The donation received by the Uffizi Galleries from Ardengo Soffici's heirs, a self-portrait of the artist, triggered interest and the consequent realisation of an exhibition dedicated to him, focusing on the historical-artistic period in which he was a figure of central importance. Indeed, Ardengo Soffici (Rignano sull'Arno, Florence 1879 - Vittoria Apuana, Forte dei Marmi 1964) was a painter, writer, polemicist, and art critic with a direct and incisive tone who focused his research striving to update the Italian figurative painting. Therefore, it is not surprising that his work in various cultural initiatives (including the first Italian exhibition of Impressionism held in Florence in 1910), especially in the first two decades of the 20th century, was fundamental in instilling a new sense of innovation and modernity into the almost fossilised, if not entirely, Italian art scene of the time. Hence, the exhibition, organised in the Uffizi Gallery of Statues and Paintings, is not yet another monographic exhibition but an accurate reconstruction of Soffici's analysis, polemic discourse and intellectual commitment that finds its visual counterpart in those very artworks that were indeed fundamental to his research and artistic growth. It is no coincidence then that the backbone of this exhibition is Soffici's memorable book Scoperte e Massacri (Discoveries and Massacres), a highly significant collection of writings on art published in Florence in 1919. For instance, the year of publication is as decisive as its content, symbolising how Italy, after the end of the First World War, was at an artistic crossroads between the European avant-garde and the era of the "return to order". The exhibition thus traces Soffici's diversified artistic experience, navigating through his Cubist, Cezanne-inspired, Expressionist, Futurist, and purely figurative inspirations. Among the artworks exhibited, in addition to those created by the artist himself, there are others by Segantini, Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso, Medardo Rosso, De Chirico and Carrà, and they have been chosen precisely according to Soffici's predilections and aversions. In other words, just like in the book. Therefore, the exhibition narrates the art of the early 20th century within a different context from the usual one of the Modern Art Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, highlighting the dialogue between ancient and modern expressions flourished in the Medici collections, permanently in evolution.
The exhibition, curated by Vincenzo Farinella and Nadia Marchioni, who also wrote the catalogue published by Giunti, is promoted by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the Uffizi Galleries, the Uffizi Gallery of Statues and Paintings and Firenze Musei.
Discoveries and Massacres. Ardengo Soffici and the Avant-Garde in Florence
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
27 September 2016 - 8 Janaury 2017
The exhibition is curated by Vincenzo Farinella, Nadia Marchioni
Exhibition catalogue by Giunti (Italian only).
Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Firenze Musei