jan fabre unfolds spiritual guards across a piazza, palazzo and fort in florence jan fabre unfolds spiritual guards across a piazza, palazzo and fort in florence
may 31, 2016

jan fabre unfolds spiritual guards across a piazza, palazzo and fort in florence

jan fabre unfolds spiritual guards across a piazza, palazzo and fort in florence 
(above) image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

 

 

 

jan fabre: spiritual guards
piazza della signoria; palazzo vecchio; forte belvedere, florence 
now through october 2, 2016 

 

 

across three sites in the city of florence — forte belvedere, palazzo vecchio and piazza della signoria — belgian artist jan fabre unfolds a multifaceted exhibition of sculpture, drawing, installation, performance, and digital media. ‘spiritual guards’, curated by joanna de vos and melania rossi and promoted by the comune di firenze, comprises nearly one hundred of fabre’s pieces dating from 1978 to present day. the monumental selection includes bronze and wax sculptures, works made of insect wing cases, and two new pieces realized specifically for this exhibition in italy. 

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘searching for utopia’, 2003
photo by mauro sani/angelos bvba, courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

 

 

 

two of fabre’s bronze sculptures are sited at the artistically and historically important piazza signoria. at the center, an oversized turtle with a rider seated on its back greets visitors to the public plaza. ‘searching for utopia’ interacts with the ‘equestrian monument to grand duke cosimo I’ — a renaissance masterpiece by giambologna — situated nearby.

 

outside palazzo vecchio, between the copies of michelangelo’s david and donatello’s judith, fabre’s ‘man who measures the clouds (american version, 18 years older)’, stands proudly. holding a massive ruler above his head, the bronze figure reaches towards the sky, symbolizing the power of the imagination.

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘searching for utopia’
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

 

 

 

in the bastions and villa of forte belvedere, nearly sixty bronze and wax works are presented alongside a series of films that focus on the artist’s historic performances. two sculptural alignments comprising seven bronze scarabs — large dung beetles from the eastern mediterranean region — are placed on the fort’s lookout posts beside a series of full-figure self-portraits of the artist. each of the works maintain their original silicone bronze color, which allows them to reflect the surrounding countryside like a ‘spiritual halo’. the exhibition continues on the first floor of the villa with wax sculptures and films of the artist’s performances in a setting of continuity with both the works outside and the florentine cityscape.

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘searching for utopia’
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

 

 

 

finally, inside palazzo vecchio, a series of sculptures interact with the museum’s frescoes and artifacts. the works include a more than 2-meter diameter globe completely clad in iridescent beetle wing cases. its shape and size is meant to directly interact with the celebrated globe in the sala delle mappe geografiche, made by ignazio danti in the 16th century. 

 

‘spiritual guards’ reflects and encourages a life of heroism, be it in war or unarmed in defense of the imagination and of beauty.

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘the man who measures the clouds (american version, 18 years older)’, 2016
photo by emiliano cribari, image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘the man who carries the cross’, 2015 
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘the man who gives fire’, 2002
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘the man who directs the stars’, 2015
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘series: chapters I-VIII’, 2010
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
detial of ‘series: chapters I-VIII’
photo by mauro sani, image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
figure from ‘series: chapters I-VIII’
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘skull with squirrel’, 2012
photo by mauro sani/angelos bvba, courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
‘globe’, 1997 
photo by emiliano cribari/angelos bvba, courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

jan fabre spiritual guards florence italy
detail of ‘globe’
image courtesy of associazione mus.e firenze

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