The Florence Art Exhibit Everyone’s Talking About

A new exhibit at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi has everyone talking… Divine Beauty from Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana, an eclectic mix of religious and modern art, promises to delight everyone from art lovers to Pope Francis, whose favorite artist, Marc Chagall, is heavily featured. The exhibit, which runs through January 24, 2016 explores the  relationship between art and religion in modern works.

More than 100 pieces spanning about as many years – from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries – convey religious themes through the lens of vastly different art movements. Realism, Divisionism, Symbolism, Expressionism, Secessionism and Futurism, displayed side by side, offer a comprehensive portrait of the artistic landscape of the time and fascinating, varied interpretations of religious topics.

The paintings, prints and sculptures are loosely grouped by theme and chronology, highlighting the contrast between the artistic styles. Subjects include the Virgin Mary, the crucifixion of Christ and prayer, with most of the paintings depicting them in a nontraditional manner. Besides the artists in its title, the exhibit features Italians Domenico Morelli, Emilio Vedova and Gaetano Previati as well as Picasso, Henri Matisse  and Edvard Munch, among others.

Of special importance is the display of Chagall’s paintings, as Pope Francis is a fan of the artist and has said his favorite painting is Chagall’s White Crucifixion (pictured above)a condemnation of the Nazis’ crusade against Jews painted in 1938.  Pope Francis will visit Florence in November– no word on if he plans to swing by, though.

Palazzo Strozzi is a Renaissance palace built for Florentine merchant Filippo Strozzi in 1538, and stayed in the Strozzi family until 1937. It has housed major temporary art exhibitions since World War II and currently displays three exhibitions per year. The institution borrowed pieces from around the world to complete the current collection, including the Art Institute of Chicago (White Crucifixion), the Vatican (Van Gogh’s Pietà, 1889), the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (Angelus by Jean-François Millet, 1859) and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome (Crucifixion by Renato Guttuso, 1941, and Contemporary Crucifixion – Cycle of Protest no. 4 by Vedova, 1953).

The palazzo is open daily and has extended hours on Thursday (until 11 p.m.) Tickets can be purchased online and are 11€ — Elaine Murphy