Bill Viola Mixes Video Work With Old Masters In Florence Exhibition

Bill Viola, will be presented at The Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in a significant exhibition celebrating this unchallenged master of video art, exhibiting works that span his long career. The event will resonate with the architecture of Palazzo Strozzi (From 10 March to 23 July 2017). In order to create a unique experience, the exhibition will also include masterpieces of the Renaissance. It will be on view.

The survey exhibition, curated by Arturo Galansino, director of the Palazzo Strozzi, and Kira Perov, executive director of Bill Viola Studio, reviews a career invariably marked by a combination of technological research and aesthetic reflection. It includes works beginning with his early experiments with video in the 1970s right up to the large installations of the 2010s that have drawn the public’s attention with their strong impact on the senses. In a totally unprecedented layout, the exhibition will also use the Renaissance context of Palazzo Strozzi to fuel an extraordinary dialogue between the classic and the contemporary through the juxtaposition of Viola’s work and masterpieces by great artists of the past that have served as sources of inspiration for this American artist and marked the development of his style.

“I am so happy to be returning to my Italian roots and to have this amazing opportunity to repay my debt to the great city of Florence” – Bill Viola

Born in New York in 1951, Bill Viola is internationally recognised as one of the most important contemporary artists, producing video installations, sound environments, and performances that offer the public profound experiences of immersion in space, image, and sound. In exploring spirituality, experience and perception, Viola observes mankind itself; people, bodies, and faces are the leading players in his works, with their poetic and strongly symbolic style in which man is called on to interact with such forces and opposing energies of nature as water and fire, light and dark, the cycle of life and the cycle of death and rebirth.

As the artist has stated: “I am so happy to be returning to my Italian roots and to have this amazing opportunity to repay my debt to the great city of Florence with an offering of my work. Living and working in Florence in the 1970s, I never thought I would have the honor to show in such a distinguished institution as the Palazzo Strozzi.”

Creating an exhibition of Bill Viola’s art in Palazzo Strozzi, in an environment that includes both the Piano Nobile and the Strozzina, also means celebrating the special relationship that the artist has always had with the city of Florence. It was in this city that he continued to develop his career as a video artist when he was technical director of art/tapes/22, a centre for the production and documentation of video from 1974 to 1976, run by Maria Gloria Conti Bicocchi. Palazzo Strozzi will be extending the exhibition experience to other locations in Florence and Tuscany, thanks to important partnerships with museums and other venues in the region, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Santa Maria Novella Church Museum in Florence or the St. Andrea Church Museum in Empoli, where the artist’s work will be on display, further illustrating his rapport with the history and art of Tuscany.

To tie in with the exhibition, Palazzo Strozzi has also created a special collaboration with the Grande Museo del Duomo in Florence. Visitors will be able to purchase a special combined ticket to visit the Bill Viola exhibition in Palazzo Strozzi together with the Baptistry of San Giovanni and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which will be hosting Bill Viola’s Observance (2002) and Acceptance (2008) to tie in with the exhibition. These two works in which Bill Viola ponders on grief and suffering will be displayed to create a relationship with two of the museum’s iconic masterpieces: Donatello’s Penitent Magdalen and Michelangelo’s Bandini Pietà.

The exhibition is promoted and organised by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and Bill Viola Studio with the partecipation of the Comune di Firenze, Camera di Commercio di Firenze, Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi e Regione Toscana, with a contribution from Fondazione CR Firenze, with the support of Banca CR Firenze/Intesa Sanpaolo and the collaboration of Fondation Etrillard.

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