Gardens and Visions in Tuscan Art

By Innes Jettinghoff, Taylor Williams
Photo by Students of Advanced Digital Photography Course

Home is something that is so deeply imprinted into someone’s brain that it becomes a very easy base to build off of for an artist’s imagination.  Your idea of home consists of every little detail that you grew up with, like the corner store that went out of business 7 years ago, or how one class of people live in a certain part of town.  There are many elements of an artist’s home that can influence their greatest work: visualization is the imaginative tool, which makes artists and entrepreneurs alike change their environment for what they wish it to be. In a place like New York City there are over 8 million people who live throughout the metropolis and the art made there may reflect their diversity. An example can be Edward Hopper, an artist who was born and died in New York. Most of his paintings portray people in their regular city life: this multitude do not have a fully detailed face, they seem like a combination of many similar faces, in which traits is easy to find and create your own double.

Inspiration in Tuscan art also relies in memoirs of home, so the 2019 edition of TuttoToscana is entitled Memoirs of a Tuscan Garden. The ideas of “palazzo” and “villa,” inherited from the ancient Roman times, is a creation of the Renaissance and has been shaping Florence’s people and philosophy for centuries. The palazzo is the urban residence for businesses, where social life is also being cultivated. The villa is the retreat in the countryside including a garden, where you cultivate your soul, learnings, and visions. The garden is the inspirational place where ideas grow, to become reality in the city. This is what the upcoming New York exhibition by TuttoToscana 2019 also highlights. The art show is entitled The Girl Who Counted Ants and it presents illustrations by Andrea Mancini as well as the actual book of the homonym autobiographical journey written by Gabriella Ganugi, President of FUA-AUF. It tells the story of how she grew up observing the steady work of ants that populated her family garden. Over the years, her act of observation and consequent abstraction has given shape to her dreams and passions: she built and successfully continues to add on a system of education which connects Tuscany and New York – as well as other cities and countries worldwide.

The dynamic illustrations by Mancini, are brilliantly conveying the character of “La Gabri.” As our Art and Places class learned from the direct voice of the artist, during the several months while Mancini was trying to synthesize her character for The Girl Who Counted Ants, La Gabri came to life on her own.  Mancini makes clear that being an illustrator is nothing less than being a complete artist. While his artistic background was impacted by graphic design, comics, and graphic novels imported from the US and France, Italy is also the country where the “predellas” of Renaissance altarpieces can be considered the first illustrated graphic novels, to be “read” easily even by children. In addition, Alessandro Botticelli, painter of so many altarpieces and predellas, can be deemed the first graphic novel artist since he gave images to the first illustrated Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Such a historical Florentine tradition of art and text, continuing in the countless illustrated editions – up to the popular cartoon by the American Walt Disney – of Pinocchio by Tuscan artist Collodi, is by no doubt a good soil for Mancini’s art. The exhibition The Girl Who Counted Ants, will take place on October 23rd in NYC.