Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bronze Sculpture Florence Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Something amazing has happened in Florence, Italy, and I am surprised at how few of my friends there, knowing that I am a sculptor, have commented to me about it. So, I asked several of them about it. Most seemed a bit reluctant to give me their impressions, although one of my Florentine friends told me that, “Sono due fiumi senza testa e contemporaneamente con molte teste, la cosa però è temporanea e se ne andrà presto” which translates to: “They are two rivers without a head, but simultaneously with many heads. But it is temporarily here and will go away soon.” I tried to get more information from him, but he was more interested in telling me about his latest girl troubles.

What others have pointed out, though, is that historic and rather traditional Florence has for the first time in about 500 years exhibited a monumental work of art in Piazza della Signoria - and it is the work created in our time AND by a non-Italian artist!

59-year old American sculptor Greg Wyatt has his contemporary bronze sculpture titled “Two Rivers” on exhibit near the Palazzo Vecchio, behind the “Biancone” (‘the big white one’, how many fiorentini refer to the stone statue of Neptune).

According to the story in, the city of Florence commissioned this work with a $350,000 grant and the usual political red tape. The artist, a native New Yorker, used Tuscany’s Arno River and New York’s Hudson River as inspiration to symbolize the creative energies shared by the people in these places.

Bloomberg stated that the bronze is 18-feet tall, while The Florentine said 16-feet. “Two Rivers” is a reported 22,000 pounds of a “crusty bronze,” which no doubt was a nod to the great sculptor Giambologna. I would have loved to have been in Florence to witness her installation as she was transported across the Arno and lifted into place with two cranes. And I was amused by architect Pierpaolo Rapana’s observation that if the foundation of Piazza della Signoria can handle Mussolini’s tanks without buckling, then this bronze sculpture should pose no problem.

When Dayna Peterson Mason was planning her trip to Florence, she was given my name by a model that I know. Dayna is an Associate Professor of Art in Riverside, California, and I helped connect her with Italian models for her art pursuits in Florence. Since she is there now, I asked Dayna if she would do me a favor and take some images of Greg Wyatt’s bronze in the piazza for me to post here.

She mentioned how difficult it was to get good images with the diffused light outside that day. In general, Florence can be difficult to photograph because the sun does not see all or for very long. Still, these images can give you an idea of what the “Two Rivers” bronze looks like. For my taste, I like some of the parts better than the whole. But I leave you to decide for yourself. Thank you, Dayna, for sharing this with us!

According to the artist’s site, “The Two Rivers” exhibition will be at the Palazzo Vecchio's Sala d'Armi until November 24, 2009.


Like most things, the concept of yin yang is alive and well in Florence. Some of her locals have told me (not unlike my long-time friend Jamshid had told me about Iran) that there seems to be a constant struggle between maintaining the culture’s great heritage, yet wanting to move into the future.

Now, Florence makes another change, and again, not without some trepidation and controversy. The Florentine just announced that Piazza Duomo is going pedestrian! So, if you have visited the Renaissance City and been annoyed by buses, taxis, or even electric cars in the city’s center, your time has come.

I also understand that the beautiful, historical church of Orsan Michele is open on Mondays now. Free, too. This is great news since too many times that I have tried to go in, she was closed. I love this place, not far from where the madonnari do their street paintings. If you get the chance, go check out this remodelled mercato.

Thanks to Fabio for helping me with my Italian spelling (but no, he is not the friend with the girl troubles!)

October is National Arts and Humanities Month

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Jeanne Rhea said...

I'm with you. I like some of the parts much better than the whole. Of course, seeing it in person could change that.

It's interesting that you mentioned the Piazzo Duomo is going pedestrian. We have a street here in Raleigh that has been changed back and forth at a cost of millions now. Even then, they could not settle on allowing "contemporary art" for the mall area. It has been quite the controversy and has been going on almost as long as we have lived here. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

I can tell you really want to be back in Florence. I don't blame you. I am such a gypsy that I would never settle down if I did not have to have a place to keep a studio. Who knows? Someday I might get serious and learn to really paint or do something that does not require so much different "stuff." At least I will have your report to keep me from dumping everything and traveling!

Off the Coast of Utopia said...

The sculpture is horrible.

Kelly Borsheim said...

hahahaha - I knew that I had at least ONE friend out there who was not afraid to shout out "The Emperor has no clothes!" but seriously, I did not even know that you, Martinho, knew that I wrote a blog, much less read it! (Ahem, your last entry is a great one, but a year old? C'mon, man!)

And Jeanne, let us both go to Florence. Heck, we maybe should move in with Martinho -- he has one of the coolest flats that I have seen there. And the art one can make in that space -- oh la la.

OK, I will quit razzin'

I, too, am interested to see how the "no bus, no taxi" rule will work. There are so many businesses 'in centro' that deliveries (only permitted for a few hours in the mornings, although, as a street painter, i saw too many times how that was ignored) and heavy shoppers might get deterred. Also, after having an art exhibit in the drive restricted zone, I cannot imagine even MOVING my living quarters inside without the aid of a taxi.

One step at a time . . .
Thank you for reading and I love hearing opinions about the art - freely spoken even.

Ciao, ciao!

Kelly Borsheim said...

really, I need to figure out how to find out about these large grant projects. Oh, what I could have created with $350,000.

Any helpers out there in the know ?

Jo Castillo said...

Great post. Hope you find your grant. :)


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