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Michelangelo e IL novecento michelangelo and the 20

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Florence, Casa Buonarroti, 18 June-20 October 2014
Modena, Galleria Civica, 20 June- 19 October 2014


Press Release No. 2
On Thursday 19 June 2014 at 9pm at the Palazzina dei Giardini di Modena, “Michelangelo e il Novecento” will open. The Modenese section of the exhibition will be presented by the Fondazione Casa Buonarroti of Florence and by the Galleria Civica di Modena to mark the the 450th anniversary of the death of the artist. While the Florentine venue will feature works ranging from the start of the last century up until the 1970s, the Palazzina dei Giardini will host the more recent works showing the influence of Michelangelo on contemporary artists, right up to the present day.

The Modenese section – which will also include two original drawings by Michelangelo on loan from Casa Buonarroti – focuses exclusively on sculpture and, in particular, on a number of iconic works that have crossed time, language and poetics: the Pietà, his David, Moses, and the Dying Slave. The exhibition itinerary opens with Jan Fabre’s “Merciful Dream (Pietà V)”, entirely in white Carrara marble, constituting a life-size reproduction of the Pietà sculpted in 1499. The work presents the face of the Virgin Mary transformed into a skull and that of Christ replaced by a likeness of the artist himself. At its debut in Venice in 2011, it appeared disrespectful to some, if not indeed blasphemous. On the contrary, it may be read as a touching mediation on death, and an extremely human representation of maternal suffering, of a desperate plea to be allowed to forsake her own life for that of her son.

Kendell Geers also draws on a well-known Michelangelo model, again respecting the actual size, yet his David (‘Relic 2’, 2002) is made using a rather different subatance, one which alludes ironically to the colour of the original material, while unlike it in terms of all its other qualities: polystyrene, onto which white and red building site tape is applied. The artist underlines the transformation of the work into a fetish of mass consumption, a kitsch icon, that work which the protagonists of ‘Audience’ by Thomas Struth – visitors to the Academy Gallery, hot, tired and often secretly bored – rush to visit, as Marco Pierini writes in the catalogue, “almost out of a foregone sense of duty, to satisfy a collective rite of which they come across more as victims than perpetrators,” rather than out of a conscious choice.

On the other hand, Yves Klein’s “L’Esclave (d’après Michel-Ange), (S 20)” projects Michelangelo’s statue into another, ethereal dimension, one which seems to go against the very values intrinsic to sculpture. The deep blue in which the little plaster work is covered subtracts the work from all forms of contingency, dressing down its material consistency and broadening its conceptual reach.

The following room is entirely dedicated to Robert Mapplethorpe, with images that portray the well-known models of the American photographer: Ajitto, Thomas and Lisa Lyon. Their sculpted, muscly nudity – portrayed in modelled poses with strict formal equilibrium – explicitly references the physicality of the bodies painted, sculpted and drawn by Buonarroti, an artist whom Mapplethorpe – defined in a poem by Patti Smith as no less than “the boy who loved Michelangelo” – took as an ideal model for his own work. As so it is alongside his black & white shots that it has been decided to place the first of Michelangelo’s sheets on display: a torso virile, ink, dated to around 1524-1525.

Lastly, a small section is given over to the rendering of Michelangelo’s work through photography. Both the image of the statue of Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli, (Rome) by Ico Parisi, dated 1958, and the large group of photos by Aurelio Amendola dedicated to the New Sacristy of St Laurence in Florence, taken from the volume “Un occhio su Michelangelo with which the photographer also won the Oscar Goldoni Prize in 1994 in Modena, belong to the Collection of the Galleria Civica di Modena. Amendola’s pondered shots capable of highlighting the various textures of the surfaces just as much as the sculpting of the shapes, go side by side with the other drawing by Michelangelo, depicting his own tomb monument studies for the Sagrestia Nuova (c.1520).

The section is completed with the “Pietà Rondanini” (2011) by Gabriele Basilico, an image in which the sculpture, immersed in the shadows, appears to be struck by a strong direct light which gives it a sense of weightlessness, underlining its spatial isolation, thus figuratively enucleating the solitude of Christ and the Virgin Mary).

The exhibition comes to a close with the great masterpiece by Michelangelo Antonioni, the short film entitled “Lo sguardo di Michelangelo” (“The Gaze of Michelangelo” 2004), in which the filmmaker finds himself for the first time in front of the camera, the protagonist of a mute yet close, exclusive and totalising dialogue with the statue of Moses. The gaze of Michelangelo (Buonarroti) pours forth from Moses’ eyes, while the gaze of Michelangelo (Antonioni) from the lenses of his glasses. Thanks to the frequent use of point-of-view shots, the spectator has the impression of looking onto the sculptural complex through the eyes of Antonioni, and Antonioni through the gaze of Moses, although we are unable to join in with the ongoing dialogue, the intimacy of which is not ours to violate.

The artists on show at the Galleria Civica di Modena: Aurelio Amendola, Michelangelo Antonioni, Gabriele Basilico, Jan Fabre, Kendell Geers, Yves Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ico Parisi and Thomas Struth.
In the photo: Jan Fabre, Merciful Dream (Pietà V), 2011, (Series : PIETAS), white Carrara marble, 190 x 195 x 110 cm / Base: 270 x 40 x 180 cm. Installation view: PIETAS (1 Jun 2011-16 Oct 2011), Photo Pat Verbruggen, (detail:) Private collection, © Angelos bvba

curated by Emanuela Ferretti, Marco Pierini and Pietro Ruschi

venue Florence, Casa Buonarroti, (via Ghibellina, 70) 18 June- 20 October 2014
Modena, Galleria Civica, (Palazzina dei Giardini, corso Canalgrande) 20 June-19 October 2014

openings Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Tuesday 17 June, 6pm
Modena, Galleria Civica, Palazzina dei Giardini, Thursday 19 June 9pm

press preview Florence, Casa Buonarroti: Tuesday 17 June 12pm
Modena, Galleria Civica: Wednesday 18 June 11.30am

organisation/production Fondazione Casa Buonarroti di Firenze
Galleria Civica di Modena
Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze
Associazione MetaMorfosi, Rome
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena

with the contribution of Library of Technological Sciences of the University of Florence

Culture Councillorship of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Council

entrance free

opening hours from 20 June until 11 September 2014, from Thursdays to Sundays from 7pm to 11pm
Special opening on Saturday and Sunday 21 and 22, 28 and 29 June from 5pm to 11pm
from 17 September to 19 October 2014 from Wednesday to Friday from 10.30am to 1pm and from 4pm to 7.30pm
Saturdays and Sundays from 10.30am to 7.30pm
on the occasion of the Festivalfilosofia, Friday 12 September, open from 9am to 11pm,
Saturday 13 from 9am to 1am, Sunday 14 from 9am to 9pm

catalogue Silvana Editoriale, bilingual (Italian/English), with academic contributions from the curators, essays by Andrea Felici, Carlo Francini, Tommaso Mozzati, Alina Payne, Davide Turrini, and a vast selection of images, including the reproduction of all the works on show together with cataloguing information and bibliographical references.
press offices Clp Relazioni Pubbliche, Milan,

Anna Defrancesco, tel. +39 02 36755700,

images and press releases from

Galleria Civica di Modena

Cristiana Minelli, tel. +39 059 203 2883,

images and press releases from the press room on the Gallery website

Casa Buonarroti
Susanna Holm, Sigma C.S.C.
te. + 39 055 2340742,
information Casa Buonarroti, via Ghibellina, 70, Firenze, tel. +39 055 241752, fax + 39 055 241698,

Galleria Civica di Modena
, corso Canalgrande 103, 41121 Modena
tel. +39 059 2032911/2032940 – fax + 30 059 2032932,,

AMACI Museum Member

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