The Palazzo Strozzi Foundation and the Bargello Museums in Florence present Donatello, il Rinascimento, a prime exhibition memorializing epoch-making masterpieces of the great Florentine artist.
From 19 March to 31 July 2022 the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation and the Musei del Bargello present Donatello, il Rinascimento. This is an iconic and once-in-a-lifetime exhibition that aims to recount the exceptional journey of one of the most significant and prominent masters of Italian art, in juxtaposition with masterpieces by other artists such as Brunelleschi and Masaccio, Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini, Raphael and Michelangelo.
The exhibition marks the flagship cultural event of 2022 in Florence and was curated to commemorate the great Tuscan artist Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello. A leading master in the golden (the fifteenth) century of Italian art, Donatello kicked off the extraordinary period of the Florentine Renaissance along with other favorite artists of the Medici family, such as Brunelleschi and Masaccio.
Master of Material
Donatello’s concept of sculptural art, executed with a figurative sense of power, was never before imagined and beautifully fuses together explorations on different points of views and the revolutionary notions of malleability. Through his works, Donatello revives the idea of sculpture, with a distinctive power of perspective in which he unites the findings on outlooks and a contemporary concept of humankind. His modern and transgressive temperament pushed him to consistently question himself by creating an unforeseeable methodology that provoked the likings of the time.
Over the years, Donatello’s art is progressively noted by a strong poignancy and by an exploration on the psychology of the subjects, such as to involve the public in an almost existential mirroring. The artist creates opuses that adjust to the viewing of the physical existence with an intense appropriation of the models from the past. His story is one of the largest and most multifaceted marvels in the history of art because it is based on an uninterrupted progression of vanquishment. Remarkable in Donatello’s art is the aptness to use varied materials in works that amalgamate poetry and mankind.
Donatello uses marble, stone, bronze, terracotta, wood, stucco, embossed copper, papier-mâché, glass paste and ceramics, often in mixed-media works, and always reaches an astounding outcome that is eloquent. An idiosyncratic medium of his way of proceeding is the so-called “crushed” or “stiacciato”, that is a relief with the slightest disparities with respect to the scene, to suggest a semblance of perspective magnitude through several and very thin degrees of thickness.
Curated by Francesco Caglioti, professor of Medieval Art History at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, and planned as a single exhibition in dual venues, Palazzo Strozzi and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the show is created to honor Donatello in discourse with establishments of Florence and undeniably the whole of Italy. This exhibition works as an effort to reinvent the views on their master pieces in relation through time and space, and in terms of materials, methodologies, and genres. As an effort to finally do justice to the artist’s ubiquitous proportions.
The show hosts around 130 works which include sculptures, paintings and drawings with unique loans, some of which have never been granted before. These coming from almost sixty of the most significant museums and institutions in the world such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery in London, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna, the Uffizi Galleries, the Basilica of Sant’Antonio in Padua and the Florentine basilicas of San Lorenzo, Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella.
Spread across two locations, Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello National Museum, the exhibition takes one on a journey through Donatello’s lifetime and destiny carved into fourteen sections.
It starts from the beginning and from the dialogue with Brunelleschi, initiating the contrast between the two famous wooden crucifixes from the Basilica of Santa Croce and that of Santa Maria Novella. Then proceeds through to the places for which Donatello worked (Siena, Prato, Padua and Florence), coming into interchange with other famous artists such as Mantegna and Bellini. The exhibition draws to a close with a noteworthy section dedicated to Donatello’s impact on later artists, including Raphael, Michelangelo and Bronzino.
At Palazzo Strozzi, the exhibition unravels in a sequential and theme-based track that regenerates the artistic biography of Donatello through one hundred masterpieces such as the David in marble and the Attis-Amorino, the Spiritelli of the Prato Cathedral, the Crucifix, the Miracle of the Mule and the Imago Pietatis of the main altar of the Basilica of Sant’Antonio in Padua, as well as many works from celebrated foreign museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York or the National Gallery in London.
At the Bargello National Museum, the planned course incorporates iconic works by Donatello from the marble San Giorgio, with the crushed relief of the San Giorgio emancipating the princess, to the bronze David in comparison with the Filippo Scolari known as Pippo Spano and with the Farinata degli Uberti, frescoes by Andrea del Castagno, from the Uffizi Galleries, then the David Martelli by Desiderio da Settignano, on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, to continue with the Madonna of the Clouds of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Madonna Dudley from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Madonna della Scala by Michelangelo from the Casa Buonarroti Foundation in Florence.
The exhibition concludes with a special section dedicated to Donatello’s influence on subsequent artists, including Raphael, Michelangelo and Bronzino, thus testifying the capital importance of his work for the evolution of Italian art.
From the Team
“Dedicating such a large monographic exhibition to Donatello is a unique challenge, for which we are truly grateful to the generosity of so many lenders. The exhibitions named after him so far have mostly been done by exhibiting copies or limiting the choice of originals to a few pieces. Donatello, perhaps the most daring sculptor of all time, is an artist with a very strong monumental vocation, even when he works in small formats. Finding in the rooms of Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello numerous works that are still in the large spaces of churches and squares, or that were originally there, invites the curators and the public to the exciting experience of ideally relocating these masterpieces in their ancient contexts, imagining the shocking effects that Donatello was able to activate in his contemporaries”.says curator Caglioti.
“The Bargello National Museum has always housed the most important nucleus of Donatello’s works in the world and the setting up of the Donatello Hall, built between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, left a new museographic face on the ancient Palazzo del Podestà. The Donatello, il Rinascimento exhibition, extraordinary in terms of the number of works exhibited in the two venues and the breadth of unpublished comparisons offered to the public”says Paola D’Agostino, Director of the Bargello Museums.
Donatello, The Renaissance
until 31 July 2022
Piazza degli Strozzi
Thursdays until 11pm
Musei del Bargello
Via del Proconsolo, 4