giovedì 17 aprile 2014

Visible listening: Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino Art Exhibition in Florence

Palazzo Strozzi offers everyone a chance to shape their own encounter with art
Author: Gayane Simonyan

Palazzo Strozzi is hosting a major exhibition entitled “Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. Diverging Paths of Mannerism from 8 March to 20 July 2014. The exhibition is devoted to the work of Pontormo and of Rosso Fiorentino, the two painters: original and unconventional adepts of the new way of interpreting art in that season of the Italian Cinquecento which Giorgio Vasari called the 'modern manner'.

Born in the same year- 1494- just kilometers apart (one just outside Empoli and the other in Florence) and trained in the workshops of the same renowned Florentine masters, Pontormo and Rosso came to be referred to by 20th century scholarship as the twins of the “modern manner” or of “Mannerism”.

Pontormo: Portrait of Cosimo the Elder 1518-9; oil on panel;
87 x 67 cm. Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi.  Cosimo de' Medici sits on a throne bearing his name.
A young bay tree, with one branch cut and another bearing leaves, has a scroll wrapped around it with the motto "uno avulso non deficit alter" meaning "when one is plucked away another shall not be wanting", alluding to the renewal of the Medici Family. The picture may have been commissioned, before his death in 1519, by Cosimo's descendant Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, whose arms were a branch blossoming anew.

Both trained under Andrea del Sarto while maintaining a strongly independent approach and enormous freedom of expression. Pontormo, always a favourite with the Medici, was a painter open to stylistic variety and to a renewal of the traditional approach to composition. Rosso Fiorentino, on the other hand, was more tightly bound to tradition, yet at the same time he was fully capable of flights of originality and innovation, influenced also by Cabalistic literature and esoteric works.

This exhibition opted for a broad and multifaceted overview of the two great painters' masterpieces, according priority to the formal splendour and lofty poetry of Pontormo and of Rosso Fiorentino so that the exhibition appeals in its clarity not only to the specialists in this field but also to a wider audience thanks to themed sections set out in chronological order.
Rosso Fiorentino: Madonna and Child with four Saints 1518; oil on panel;
172 x 141.5 cm. Florence, Galleria degli Uffizzi.
Leonardo Buonafede, master of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, commissioned this altarpiece from Rosso to comply with the last wishes of Catalan widow who left the hospital a legacy.
Intended for a chapel in Ognissanti, Buonafede rejected it because, as Vasari tells us, he thought "all those saints were devils". Rosso left the panel unfinished and it was completed , possibly by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, in a rather slapdash manner: notice Mary's hands on the Christ Child's four eyes.

This is a more or less unique event that brought together for the very first time a selection of masterpieces by the two artists in Italian and foreign collections, many of them specially restored for the occasion.

The exhibition consists of 10 rooms from 4 to 15 pictures in each. There’s also a reading room for those who want to gain a bit more information about the exhibition and the painters.

Starting from the first room you can find the best pieces of the two painters. Specialising in Italian painting from 14th to sixteenth century, the Moretti gallery is honoured to have made possible the restoration of the Visitation by Pontormo.
Pontormo: The Penitent St. Jerome c. 1529- 30; oil on panel; 105 x 80 cm. Hanover,
Niedersächsisches Forstplanungsamt Hannover.
This unfinished painting, like the Madonna and Child, is generally dated to 1529–30 on account of the affinity of both with the Ten Thousand Martyrs that Vasari tells us was painted during the siege. 
Restoration and scientific exams have added to our knowledge of Pontormo’s creative process: using chequering, he would produce a cartoon based on his final drawing, then trace the silhouettes on the panel’s thin layer of priming using a pointed metal chisel. 

The first aim of the exhibition is to attempt to clarify the ideology inclination of the two and their ensuring expressive choices, perhaps taking advantage of the circumstances to prompt renewed caution towards the use of pithy labels that never aid either reflection or dissemination.

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