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The (fallen) angels by Anselm Kiefer: the exhibition to see in Florence

Lor let's confess right away: German Anselm Kiefer he is our favorite living artist. And so as soon as we heard that he was going to open his own great exhibition here in Italy, we rushed to Florence to see her. Anselm Kiefer Fallen Angels (until July 21st, perfect to visit during these Easter holidays) set up in the Renaissance spaces of Strozzi Palace with the care of the director Arturo Galansino It's not something to be taken lightly. We are enchanted by every single work, and are a little stunned. We then thought of one mini-guide (in fact, you can already find one on display, very well done, in Italian and English) for those works in front of which it is worth staying a few more minutes (and yes, even taking photographs, although they are of such large dimensions that some nice photos with our cell phones is a challenge).

The artist in one of the rooms of Palazzo Strozzi, photo Ludovica Arcero, SayWho

Ludovica_Arcero

Just five minutes from the Santa Maria Novella station, dodging the crowds of tourists that swarm more than usual in Florence in recent weeks, here we are in front of Palazzo Strozzi: we enter the entrance and immediately the cloister welcomes us Englessturz, (The Fall of the Angel: Kiefer always uses German for the titles of his works), one mammoth installation seven by eight meters made with the most varied materials. Above, the most precious gold leaf, down common clothes (we recognized some tracksuits, a jacket, some jeans, some items from fast fashion)all treated by the artist with a method top secret which makes them rigid and malleable together. What the work represents is immediately clear: above an angel, Saint Michael (the name is written at the top right, in Hebrew) with his finger raised, hunts – as the texts of theApocalypse – the rebellious angels from Heaven. Kiefer, 79 years old, a German who has now moved to France for thirty years (in his gigantic studio on the outskirts of Paris he reconstructed the rooms of Palazzo Strozzi on a one-to-one scale to be able to decide down to the millimeter which works to bring to Florence), he said he was inspired by a painting by Luca Giordano, an Italian Baroque artist, who saw at the Museum of Cadiz, Spain. In this work which reflects the struggle between good and evil, between spirit and matter, it seems to us that we are all a bit fallen angelswith everyday clothes.

The cloister of Palazzo Strozzi

The cloister of Palazzo Strozzi “occupied” by the imposing work of Anselm Kiefer Engelssturz, Fall of the Angel ©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

Let's go up to first floor of Palazzo Strozzi, where the rest of the exhibition continues. Obligatory stop in the second room, which shines with gold. There is a work by Kiefer from several years ago, Sol Invictusfrom 1995, is the black and white one below, in which sunflowers they are not yellow but now black, with i ripe seeds, and they fall (literally: the paint is a paste with seeds of the plant) on a lying man. Next to it, a work also dedicated to sunflowers, among those that Anselm Kiefer created a few months ago: the entire background is golden, gigantic sunflowers celebrate light and life (how can we not think of those, so different, of Van Gogh?). Kiefer is super-cultured and for those who want to delve deeper into the references we add that it is a cycle of works that he dedicated to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as Heliogabalusa young and controversial Roman emperor of the third century (he was murdered by the Praetorians in a conspiracy!) who wanted to introduce the cult of the Sun god to Rome.

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

Let's take a leap forward into room 6, the heart of the entire exhibition. Here, in a spectacular installation entitled Verstraihlte Bilder, Irradiated Paintingswith 65 works created between the mid-eighties and 2023, Anselm Kiefer occupies all the walls, including the ceiling which we see reflected in the table in the center of the room in a vertigo of colours, of images, of mixtures. The works are tough: in one you can see the symbol of radiation and in fact Kiefer subjected the pictorial layer of the canvases to real chemical radiation which, over the years, are causing the works to fade and deteriorate. It's his way of telling us how fragile existence is (and how much damage human beings can do to Planet Earth).

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

We close our mini-guide by going back one room, to 5, which you see here in the photo below. It is the most original of the entire exhibition: in the image they cannot be seen well (and in person the effect is different) but the floor in the display case is littered with teeth! Above, molten lead refers to the creative process: lead and metals are among Kiefer's favorite materials, sort of alchemistOf demiurge contemporary. The teeth on the bottom refer to the legend of the Argonauts and what happens to certain men when they lose their way: they are condemned to nothingness. In the background, you can see another glittering painting with gods artichokes (the large ones, so to speak) which the artist has made eternal with gold leaf painting: here the reference is to Cynara, one of the nymphs with whom, according to mythology, Zeus falls in love. Unrequited by the young woman, he transforms her into an artichoke. Kiefer loves ancient myth (but his works are also filled with philosophical and religious quotes). Above all, he believes in art as a continuous form of transformation and metamorphosis. None of his works are ever completely finished because art, like life, is a continuous evolution.

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio

Source: Vanity Fair

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