Florence’s foremost art gallery may be closed due to the pandemic, but its windows continue to feed the art hungry this Christmas.
Marco Lodola’s Luminous Nativity will be on display for the duration of the holiday season as backlit figures add a contemporary vibe to the Renaissance grandeur. Visible from across the River Arno, the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi courtyard, passersby can make out Italian musicians in a religious guise: Lucio Dalla as Joseph, Gigliola Cinquetti as Mary, and Pavarotti, Rino Gaetano and Renzo Arbore as shepherds with a comet positioned above and pointing towards the Ponte Vecchio. Even Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Louis Armstrong make an appearance in the bright compositions.
Lombard artist Marco Lodola explains that he designed the installation by starting with a reflection on the suffering we are currently experiencing. “This inspired the depiction of a luminous rebirth, a feeling of hope and trust in change. Like the figurines in the nativity scene, we are the labourers of a suspended time, orchestras without an audience, theatres without a script, a stage waiting for its star. The connection with the Sanremo Festival added a pop flavour with familiar figures who have frequented the stage down the years. I designed the comet, also known as the ‘people’s star’, as a sea of faces in which everyone can see their own.”
“This colourful, pop nativity scene allows the Uffizi to greet passersby from the windows while the museum is closed due to the pandemic,” commented Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries. “But there is also a nod to the nativity scenes seen in Renaissance paintings, filled with celebrities of the time, real people painted as religious figures in many famous works, art that waits to welcome visitors back as soon as we reopen. For this reason, Marco Lodola’s installation is also a message of hope during the closure of museums and many cultural institutions.”
On December 17, Lodola’s nativity scene was switched on in the Uffizi windows. Watch the moment the art was lighted up here.