Palazzo Strozzi in Florence has today unveiled a major new installation by acclaimed French contemporary artist JR, whose site-specific artwork ‘La Ferita’ (‘The Wound’) has reinterpreted the façade of the Renaissance palazzo, opening it up to reveal a vision of an interior at once real and imaginary achieved with a black and white photographic collage to trigger a debate on the accessibility of culture in the age of Covid-19.
The installation launches the Palazzo Strozzi Future Art Programme, a new initiative to support the production and promotion of contemporary art in Italy including an annual public art commission for Florence. The Programme has been developed by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi with philanthropist Andy Bianchedi in memory of his mother, Hillary Merkus Recordati, to provide a much-needed catalyst to the arts at a challenging time by creating an important new commissioning platform for works of art in Italy that aims to celebrate creativity and champion accessibility. More details on future commissions and activities will be announced in the coming months.
‘La Ferita’ Public Art Commission
JR has created monumental photographic collages that have inspired audiences around the world from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro and the Louvre in Paris, to Ellis Island in New York and the top security penitentiary in Tehachapi County, California. This latest work ‘La Ferita’ imagines the Renaissance palazzo with a deep wound revealing the interior of the building with some of Florence’s most iconic artworks occupying the space. Measuring 28 metres tall and 33 metres wide, this monumental photographic collage installation covers the façade of the Palazzo Strozzi and works like an anamorphosis, an illusion in which, observed from a specific viewpoint, various areas of the Palazzo Strozzi – the colonnade in the courtyard, an imaginary exhibition hall and a library – open up as a wound.
By including iconic works of Florence’s art heritage and directly citing real places such as the library of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, JR proposes an evocative reflection on accessibility not only to Palazzo Strozzi but to all cultural sites in the era of Covid-19. Palazzo Strozzi becomes the spectacular stage for a symbolic yet painful wound suffered by all cultural institutions both in Italy and abroad: museums, libraries, cinemas and theatres forced either to restrict audience access or to shut down altogether. Looking ‘inside’ Palazzo Strozzi becomes an act of voyeurism designed to reveal that which cannot be seen: the depiction of a reality that goes beyond what one can customarily behold.
With this latest work, JR also adds a new dimension to his ongoing dialogue with art history by transforming the façade of the Palazzo Strozzi into a ‘Trompe l’œil’, a reference to architectural perspectives and the painted depiction of illusions which, from the 16th century onwards, allowed artists to portray an illusory depth into the thickness of brick or stone by applying their perspective studies to sheer walling.
“Thanks to the generosity of Andy Bianchedi, I am proud to announce the launch of the new Palazzo Strozzi Future Art Programme, which we hope will play a key role for years to come in supporting, commissioning and promoting contemporary art in Italy. Palazzo Strozzi is unique for its determination to forge a dialogue between the classic and the contemporary through the involvement of artists capable of interpreting the present. So it is apt that we launch the Programme with JR’s new work ‘La Ferita’, a powerful reflection on the difficult conditions surrounding access to culture in the age of Covid-19, but also a symbol of freedom, creative imagination and participation and an opportunity to involve the audience, the public at large, in a totally new way. Amid the current difficulties we all face when seeking opportunities to enjoy art in traditional venues, our decision to create an artwork on the façade of Palazzo Strozzi that everyone can enjoy can be seen both as an invitation to rediscover a direct relationship with art and as an encouragement to explore new forms of sharing and participation.”Arturo Galansino, Director General of Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi,
The project is promoted and organised by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and Andy Bianchedi in memory of Hillary Merkus Recordati. Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi supporters: Comune di Firenze, Regione Toscana, Camera di Commercio di Firenze, Comitato dei Partner di Palazzo Strozzi, Fondazione CR Firenze, Intesa Sanpaolo. With the patronage of Institut français Firenze. Thanks to Galleria Continua for their support with JR’s project.