Author: Martin Holman

Martin Holman is a British writer and former Florence resident who returns frequently to the city. He is co-selecting an exhibition in London next year to trace the impact of Arte Povera on British artists.
May 31, 2017
ART + CULTURE

Has the Venice Biennale missed the point?

Standing at over 20 metres and with its gilded surface, The Golden Tower by the American conceptual artist James Lee Byars is hard to miss. Until November 26, this elegant column rises with simple perfection from the pavement of Campo San Vio as if to connect the teeming streets around the Grand Canal in Venice—and […]
March 30, 2017
ART + CULTURE

“I think in images”

Although Bill Viola’s installations employ innovative sophisticated video and computer equipment, the great themes he explores are ancient and universal. What’s more, during the past two decades, this internationally acclaimed American has established himself as one of the few contemporary artists to break through to mainstream audiences. While his electronic medium is cutting edge and […]
January 12, 2017
ART + CULTURE

When Rauschenberg reached the depths

As an artist, Robert Rauschenberg’s radical objective was to operate “in the gap between art and life”. His work crossed boundaries and a major retrospective at London’s Tate Modern (touring to New York and San Francisco) confirms that, although he died in 2008, this innovative figure remains a strong influence, especially on young artists. But […]
November 1, 2016
ART + CULTURE

Up, up Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is now described as the world’s most famous living artist. Millions round the globe have followed him on Twitter and Instagram; his impassive, bearded portrait symbolises his defiant campaign for democracy. While his biography includes house arrest and prison beatings, and the illegal demolition of his studio by the Chinese government, his artwork […]
July 1, 2016
ART + CULTURE

The man who scuttles man’s superiority over beetles

Jan Fabre, the Belgian artist whose monumental sculptures are enlivening three of Florence’s most august public spaces this summer, is a modern Renaissance man. As well as a visual artist with over 100 one-person shows to his name since 1979, he is an actor, writer, choreographer, theatre designer, stage director and filmmaker. That may account […]
April 2, 2016
ART + CULTURE

Exhibition review: From Kandinsky to Pollock

“No meaning, no symbols, no sense” was one pre-war American verdict on mining magnate Solomon Guggenheim’s collection of abstract art. Echoes of that public resistance to painting and sculpture with no recognisable subject matter are still heard today. Why does abstraction leave many people scratching their heads? As the astonishing selection from the collections of […]
May 28, 2015
ART + CULTURE

A review of the Venice Biennale

  The art world’s movers and shakers descended on Venice in early May by plane, train, boat and super yacht for the opening week of the 56th Biennale of visual art. While the oldest and most revered of the big international art festivals rides the stifling commercial hype in contemporary art that has surrounded collectors, […]
February 5, 2015
ART + CULTURE

Spoken with her hands

Ketty La Rocca is now considered one of the most distinctive Italian artists of the 1970s. Yet in 1976, the year La Rocca died, aged 37, one leading American commentator wrote that she had been ‘unable to break into the male art world with her art and her writing.&
September 11, 2014
ART + CULTURE

Where form and content meet

Giuseppe Penone, for four decades one of contemporary art’s leading figures, has long sought to bridge the gap that consumerism has opened between our experiences of art and nature. With Florence’s unique skyline for background, the enclosed natural setting of the Boboli Gardens and Forte di
July 3, 2014
ART + CULTURE

Flying the flag of a new world

The careers of artists Dadamaino and James Lee Byars began in the late 1950s. There is no record that they met in life or that either was familiar with the other’s work before Byars died in 1997 and Dadamaino in 2004. But two exhibitions in Florence help to