Art and Places: From Renaissance Florence to the Contemporary Metropolis

Professor Lucia Giardino
By Quinn Bauld, Alana Betancourt, and Bianca Carangelo
Photo by Lisa Proteau

Students of the Art and Places: from Renaissance Florence to Contemporary Metropolis class had their first encounter with Florentine artist Andrea Mancini to preview his artwork for the upcoming TuttoToscana event in NYC.

Art and places are connected in countless ways. Art can be a painting, a beautiful architecture, but also a gorgeous view. So art can also become a place, or many places, like Ponte Vecchio, the Florence Cathedral, Piazza della Signoria, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Without the great artists of our past and present, we would not have masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel or the Empire State Building.

In our second day of class today, we met Andrea Mancini, a Florentine artist, soon to exhibit in New York in the contest of TuttoToscana 2018, and from him we have learned many things about his sources of inspiration dating back to the 1960’s.

In the 1960’s, Italy was booming from the economic miracle that occurred after WWII. Boomers, who were teenagers, found themselves with more money than they had been used to. This increased spending dramatically, expanded industry in general, including the food industry. The increased industry also made travel to Tuscany much more common, which allowed many to come and explore its beautiful historic places as well as the new cuisine that had come to existence due to the ability to purchase more expensive ingredients. In 1966, Florence was damaged by an infamous flood, yet this dramatic event moved many foreigners to come to Tuscany to help recover the Renaissance city. Those that helped were called the “Mud Angels”, youths who worked to contribute to the restoration process, and found their Dolce Vita, a sweet lifestyle made iconic by Federico Fellini’s 1960 movie. Ironically then, the flood turned out to work as a new propeller for Florentine pride in maintaining its historical and religious beauty, and young people took part in this Second Renaissance.

Walking in Florence, you might think that it dramatically differs from New York City, where buildings and artwork are very up to date and life is very fast paced. Tuscany seems to live a much more relaxed and slower paced lifestyle.

But both places are appealing to the eye of its citizens and travellers. So despite their overall differences, both cities are able to convey meaning and experiences contemporary to our own time.

Even if we have been here for just a few days, we have discovered that Florence’s art is not only about statutes, paintings, and architecture of the past: just like New York City, it has its own street art, graffiti, and even contemporary art, yet it is the renovated care of its visitors and locals that always makes it glamorous.

Follow our journey from Florence to NYC on Facebook.