Author: Martin Holman

Martin Holman is a British writer and a former Florence resident who often returns to Italy. He is collaborating on the first solo show in the UK by Italian abstract painter Gianfranco Zappettini, which will open at Mazzoleni, London, early in 2020.
July 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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
May 8, 2014

Loving the centenarian

As the Institute approaches its centenary in 2017, The Florentine meets Julia Race, director since last August, to explore the opportunities and challenges of being 100 years young in the era of online learning, virtual travel and widespread cultural tourism.   Martin Holman: You are no stranger to Italy, having
April 3, 2014

The ties that grind?

Questions about the family as an institution regularly fill the pages of newspapers and magazines as well as the airwaves. So it is not surprising that artists around the world are participating in the debate. Inevitably, questions outweigh answers, but since the arts excel at testing theories and inverting assumptions
February 27, 2014

Leaving his trace in time

The small, edicola-sized interior of BASE Progetti per l’Arte in via San Niccolò provides unexpected proof that ‘precious things come in small packages’. In spite of its tiny setting—or, maybe, because of it—this non-profit-making exhibition space is probably
December 12, 2013

Florence greets its new Viola

Before being installed in the Vasari Corridor, a recent addition to the Uffizi’s unrivalled collection of artists’ self-portraits is about to go on view at San Pier Scheraggio, the former church enclosed within Palazzo Vecchio. The subject of the work is American video artist Bill Viola,