Public Art in Florence

Millions of tourists flock to Florence every year for its Renaissance art, and though it may be the most widespread artist genre you’ll find in the city centre, the cradle of the Renaissance does boast some fine examples modern & contemporary art – mostly statuary – as public art that you can see in the streets.

Renaissance Art (Flickr / Creative Commons: i_bogin)

In previous video, we showed you some beautiful and quite famous modern public artworks that adorn Florence’s traffic roundabouts. However, there are also a few examples of modern and contemporary art in the historic city centre, scattered among all of the Renaissance statuary and monuments.

Our tour starts in the Oltrarno, on via Maggio, is a marble statue depicting St. Mark, located on the facade of the St. Mark’s English church. It was made and donated in 2008 to the church by artist Jason Arkles, the first American to have a sculpture on permanent public display in Florence.

St Mark by Jason Arkles (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

Just a bridge away, is another statue, located right in front of the Uffizi gallery, between via de’ Bardi and Lungarno Torrigiani. There in a small, underused piazza, you’ll find a recent work in bronze depicting St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. I was made by Giuliano Vangi, an artist from Florence.

St John Baptist by Giuliano Vangi (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

Further down the Arno, in the San Niccolò neighbourhood, is a massive monumental work by famous contemporary Italian artist, Giò Pomodoro. Just east of piazza Poggi is the large totem by  Pomodoro, made in 1997, which honours the great Florentine scientist and astronomer, Galileo Galilei.

Giò Pomodoro tribute to Galileo Galilei (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

On the other side of the city, in Piazza Bambine e Bambini di Beslan, in front of the Fortezza da Basso, is a statuary group in terracotta and marble by Mario Ceroli called Silenzio: ascoltate! It was donated to the province of Florence in 2007, and depicts all of the genuises born in Florence, among them Dante Alighieri, Giotto, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Benvenuto Cellini, Cosimo the Elder, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Amerigo Vespucci, Antonio Meucci and Roberto Benigni.

Mario Ceroli’s “Silenzio: ascoltate!” (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

Finally, making out way back to the historic centre, we can make a final stop in piazza Ognissanti to see the bronze sculpture of Hercules and the Lion. Made by Florentine artist Romano Romanelli, it is a Fascist work from 1935, installed in the square overlooking the Arno in 1937.

“Hercules and the lion” by Romano Romanelli (Credit: Gabriel Reyes)

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