Friday, March 12, 2010

The Human Condition

A museum. Finally. I visited the Palazzo Strozzi, a contemporary art museum here in Florence. Buzzaro and I went the other day and saw two really incredible exhibits. Back in Manhattan I was a frequent museum visitor. I managed to visit about twenty museums in six months. Thats a pretty darn good amount of culture to absorb. I averaged 3.25 museums per month. Its really difficult to make time during a school semester to get to a museum. I know my posts don't neccesarily reflect this, but students really don't have all that much free time. I'd say 3.25 is really quite an impressive number. I've been in Florence since January and it's already mid-March. It took me this long to get my ass to a museum. I'm grateful that I actually made the time because seeing those two exhibits was worth the ten euros I paid.

The museum is in the center of Florence about a five minute walk from my apartment in the San Lorenzo. I was waiting for Buzzaro and so decided to get myself a cappucino and cornetto con crema at this place called Gilli down the road. I'd been wanting to go there because they are a sweets shop and I really enjoy my sweets. I went and was really not impressed. The people were rude and the cornetto was actually kind of stale. I met with Buzzaro outside the Palazzo afterwards and we went to see the upstairs exhibit first. The featured artists were De Chirico, Magritte, Max Ernst, and Balthus and the theme was "A Look into the Invisible". The exhibit explored artists who toyed with the metaphysical. Basically these artists worked from the 20s-ish to the 40s-ish and used art to explore philosophies about such things as dreams, fears, and anxieties. These are all things that make up the metaphysical being. These artists really tried to use art to express those parts of humanity as real states of being rather than subjective thought patterns. The curator for the exhibit was brilliant, asking questions of those of us viewing the work and making me thinkg really hard. This curator helped me realize that a majority of the works were all about things I relate to in my everyday life alot, and thats a real feat of excellence. The curator also provided alot of information about the philosophies being addressed and challenged in the pieces, incorporating contemporaries like Sigmund Freud into the analysis. The exhibit really struck home with me. Read my post about wine dreaming and you will understand why all the works in the exhibit about dreaming really made me think hard about myself and my thoughts. Read my introduction and you will understand why the pieces about anxiety and fear really made me question my states of mind and being. This exhibit was one of the most personal exhibits I've ever been to and became one of my favorites almost immediately. It has made it into my top three, beating out the Dali exhibit I saw twice at the Moma to join the Tim Burton I saw at the Moma and the Edward Hopper I saw at the Whitney. To make it up there is a real accomplishment, so a big round of applause goes out to this exhibit.

Buzzaro and I were upstairs for about an hour. I felt a little like I was annoying him because I took the time to read each and every thing the curator had written. Sorry, Buzzaro! I enjoyed that curator so much I felt like I needed to. I was glad I did, too, because reading about the philosophies behind each of the pieces was really enriching. There was an artist who used his paintings to create an alter-ego for himself of this crazy mechanical monster things and it was totally sweet. If I did drugs I would totally do the same thing. Another artist made this really awesome abstract cityscape that was loads to fun to look at. One piece in particular, though, made some serious waves with my state of mind. The Human Condition, by Magritte, wasn't as abstracted or symbolically difficult to understand as the rest of the pieces and those are normally the ones that really resonate with me. It was an image of an image outside of a window, painted onto canvas sitting on an easel. It really got me thinking. I stood and stared at it for a really long time because it helped me come to grips with some feelings I'd been having about my life. I think alot about dying. Too much for my mental capacity to withstand most of the time. This painting really helped me understand how important it is not to think about things that keep me from living. I need to live in the image I am in, not outside of it. Artwork that can change a person is artwork worth mentioning, I think. There were more in that exhibit that really made impacts on my feelings about myself and my life, but this one was the one whose title I went home remembering. Being able to experience a change in myself like that was really something I'd been looking for here in Florence.

After we finished making our way through the upstairs we went to the downstairs. This section of the palace is called the Strozzina and here is where they put up their special exhibitions. It was an exhibit of the works of Gerhard Richter and contemporaries whose art explores the same ideas as his. It was an exhibit about reality and art and joining the two. There were videos of blurry images and photographs painted over to show manipulation of reality. Just the concept alone was creepy. Buzzaro and I watched it for a while, commenting on how insane we would go if we really let the video get into our heads. The exhibit really expressed the ideas of the subjective and the objective being different yet needing one another to exist. I appreciated it alot but it really creeped me out. There was a sculpture in there so massive it took up an entire room. It was made by Antony Gormley in 2009 and was titled Clearing V. It was the only one that truly stuck with me because it required the viewer to function as a part of the sculpture. Interaction with pieces like that really makes me appreciate the work of those artists. I recommend that all my readers try to see if the sculpture will ever be on tour nearby because it is absolutely worth it to see.

When we left that exhibit, Buzzaro and I made our way into the gift shop. There was a wonderful surprise in there. A contemporary Florentine artist had a small exhibit of her work in a white room to the right of the shop. She wrote a children's book following the story of Dante Alghieri's Inferno. Dante was a Florentine and his Inferno is allegory for Florence among the many other important things the poem explores. Dante is one of Florence's most precious attractions. The book was an illustration of the main scenes of the poem and it was really amazingly cool. Buzzaro and I were really excited to have seen and found the little place. Buzzaro actually bought the children's book that this woman had published. I'm thinking to go back and do the same. Go onto the Strozzi's website, readers,, and look this little book up. The illustrations are different and you definitely wont be expecting what you see. The book is a really fun, different take on one of the greatest epic poems of all time, and for those of you who love Dante as much as me the little thing provides an eerily cute new take on the story.

All in all, readers, my Strozzi visit was a huge success. Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby

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