Visionary Tuscany

Three must-see exhibitions this winter

Mary Gray, Lavinia Butt
December 3, 2015 - 22:00

Move over, Madonnas and Mannerists. Three exhibitions in Tuscany this winter pack an unusual punch, showcasing high-impact, modern images with thought-provoking themes.rheims2m

ph. Bettina Rheims

PHOTOLUX FESTIVAL. International Biennial of Photography



Contrast is at the core of the Photolux Festival’s Eliade-esque theme this year, ‘Sacred and Profane.’


This prestigious biennial highlights key international players in photography and photojournalism, but this year it has a particularly philosophical twist. The works chosen will challenge visitors to think about themes related to duality and tension, spirituality and desecration, and the unexpected overlap of the theme’s two seemingly disparate concepts.

The versatility of the theme makes for quite a variety of exhibitions. Highlights include Venetian Toni Meneguzzo’s  Divine Bovine (Holy Cows) project, which hones in on the Hindu tradition of dressing and adorning sacred cows. In Hidden Islam, Nicolò Degiorgis’ moving images of Muslim places of worship in northeast Italy take on new urgency and meaning in light of recent events feeding misconceptions about the tradition.

Photolux also includes the World Press Photo 2015 exhibition, numerous workshops, lectures and portfolio readings.


Various venues in Lucca – full program Until December 13, 2015





MARCO FIDOLINI. Polyptychs 1983–2015 (Metropolitan Epiphanies)SAN GIOVANNI #VALDARNO

‘Mankind is so powerless, so ignorant of its own victimisation that through its very creations, self-destructs.’


These were Marco Fidolini’s dark words back in 1977, and today, the San Giovanni Valdarno-born artist’s has a similarly foreboding feel. With Metropolitan Epiphanies, Fidolini offers his critique of the last three decades, capturing our rapidly changing world and the ‘uncertainty and incessant fear’ of modern man in a series of bleak, almost grotesque representations. Through his repetitive use of greys, blacks and whites, Fidolini conveys the dreariness of urban life in all his panels, particularly in Metropolis, where the absence of a protagonist in the paintings emphasise the emptiness of the city. Brutality and even torture are not brushed aside in these works: body piercings and braces are highlighted in bright oranges and metallic paints, lending a weapon-like look to the pieces and critiquing violence in a way that prompts a visceral reaction.


Palazzo d'Arnolfo, Pieve di San Giovanni Battista

Museo della Basilica, Casa Giovanni da San Giovanni San Giovanni Valdarno Until December 31, 2015




HENRI TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. Lights and Shadows of Montmartre



Brightening the mood a bit is the colorful Henri Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at Palazzo Blu in Pisa, ‘Lights and Shadows of Montmartre.’


Open daily until February 14, 2016, the show takes visitors back to Belle Epoque Paris—the golden years of the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, the nightlife icons like Jane Avril, and the bars, brothels and bawdy characters of the age. This impressive collection comes in at just over 180 works, offering a comprehensive overview of Toulouse-Lautrec’s prolific career and personal interests. Works are divided thematically and span advertisements, portraits of friends and family, provocative lithographs and depictions of cabaret culture.

In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, there’s never been a better time to see this show, which is a sort of ‘love letter’ to the incomparable City of Light—brought to us by one of its most emblematic artists.    

Palazzo Blu Pisa Until February 14, 2016

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