Marco Borrelli’s detailed capture shows restorer Nicola Salvioli applying resin and Carrara marble powder to a statue. At first glance, we’d be forgiven for thinking that the muscular leg belongs to Michelangelo’s actual David, but alarm bells start ringing at the missing head and torso. Fret not, what’s shown is a 3D printed copy of the Renaissance masterwork, which remains safely at home in the Galleria dell’Accademia, while his “twin” has been flown east to the Expo 2020 Dubai, where the reproduction will represent the “beauty of Italy”.
What role does a reproduction play in marketing a country’s cultural heritage? How civilized is it to spend money on a “clone” when artists continue to suffer the effects of the pandemic? Before grappling with these questions, learn about the intricacies of a feat such as this, which benefitted from the involvement of the Galleria dell’Accademia, the University of Florence and the Italian Ministry for Culture.
Art is what draws many of us to Florence, of course, and being surrounded by a seemingly boundless number of masterpieces inspires our daily lives. Lately, we have been denied entry to our cultural troves, but now museums, theatres, cinemas and concert halls are reopening to soothe our psyche, rouse creativity and provide artists with a livelihood at long last.
It’s not the only resumption of culture in Florence as performance artist Marisa Garreffa gears up to offer a community act of healing in a seven-hour-a-day, week-long, live-streamed storytelling piece at The British Institute of Florence. Marisa will sew our stories together to create a living library for posterity, so it’s time to get involved and send in your stories over the past year.
Restoration is a practical way in which logic can be returned to art, and Florence is fortunate to have foundations that give glory back to age-worn pieces. We speak with Luke Olbrich, director of the Mircea Maria Gerard Foundation, upon the recent completion of a massive conservation project at the Basilica of Santo Spirito (page 17). A transgenerational and international team of women restorers worked through lockdown to spruce up Giovanni Baratta’s 15-metre high Archangel Raffaele e Tobiolo. “Art has the enduring power to inspire, uplift and engage,” Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, reminds us on page 11, as the Friends of Florence president details the non-profit’s steadfast work to safeguard the city’s artistic and architectural treasures. Ongoing projects include restoring Michelangelo’s Bandini Pietà, Fra Angelico’s Bosco ai Frati Altarpiece, the Crucifix by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in Siena, and Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal in the Church of San Miniato al Monte.
Join us in this month’s celebration of culture by reading The Art Issue.