current exhibitions

September 19, 2015

Betty Woodman

curated by Vincenzo de Bellis

September 20 to November 28, 2015

In her more than sixty years of career - 45 of which were spent living halfway between New York and Antella, a hamlet of Bagno a Ripoli – Betty Woodman has been recognized internationally as one of the most significant and influential contemporary artists. Her career began in 1950, when she took on the profession of ceramist with the intention of creating objects whose beauty could enrich everyday life. Since then, the “vase” shape has become an object of study for her, as well as her inspiration and basis for production. To deconstruct and rebuild its form, she created a complex and exuberant body of ceramic sculpture that distinguishes itself for the wide range of influences and traditions, often experienced firsthand during her numerous trips. Over the years, through work that invokes and at the same time challenges the traditional elements of Italian ceramicists, the American artist has imaginatively reinvented the very concept of ceramics, finding her personal and highly authorial place within the contemporary art scene. It is no coincidence that her most recent works - the last 15 years of work covered by the exhibition - has played a vital role for at least one generation of young artists, who have taken her experimental approach that is still respectful of the tradition.

Even though ceramics remains the alpha and omega of her artistic dictionary, through the use of bright colors and eccentric shapes, her works have progressively gone beyond the boundaries of decorative art to forcefully enter into the area of the visual arts, often crossing boundaries into painting: in Woodman's work, a vessel can take the forms of human bodies and animal figures, pillows or flowers, compare a history of different cultures - from Greece to China with Aztec, Etruscan, or Roman references, ranging to the Italian Renaissance or casting classical architectural shadows on objects illuminated by the light of European Pop Art (without ever forgetting the debt to American painting of the 1970s). It is a mix of ceramics and painting, made even more explicit by the recent addition of canvasses with three-dimensional elements, and intentionally emphasized in this exhibition: here Woodman's works could be directly compared with Marino Marini's sculptures, on the one hand - through a staging, in the mezzanine of the museum, which highlights the synergies - and on the other, with the heroic painting adventure of the Florentine Quattrocento - the 15th-century - specially echoed by the work that opens the exhibition, named Of Botticelli from 2013. It is a composition that fills the first room of the exhibition with ceramic fragments that allude to columns wrapped by vines and Renaissance views that open onto imaginary gardens.


The second room is characterized by the dialogue between the most dated work in the show, Theater 3 (2001), and one of the most recent, Lucia's Room (2013), a work in which the combination of painting and ceramic becomes more palpable and one of the recurrent motif of Woodman’s work – the "still life" iconography – becomes more marked.

In the sacellum of the crypt, the iconic shape of the vessel is represented in its most three-dimensional form: Upon Vase Vase, Ariana, 2010 – as the name suggests – subverts the traditional relationship between the sculptural object and its base, while in Aztec Vase and Carpet 1, 2012, the artist plays with perspectives, dimensions and shapes transforming the canvas into a typical household carpet.

In the last room of the crypt, four paintings are on display: four different ways of dealing with the relationships between canvas and sculpture, between collage and painting, between what is included within the frame and what's left out – but also four domestic environments, as suggested by the constant reference to the “room” in the title of the individual works.

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On the second floor the exhibition focuses instead on the close relationships between the work of Woodman and the sculptures of Marino Marini, which are permanently on view at the Museum. Like in a musical score, full and empty spaces alternate. The sinuous and feminine shapes of the vessels (and of their painted motifs) interact with the full forms of the sculptures, also of women, realized by Marini; Woodman’s delicate and fragile ceramics are balanced by the firmness of the plaster and the eternal nature of bronze that marks the production of the Italian artist. Different and far apart, the two artists appear here united by their passion for the creation of forms, made evident by the points of contact between their respective polychromatic approach.

After the Marino Marini Museum, the exhibition will have a second stop at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in London, from February 2 to April 10, 2016, where it will be re-organized and restaged, again curated by Vincenzo de Bellis.


For the double exhibition, a monograph on the artist will also be published, with the purpose of reinterpreting the developments and rediscovering her role within the history of American painting from the second half of the twentieth century to today.

The exhibition is organized with the sponsorship of the OAC Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

Thanks to the collaboration with Antinori Art Project.


Betty Woodman (born in 1930) studied ceramics at the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, from 1948 to 1950. She has received many honours, including the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship of the Study Center in Bellagio, Italy in 1995, in 1980 and in 1986 the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and in 1966, the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship in Florence. She began to teach at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1979 and became a “Professor Emeritus” in 1998. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design in 2009; a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa from the University of Colorado in 2007; and a Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2006. Married to George Woodman, painter and photographer of international fame, she had two children with him, Charles, a video-artist and Francesca, a photographer who died in 1981.

Since 1968, her works have frequently been included in group exhibitions and are part of more than 50 public collections, including: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts, International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon, Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the World Ceramic Center in Ichon, Korea.


photo credits dario lasagni

September 19, 2015

Fredrik Værslev - INNER BEAUTY

curated by Alberto Salvadori

September 20 to November 28, 2015

Opening on Saturday, September 19 at the Museo Marino Marini is the solo exhibition of the Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev (1979), with a project made specifically for the Florentine Museum, curated by Alberto Salvadori.

At the Museo Marino Marini, the artist will present two series of works: the first, a body of paintings loosely referred to as Trolley Paintings together with Glass Paintings, or Glass Sculptures if you like, both these series produced for the occasion. The Trolley Paintings, made with a mechanized striping machine, usually used to mark the lines of athletic fields and borders and to divide the lanes on roads and highways, is in this case moving toward an unusual figurative approach, inspired by the aesthetics, architecture and atmosphere of the crypt of the Museum Marino Marini, the site of the exhibition. 

If the movement and direction appear to be entirely limited by the mechanical function, the paint is also distributed along the surface of the canvas with spraying and leakage outside the straight line, thanks to the machine's occasional malfunctioning. The signs are superimposed in a sort of collage, a composition of the weblike lines that have various atmospheres and transparencies. Following this particular strategy, the artist examines the intersection and the dichotomy that link abstraction, decoration and representation, slipping to the edge of control and joining the tradition of gesture painting which freed artists from the academic and pre-conceptual schemes from the 1950s onwards.

Formally and aesthetically, these works were conceived in response to the works on canvas, and manifest themselves as a kind of secondary pictorial space with respect to them. The Glass Paintings - a body of work which in its shape and function reference a Norwegian folk object stemming from post-war, gypsy handcraft - are works painted on frosted acrylic glass and are brought to life in their transparent and translucent colours by an artificial light, a simple light bulb mounted on a wooden support in perfect harmony with those installed to light the works of Marino Marini, displayed on the first floor of the museum.

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The paint has been added straight out of the spray can in piles on the glass, then pressed to the ground, creating thick patterns that variously got removed with toilet paper, and an ice scraper.

The result of what remains are abstract surfaces, with simple marks that hint at grandiose landscape scenes, once again making the artist’s work a part of the imaginative wake of that entirely Florentine visionary tradition of the working in stone, where nature and artifice have generated landscapes that in some cases never existed and are present in all of our minds. 

For the exhibition, Mousse Publishing will be publishing a monograph developed in partnership with Le Passerelle Centre d'art contemporain de Brest, dedicated to a solo exhibition of Værslev’s work in February 2015, supported by the Giò Marconi Gallery, Milan, Standard (OSLO), Oslo and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

The exhibition is organized with the support of the Region of Tuscany, OAC Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Giò Marconi Gallery, Milan, Andrew Kreps, New York and STANDARD (OSLO), Oslo. The initiative is in collaboration with the Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art under the auspices of the regional project: “Cantiere Toscana Contemporanea”.

Thanks to the collaboration with Antinori Art Project.

Fredrik Værslev was born in 1979 in Moss, Norway. He studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Künste, Städelschule, in Frankfurt and at the Malmö Art Academy in Sweden. He currently lives and works in Drammen. He is director and founder of the Landings in Vestfossen in Norway.

His latest solo exhibitions include: STANDARD (OSLO), Oslo; Le Passerelle Centre d'art Contemporain, Brest; Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York; Luminar Cité, Lisbon; Power Station, Dallas; Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö and Giò Marconi Galley, Milan. 

Group exhibitions include: Astrup Fearnley Musuem, Oslo; Gavin Browns Enterprise, New York; Kunsthall Oslo, Oslo; Le Consortium, Dijon; Lunds Konsthall, Lund; Modern Institiute, Glasgow;  Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St. Gallen; Lunds Konsthall, Lund; Moderna Museet, Malmö; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

photo credits dario lasagni