The eclectic and shocking exhibition of American artist Rachel Feinstein’s work is on display until Sept. 18
Rachel Feinstein’s distinctive creations have come to Florence for her first ever monographic exhibition in Italy, where her jarring paintings and sculptures are on display across three museums: Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Museo Stefano Bardini and Museo Marino Marini. Her art, which asks its viewer to reconsider notions of beauty and fantasy, femininity and religious iconography, will be showcased in dialogue with the permanent collections contained in each museum until Sept. 18.
Feinstein’s Angels series displays small polychrome sculptures of women in exaggerated poses, positioned to look like Victoria’s Secret angels, from which the artist draws inspiration. They reframe notions of beauty and femininity; uncareful and often messy colors decorate the faces of the feminine sculptures, vibrant and grotesque in contrast with the refined Baroque and Renaissance art that stands opposite them. In fact, in the area of Museo Stefano Bardini in which they stand, lined one after the other on tables in the center of the room, they seem to be confronting the 17th century portraits that stare down on them – in stark contrast, yet also working in conversation, forcing the viewer to synthesize notions of the past with that of the present, asking us to consider the hidden messages behind beauty.
Feinstein draws direct inspiration from Donatello, who’s Renaissance sculptures can be seen throughout Museo Stefano Bardini. Taking influence from his renowned David statues, as well as that of Mary Magdalene, Feinstein forces a dialogue between the religious iconography of the past and her distorted and fantastical sculptures of the present, placing in direct view a modern and feminine perspective, one that was excluded from the artistic scene previously.
Also on display throughout the museum are her lifesize wooden-panel subjects painted atop mirrors with their eyes cut out, vacant to allow the viewer to see their own eyes reflected within them. Their religious imagery draws directly on the tradition of Donatello, yet adds almost a sacreligious element, daring to allow the viewer to see themselves as the martyr reflected back.
Communicating eccentric ideas of beauty, fantasy, and femininity, Rachel Feinstein’s work sparks a compelling discourse about past and present, synthesizing inspiration both from Renaissance art and cartoonish fairy tales, drawing on both the holy and the secular, to create an exhibit that is hard to take one’s eyes from. The viewer leaves the exhibit both dazed and enriched with a new perspective, with much to consider surrounding the compelling questions asked of us by the artist’s creations.
June 9 – September 18
Museo Stefano Bardini, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Museo Marino Marini
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