Some people say Florence is stuck in the cinquecento, in other words, the Renaissance. And to be totally honest, they’re right. Florence may be the city that inspired the Renaissance, giving birth to artistic genius unlike any other epoch; and it may hold one-fifth of the world’s art treasures, but it’s not exactly the place that is synonymous with contemporary. When you talk about Florence and all the amazing things it holds, you are generally talking about its past. Florence doesn’t hold a famous biennale or have a contemporary art museum. You’ll want to go somewhere like Milan, Turin or Venice for those sort of things in Italy.
So what has happened to art here since the Renaissance? Is Florence still the budding artistic city it once was?
Florence’s famous artistic heritage really overshadows anything else that might be happening in the city in terms of art, but that’s also because it’s glaringly tough competition to beat – it would have to be something rather impressive to draw people away from going to see things like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Giotto’s frescoes. But this is also one of the reasons why artists have always been drawn to Florence, for the inspiration and the study of these masterpieces. In fact, it is really an artist’s rite of passage to visit and see Florence and experience first hand that jolt in your heart when you set eyes on Michelangelo’s original sculpture of David. But then artists seem to move on to more ‘happening’, more contemporary art scenes such as New York, Berlin, Paris, Milan... No longer is Florence the centre of the art world.