The Museo Novecento in Florence: a journey in 20th century art

jenny saville museo novecento florence

An eclectic experience into 20th century art at the Museo Novecento in Florence

Due to being the heart of the Italian Renaissance, Florence hosts a lot of museums full of artworks from that historical period, but the city also opens its doors to other kinds of art; especially more recent genres. From 2014, the Museo Novecento, on the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, is dedicated to Italian art of the 20th century, and not only, since the museum often hosts exhibitions of international artists.

The Museo Novecento offers an eclectic journey to the visitors thanks to the large diversity of the artists on display. The permanent collection of the museum is very broad and begins with the “Alberto della Ragione” collection. This collection covers a great number of artistic themes. The first part is dedicated to landscapes. This art genre was particularly appreciated by the 20th century artists. The selection is composed of works from different Italian artists like Filippo De Pisis, Carlo Carrara, or Mario Sironi and many others. The paintings all represent different kinds of landscapes, for example the Veduta di Cannes of Filippo De Pisis offers the representation of a marine scene while the Paesaggio of Giorgio Morandi represents a typical Italian rural landscape.

jenny saville palazzo novecento florence

The collection continues with a selection of still life works. This traditional genre is always full of meaning through the objects represented. The meaning of those paintings can be very varied but life and death are frequently the main motifs of the works. Renato Guttuso, Corrado Cagli, Mario Mafai, just a few examples of the artists on display at the still life selection.

In the next part, the tour takes another turn with the collection “Sculpted paintings. Painted sculptures.” The works of Lucio Fontana, with his painted ceramics, embody perfectly the will of the 20th century painter and sculptor to create a new path for art that would demonstrate the unity of both disciplines. This selection is also composed of the paintings of Carlo Levi, Giuseppe Migneco, and many others.

jenny saville palazzo novecento florence

The works on display in the permanent collection of the Museo Novecento approach many other themes, and one of them in particular is recurrent in the world of art: the human being. This theme is explored in different ways and one focuses on the female body in the selection “Nudes. The female universe.” The permanent collection also offers a different but interesting point of view in the selection titled “Gestures. Suspended poses.” The paintings and sculptures here represent men and mostly women in determined positions to reveal the anxiety of the models. The last selection of works about humankind is very specific and is focused on faces, giving the title of that selection “Faces. Portraits.” With the apparition of photography, the art of portraiture deeply changed and less and less paintings were made, until the beginning of the 20th century when artists felt the need to go back to the original way of portaitmaking, perfecting tha craft by adding new artistic techniques and knowledge acquired through the years.  

museo novecento florence

The second part of the permanent collection is exclusively dedicated to the artist Ottone Rosai, in the collection “Lascito Ottone Rosai” (“lascito” is the Italian word for bequest). Most of the works on display in that collection come from a donation made by the artist’s widow, Francesca Fei, in 1963. The collection groups different types of paintings realized by the artist. The first category is the incredible series of portrait of the artist’s friends – made between the 1940s and the 1950s. About twenty portraits are on display in the museum. The selection is also composed of some paintings of Florence. Between 1954 and 1955, the artist painted some of the most emblematic monuments of Florence like the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, the Santa Maria Novella’s church, the Palazzo Vecchio and also Santo Spirito’s church. Ottone Rosai even realized a self-portrait in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1955. This selection pays great homage to the master of Tuscan art of the 20th century.

Jenny Saville Temporary Exhibition

jenny saville palazzo novecento florence

As mentioned previously, the Museo Novecento also hosts temporary exhibitions, sometimes of foreign artists, which is currently happening with the exhibition of Jenny Saville opened on the 30th of September. Until the 20th of February 2022, the exhibition invites the visitors to discover the universe of Jenny Saville, an English painter considered a leading voice of the international art scene. The exhibit is a selection of paintings and drawings realized by the artist from the 1990s to the present days.

In her work, Saville represents mostly women, alone or sometimes with children. In fact her entire work is focused on the body; womanhood and motherhood with her personal point of view that emphasizes the weight and the torment of life. In her paintings the portraits of women are painted with a powerful expression, with eyes that seem to be staring at something that recall the difficulty of existence. The chaos of colors and brushstrokes used by the artist reveal a feeling of lamentation in the models. Among the paintings on display in the exhibition, Rosetta II, a work made between 2005-2006, is undoubtedly one of the best example of those emotions. The despair and the pain of this almost scary painting of a young blind women is practically tangible thanks to the cold blue used by the artist.

The drawings of Seville are also very powerful artworks. Even the scenes of motherhood transmit that emotion of tiredness and the difficulty of living, especially for the newborn child who just entered in life. Still in the theme of femininity, the artist also explores figures of unreal women, for example in her drawings about sirens or even mythological characters like her drawing Study after the rape of Europa (2012).

The exhibition is a very intense showcase of Jenny Saville’s work that carry the visitors in an introspective path. The exhibit is a good opportunity to clear your own thoughts and take a moment to think about yourself and your own life.


JENNY SAVILLE EXHIBITION
Until 20 February, 2022

Museo Novecento
Piazza Santa Maria Novella, 10

Opening Hours
(1st of April – 30th of September)
Mon – Tue – Wed – Fri – Sat – Sun: 11am – 9pm. Thursday closed
(1st of October – 31st of March)
Mon – Tue – Wed – Fri – Sat -Sun: 11am – 8pm. Thursday closed

Entry fee
€9,50

Contact
+39 055 286132
museonovecento.it

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