Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Istituto Europeo Study Abroad Art Program, Florence – Interview with Ashkon Farhangi


Sculpture by Ashkon                                                              Self portrait by Ashkon



Nationality: USA
In Florence for 4 weeks to study painting, sculpture and Italian with Istituto Europeo
Speaks English, Spanish, Farsi, (and a little bit of Italian)
Loves cereal
Hates getting up early

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m 18 years old and I’m from San Francisco, California. I have a younger brother who is 15. I have just finished high school so I don’t have an occupation yet. Painting and sculpture are my hobbies (I like art in general). I also play tennis and soccer. I’m Persian but I’ve lived in the USA for my whole life.

  1. What made you want to come to Florence to study art?
Specifically Florence because it’s a beautiful city (I hadn’t been before, but it’s what I’d heard). Two of my cousins did their study abroad semesters over here and they recommended it. Before coming here, I spent three months in China studying kung fu.

  1. How does Florence compare to China?
Florence as a place is definitely very different to China. China was dirty, the air was hard to breathe; very modern, a lot of skyscrapers. Sometimes monotonous because it all looks the same (you can be anywhere in the city and not know where you are).  Obviously in China they speak Chinese. I found people in China somewhat nicer than here in Florence. Maybe because there weren’t many foreigners, so they were eager to talk to me and the people I was with.

  1. How has your experience in Florence met your expectations?
I guess it has actually; but the one thing I wish was different about Florence was if there were more trees – it seems very dry here. I also thought it would be more expensive to eat and go out here; but I’ve found it quite cheap. And a lot of places have student discounts, which I’ve used extensively.

  1. Tell us about the art work you have made while you’ve been here (the materials, the process, difficulty, the teacher, etc.)
I built terracotta sculptures; I moulded them. One of them took two weeks, and the self-portrait took one week. I used classic sculpting tools; wooden knives and metal sculpting tools. I didn’t like my self portrait at all, so I feel like it’s still not finished. It’s hard to sculpt yourself (I was looking in a mirror). I hadn’t realised how inaccurate my image of myself was until I started sculpting. My teacher was a really nice guy; he was very straight and honest; he told me when my work was good or bad – he didn’t embellish or worry about my feelings. I liked that though – it made my work a lot better. This was my first time really sculpting. I think I have gotten better at it since the beginning.

  1. What is your favourite thing about Florence?
The architecture is so pretty. I’ve studied a lot of architecture, so whenever I go someplace new, I am very aware of the buildings around me. The style here is very different than the style in the USA. I like the way they use colours more extensively and in a different way than in the USA.

  1. What is your least favourite thing about Florence?
I don’t really have any complaints although the internet isn’t great here. Something that surprised me also was when you walk into a store, the sales people don’t respond to you the way they do in the USA. In the USA sales people fall over themselves to sell you stuff, but here it’s sort of like it’s not worth it to them to act differently than they normally would to sell something. It’s nice in some ways but also frustrating in other ways.

  1. What do you miss most from home?
I guess I miss my family and friends. But I told everyone from home I’d be away for a month and that I’d try not to contact them during that time. Because I was going away for such a short time, I wanted to be present here in Florence; knowing full well I’d see everybody soon enough.

  1. What are your plans after Florence?
I have an internship in San Fransisco at a small company that is developing an iPhone/iPad app. I’ll be there for two months before starting university. I haven’t decided what I’m studying yet, but I’m interested in math and economics.

  1. What advice would you give to other young people thinking about studying abroad/in Florence?
Definitely do it. As far as having places to study abroad go, I think Florence would be the best because it’s full of college students. The whole city is student-friendly with the discounts and stuff. It’s small enough that you don’t need a car, and it’s super pretty here too. But I heard it sucks in winter. I definitely met a lot of people at Istituto Europeo and made some friends. Istituto Europeo was a very supportive place, like they set up my apartment and made it easy for me to move here, and any time I needed directions or anything I was able to get help from the staff at Istituto Europeo.

  1. If someone was visiting Florence for just one day, what would you recommend they do/see?
I’m not really the kind of person who likes to see the big touristy things, and since I was only here for four weeks I didn’t get to see any of the museums – I’m going to try to see some in the next few days before I leave though. So there’s not any one place in the city that I’d say was my favourite. That said though, the Ponte Vecchio is pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Antonio Skármeta "Los días del arcoíris" (the days of the rainbow) - Planeta, 2011






By Fabrizio Ulivieri


The book is written in an atmosphere wherein we feel we are no longer able to breathe. It is set in Europe and Skarmeta leads the reader in a cold and undemocratic Santiago, where a standing frozen  rain is imbuing the citizens bones with Pinochet’s political oppression.
The characters are humble and almost basic people. They live as they eat and breathe: they eat  Italian, they love Italy (which is a hope for many of them) and they breathe a gray life: the life that the dictator Pinochet concedes and which is the only one possible for any of them.
In spite of  this suburban and subhuman atmosphere the book seeks out color, for the essence of life, that democracy might represent, but which probably will never represent because democracy is in reality only an adjustment (compromise) between past and present, between lobbies and citizen and for this reason freedom and happiness are not inherent to the very nature of democracy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Palazzo Pitti parla giapponese e invita a conoscere il Paese del sol levante. In mostra l’arte e la cultura del Giappone nell’incontro con l’Occidente



Linee, colori e suggestioni racchiuse in 500 opere che raccontano la ‘terra di incanti’ dell’Estremo Oriente, lungo un percorso di mille e 200 metri di superficie espositiva. Così a Firenze, a Palazzo Pitti dal 3 aprile al primo luglio 2012, si celebra il Giappone. Nella reggia fiorentina che nel 1585 ospitò i primi ambasciatori giapponesi mai arrivati in Italia, la manifestazione ‘Giappone, terra d’incanti’, suddivisa in tre mostre dai titoli differenti, illustra l’arte e la cultura nipponica. Vediamo di seguito più nel dettaglio le tre parti dell’esposizione.

Di Linea e di Colore. Il Giappone, le sue arti e l'incontro con l'Occidente
Al piano terreno di Palazzo Pitti, nell’antico quartiere estivo dei granduchi, oggi Museo degli Argenti, le luci sono puntate sull’arte giapponese dal XIV al XIX secolo, epoca in cui il Giappone era il paese degli shogun e dei samurai. Questa parte della manifestazione espone raffinate realizzazioni artistiche e artigianali, dalle armi alle armature dei noti guerrieri, ai dipinti realizzati su paraventi dorati o su rotoli, destinati ai templi buddhisti e shintoisti o alle abitazioni. Non mancano opere che gli shogun dedicarono alla celebre Cerimonia del tè, kimono dagli straordinari tessuti, maschere e costumi variopinti per il teatro.

Alcune sale sono dedicate l'Ukiyo, il ‘mondo fluttuante’, una cultura parallela legata ai mercanti del periodo Edo (1615-1868), amatori della bellezza e dell’eleganza che predilessero artisti come il grande Hokusai, presente in mostra con lo straordinario capolavoro ‘Cinque dame’, rotolo verticale conservato nel Museo Hosomi di Kyoto.

Una parte di questa mostra è inoltre riservata all'incontro tra la cultura giapponese e quella europea e italiana, attraverso l'esposizione di manufatti giapponesi di tipo Nanban, che  letteralmente significa ‘barbari del Sud’, così come i giapponesi definivano gli europei tra il XVI e il XVII secolo.

L'eleganza della memoria. Le arti decorative nel moderno Giappone
La Sala Bianca, in Galleria Palatina al primo piano di Palazzo Pitti, ospita invece opere dei più famosi artisti giapponesi del Novecento, in particolare della seconda metà del secolo, quasi tutti nominati dal governo giapponese ‘tesori nazionali viventi’, il riconoscimento che fin dal 1950 viene assegnato per preservare tecniche e abilità artistiche.

Innovativi per concezione e per design, i lavori e i manufatti esposti esprimono stretti legami con la tradizione artistica classica del Giappone, sia per quanto riguarda le tecniche che i materiali: splendidi kimono, eleganti contenitori rivestiti della celeberrima lacca giapponese, ceramiche di elevata qualità, metalli dalle eleganti patine, notevoli e originali intrecci di bambù.

Giapponismo. Suggestioni dell’Estremo Oriente dai Macchiaioli agli anni Trenta
La terza mostra, dal suggestivo titolo ‘giapponismo’ si snoda nei locali della Galleria d’arte moderna e illustra la profonda influenza che la cultura nipponica ebbe sull’arte italiana tra la metà dell’Ottocento e i primi decenni del Novecento. Il Giappone era infatti rimasto isolato dal resto del mondo per oltre due secoli, aprendosi soltanto verso il 1860.

Da allora, grazie alla presenza di padiglioni giapponesi alle Esposizioni universali e alla permanenza di europei e statunitensi nel Paese del sol levante, l’interesse degli occidentali per le arti e la cultura del Giappone crebbe e si diffuse velocemente, diventando in certi casi una sorta di mania. Pensiamo per esempio all’arredamento, all’oggettistica e all’artigianato, dai ventagli ai kimono, ai paraventi. E, in campo strettamente artistico e pittorico, alle xilografie policrome di maestri come Utamaro, Hokusai e Hiroshige, ai quali si ispirarono anche i grandi delle avanguardie europee come Whistler, Manet, Degas, Vang Gogh, Gauguin e Monet.

Molti importanti artisti italiani accolsero e coltivarono il ‘giapponismo’, che influenzò musicisti come Puccini e Mascagni e pittori quali De Nittis, i macchiaioli toscani Fattori, Signorini e D'Ancona e altri esponenti dell’arte italiana di tutte le regioni: Tranquillo Cremona, Vittore Grubicy, De Pisis, Cambellotti, Michetti, Balla, Boldini, Cavaglieri. Non ultime, le maggiori manifatture del tempo, come la Richard Ginori, le vetrerie di Murano e le ceramiche di Galileo Chini. In mostra sono presenti opere di tutti questi artisti, affiancati da preziosi oggetti giapponesi. Un confronto e un incontro da non perdere.

Titolo della manifestazione: Giappone, Terra di incanti
Luogo: Palazzo Pitti, piazza dei Pitti, Firenze
Periodo: dal 3 aprile al 1° luglio 2012
Orario: Galleria Palatina e Galleria d’arte moderna, martedì – domenica: 8.15 – 18.50, chiuso il  lunedì
Museo degli Argenti, lunedì – domenica: aprile e maggio 8.15 – 18.00;  giugno e luglio  8.15 – 18.50, chiuso primo e ultimo lunedì del mese
Prezzo: Biglietto della mostra, che consente l’ingresso anche alle collezioni stabili dei musei di Palazzo Pitti che l’accolgono, oltre al Giardino di Boboli, con validità 3 giorni
intero: € 18.00
ridotto: € 9.00 (per i cittadini dell’U.E. tra i 18 ed i 25 anni)
gratuità per i cittadini dell’U.E. sotto i 18 e sopra i 65 anni
Info e prenotazioni: Firenze Musei 055.290383 -  firenzemusei@operalaboratori.com - www.unannoadarte.it 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

L’esposizione ‘Americani a Firenze’ mostra la città dipinta da giovani artisti americani fra Ottocento e Novecento



Chi visita Firenze quest’anno non può perdere l’occasione di scoprire i forti  legami che la città ha intessuto con la cultura americana e con alcuni grandi artisti d’Oltreoceano. A 500 anni dalla morte di Amerigo Vespucci è infatti in agenda nel capoluogo una serie di eventi e manifestazioni che celebra l’Anno vespucciano, dedicato alle influenze storiche e artistiche instaurate con il Nuovo Mondo.

La mostra ‘Americani a Firenze’, aperta dal 3 marzo al 15 luglio 2012 a Palazzo Strozzi, punta i riflettori su giovani pittori che fra la metà dell’Ottocento e il primo conflitto mondiale soggiornarono e vissero nella città culla del Rinascimento. Sono esposti capolavori di John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Frank Duveneck, William Morris, Hunt, Frederick Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Julian Alden Weir, Thomas Eakins, Robert Vonnoh, Edmund Charles Tarbell, Joseph Pennell, Cecilia Beaux and Elizabeth Boott Duveneck.

Firenze ebbe un forte impatto su questi artisti che a loro volta lasciarono un segno indelebile nella cultura della città che, capitale d’Italia dal 1856 al 1870, alla fine del XIX secolo era dinamica e cosmopolita. Questa mostra invita turisti, visitatori e cittadini a esplorarla attraverso lo sguardo di quei giovani intellettuali americani.

Affascinati dal mito dell’arte, della storia e del paesaggio naturale italiani, di cui avevano solo letto e sentito parlare nei salotti e nelle accademie, questi artisti e artiste vennero in Toscana per apprendere le ultime tecniche pittoriche, studiare storia dell’arte e immergersi in un’atmosfera mediterranea fatta di luci e colori irresistibili all’occhio del pittore. E pur essendo stati difensori del centro storico e medievale fiorentino, all’epoca oggetto di progetti di riqualificazione urbana, abitarono prevalentemente sulle colline, tra le ville, i giardini all’italiana e la ricca vegetazione creando opere e racconti che contribuirono a diffondere oltre Atlantico il mito della Toscana e dell’Italia.

Tutto questo è contenuto nell’avvincente repertorio di immagini esposte a Palazzo Strozzi, che comprende ritratti dalla forte intensità psicologica, paesaggi naturali, scene di vita all’aria aperta o di tranquilla intimità domestica. Opere che risentono della formazione accademica americana, del confronto con l’impressionismo francese e con le tele dei pittori italiani più sensibili agli effetti di luce: i macchiaioli e i naturalisti toscani.

Attraverso questi dipinti sarà inoltre possibile ricostruire la vita e l’attività degli americani a Firenze e quella di intellettuali, collezionisti, scrittori che da loro furono anche ritratti, da Henry James a Vernon Lee.
‘Americani a Firenze’ è anche una mostra con una forte componente femminile, dove le donne sono spesso rappresentate con vestiti bianchi per esprimere  innocenza e purezza ma altresì emancipazione, fiducia e speranza nel futuro, come prometteva la giovane nazione americana.

La mostra a Palazzo Strozzi è infine una meta ideale anche per le famiglie. Sono state previste iniziative per i bambini, da specifiche didascalie ad audioguide differenziate. Completano l’offerta un kit di testi e giochi e una sala lettura attrezzata per leggere e conversare d’arte.


Americani a Firenze. Sargent e gli impressionisti del Nuovo Mondo
Luogo: Firenze, Palazzo Strozzi, piazza Strozzi.
Periodo: dal 3 marzo-15 luglio 2012
Orari: tutti i giorni dalle 9.00 alle 20.00, iovedì dalle 9.00 alle 23.00
Informazioni:  +39 055 2645155      www.palazzostrozzi.org
Prezzo Biglietti:  intero € 10,00; ridotto € 8,50; € 8,00; scuole € 4,00

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Italian Companies responding to the crisis through hard work and commitment: an interview with Antonella Rossi

(Transcript translated)
Who is Antonella Rossi? Could you tell us about your current company?
Beginning professionally as a tailor in the family, from 1950 in Empoli, in a drapery shop run by Rino Rossi and Anna Fabiani Rossi. Together with my sister Lina, I created my first collection of hand-made and embroidered couture bridal gowns called “AnnaLina”. We use the art of cutting and embroidery; elements that have always characterized the production in the workshop, which is now in its third generation. This is a tailor shop where the search for fabrics, fancy embroidery, love for lace, and the frills and ruffles are the rouches and volants and the key features in the construction of a dress. Be it wedding, cocktail or ceremonial; we use traditions handed down over time, with pride, from mother to daughter.
Today the Antonella Rossi brand is present in many countries. This is with the help of my three daughters, Erika, Anna and Julia. The distribution is in selected, upmarket shops, scattered around Europe, the United States, the Middle East and China. For the more discerning customers, a "tailor one-to-one" service is offered within the customer’s home in every corner of the world.
The workshop, located in a charming building in the heart of Rome, includes a very feminine and glamorous collection, designed for the modern and dynamic woman, committed to work and family. 
Strong points: the lines are wrapped and sexy, using soft and delicate fabrics like jersey and lightweight satin or taffeta, and the Mikado

Can you separate your public and private lives; can you disconnect from work or is it with you 100% of the time?
During working hours, my work absorbs me completely and I am unable to attend to my personal life. In my free time though, I devote myself to my passions: painting, sculpture, music and theatre.

How has your job changed since you started?
I started to work early because I found myself catapulted from morning to evening, having had a significant loss in the family, I tried to follow my way of doing business by associating the concept of art, fashion and culture. The biggest change occurred in the last two years because the aim of my project is to gain visibility abroad and thus open up new markets.

What are the biggest problems in running a business as an entrepreneur?
The main problem is access to credit facilities and European funding: Unfortunately in this society, the entrepreneur is often alone and has to deal with an important sense of responsibility towards people who work for them.  So two aspects: difficulty finding investments for growth and sense of responsibility toward employees.

You've been struck by the "disease of the century." Do you want to talk about this? And especially how it changed your relationship with your work?
Regarding this question my answer is "yes", it has changed my relationship with work, both physically and financially: surely I can testify on both issues that I came out stronger and more determined.

What are the future projects for your company?
The biggest project that I'm pursuing right now is to present the Antonella Rossi brand as a brand of the world.

This question is quite rhetorical but inevitable: that this country needs to become modern? Especially that politicians should?
From my point of view, the way in which the Italian system was brought forward does not work. To improve our country's system we should leverage on what we are good at: tourism, cuisine, the arts, and, last but not least, fashion. Fashion is where I wish to move up to place me in an important position amongst the small and medium enterprises in crafts and ultimately, our story will be… The excellence of MADE IN ITALY.

You live in Rome: how is your relationship with this city? You're not originally from Rome ...
Coming from a situation where one breathes the Tuscan Renaissance, living in Rome means living in a city where the empire is felt in every corner. The best thing to do is to see it again through tourists’ eyes, and then discover the wonders and enjoy all that surrounds me... no wonder it is called the Eternal City

A word of advice to young people who are looking for work
The youth are our future and our hope. I would advise them to study and enter the workforce during university to pursue the goal they have set; always aim high; and that any job will do.