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Jenny Saville’s masterpieces take Florence.

Jenny Saville’s is a widespread exhibition in the heart of Florence. The cradle of the Renaissance welcomes the works of the contemporary English artist in some of the city’s places of interest. The main exhibition takes place at the Museo Novecento, right in front of the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

The building, whose original name is Complesso dello Spedale delle Leopoldine, welcomed the sick and the less well-off until, following a bequest from Ottone Rosai, received by the Municipality of Florence in 1963 at the behest of the widow Francesca Fei and her brother Oreste , has been converted into a museum space.

The exhibition dedicated to Jenny Saville was strongly wanted by the director of the Museo Novecento Sergio Risaliti:

“Saville transcends the limits between the figurative and the abstract, between the formal and the gestural, evincing a contemporary humanism that puts the figure at the center of the history of art. Like no other artist of our time, she has left postmodernism behind to reconstruct a close connection with the great European pictorial tradition, in constant discourse with the modernism of Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly, and the portraiture of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.
The exhibition will reveal a dialogue between Saville and the art and artists of the Italian Renaissance, including some of Michelangelo’s greatest masterpieces. Correspondences include the monumentality of her paintings, a distinctive feature of Saville’s figurative language since the early years of her career, as well as her research focused on the body, on flesh, and on naked female subjects, mutilated or crushed by weight and from existence.”

From the Museo Novecento website

While the core exhibit escorts the visitor through the many spaces of the Museo Novecento, the experience continues in some other locations throughout the city of Florence: Museo di Palazzo VecchioMuseo dell’Opera del DuomoMuseo degli Innocenti and Museo di Casa Buonarroti.

The stunning Salone del Cinquecento welcomes ” the monumental work Fulcrum (1998–99), which established Saville as a major contemporary painter when it was shown in her first solo exhibition, Jenny Saville: Territories, presented at Gagosian in New York in 1999. Here Saville’s great painting will enter into contrasting dialogue with the masterpieces gathered in the sublime setting of the Salone delle Battaglie, which celebrates the victories of the Florentines against their Tuscan opponents and is enriched by the presence of sculptural depictions of the Labors of Hercules (1562-1584) by Vincenzo de’ Rossi, as well as by Michelangelo’s Genius of Victory (1532–34). Formally, Fulcrum is comparable with the language of sculpture, given the work’s monumental dimensions and the plasticity of the figures. The entire surface of the painting is occupied by the bodies, by flesh; the faces and individualities of the three women are barely distinguishable.”

The exhibit is open until the 20th of February, for further info on tickets and COVID restrictions click here.

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