Critically-acclaimed UK artist Antony Gormley has been exploring the relationship of the human body to space through sculpture since the 1960s. This spring at Forte Belvedere, Florentines have a chance to get to know the artist’s work through his largest exhibition yet, the site-specific installation of previously exhibited works put into dialogue with the Renaissance city. The exhibit Human runs from April 26 to September 27, 2015.
The Forte Belvedere has been hosting great contemporary artists since Henry Moore exhibited here in 1972. After a period of closure, it has hosted Zhang Huan in 2013 and Giuseppe Penone in 2014. Curator Sergio Risaliti reminded The Florentine, in an interview, how both recently and in the past, most contemporary artists have chosen to address the large space (and massive history) with monumental works, something that is different here with the human-sized works by Gormley, to which we can instantly relate because they, like us, are placed directly on the ground. Another unique factor this year is that for the first time, visitors can access the back side of the fortress: the works thus dialogue first with the Renaissance city, then with the highly cultivated landscape of the green Tuscan hills. Others works are located inside.
Like his famed predecessors, the artist was invited to familiarize himself with the space last September, and has returned frequently, as well as directly been involved in the installation, in order to generate an exhibit that is truly site-specific, even if technically all of them have been displayed elsewhere. He says of the importance of this building: “The Forte di Belvedere, its function as defensive fortress and its expression of temporal power are the basis of this exhibition. Overlooking Florence, a city that typifies an urban ideal, this site offers a place in which to consider how architecture serves to shelter, protect and dominate people and space. The Forte is an extraordinary example of a terraforming: a natural hill transformed by Ferdinando de’ Medici into an artefact.”
Facing the city, contemporary art at the Forte almost always is placed into a direct relationship and competition with the Renaissance, a weight that is often cited as holding back contemporary expression here. With this and the other exhibits at Forte Belvedere, city administration wishes to make a statement about its desire to embrace the present and seek a crucial interaction between the Florence of the Renaissance and the city of today, in a close dialogue between sculpture and new ways of conceiving man’s environment.
Antony Gormley, Human
Florence, Forte di Belvedere
April 26 to September 27, 2015
Open 10am to 8pm, Free
Info at www.gormleyfirenze.it