to begin again, to go back to and modify earlier speculations, are elements of a way of thinking and acting that is part of the essence of what we call the discourse on the history of art, on its languages and its visual and plastic modes. The relationship with memory has always prompted a continual artistic reflection that evokes complex connections and concepts, constructs new and intricate archives, constellations and systems that allow us to think about the figures, the processes of composition and the founding archetypes of art. In the work of the artists of every age it is possible to recognize derivations, rediscoveries and resumptions in a recurrence that is different on each occasion. The contemporary era is not immune from this attitude of uninterrupted analysis and reworking of the sources, which does not lead to empty, nostalgic evocations but is capable of generating profoundly up-to-date and innovative creations. Memory, as it is understood in this project, is not sequential recording of the time that passes. Rather it is a subterranean memory that surfaces in the juxtaposition of heterogeneous fragments (of the past and present) that arouse the buried, grasp the unsaid, make visible a “frenetic” dialectic. The continual meditation on and revision of the sources in the works of the great artists of the present is an open and vital resource for the generation of deeply innovative creations because, to quote, the Italian art historian and writer Cesare de Seta “[...] among contemporary artists there are those who continue to hold a dialogue with history and the past, and for this reason are the art of the future.

Image above: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Sacra conversazione (Anselmo, Zorio, Penone), 1962 – 1974, Biella


Ketty La Rocca

David – 1973


Ketty La Rocca

Monumento Demidoff


Alfredo Pirri

Passi -  2011

installazione con specchio MirrorSafe


Eliseo Mattiacci

Carro solare del Montefeltro – 1986


Giuseppe Penone

Nel legno – 2008


Louise Bourgeois

Arch of Hysteria-  1993


Olaf Nicolai

A Portrait of the Artist as a Weeping Narcissus – 2000


Yves Klein

Monogold sans titre (MG 6) – 1961


Bill Viola

Surrender – 2001