by Melinda Gallo

CÚzanne a Firenze Ŕ una storia d'amore

It's probably a sin in Italy to not go outside when the sun is bursting in the sky like it was today. Even though I was not feeling in top form this morning, I decided to sit on our terrazza (terrace) to enjoy the sun. After a few minutes, I started feeling better. Good enough to visit the CÚzanne exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi.

Living in Florence :: CÚzanne a Firenze Ŕ una storia d'amore

For months now, they have been advertising the CÚzanne exhibit by showing a picture of the "Madame CÚzanne sulla poltrona rossa" (Madame CÚzanne in a red armchair) painting on the backs of the little electric buses that weave through centro (downtown area). I couldn't wait for March to arrive so that I could go and see some "modern" art.

Right after lunch, I walked down via dei Servi, which was practically empty, and then weaved my way through the crowds, enjoying the sights and sun. The steps in front of the Duomo were packed with people sitting down relaxing and sunbathing.

I decided that I had to be at the museum before 3PM because that's when the crowds would begin. I tend to not go out much on Sundays as the streets are filled with shoppers, tourists, and strollers (not baby strollers).

When I arrived, the small area in front of the Palazzo Strozzi was fairly empty. There were only a few people in the biglietteria (ticket office), so the wait was incredibly short. I had thought of buying tickets at the Bancomat (ATM machine) as instructed on the website, but I figured that if I went early enough, I wouldn't have any problems. Besides, it was a beautiful day out and hopefully people would rather go to Le Cascine than go to a museum.

The exhibit began with "CÚzanne a Firenze Ŕ una storia d'amore" (CÚzanne in Florence is a love story). I learned that many of CÚzanne's works were collected by two wealthy American art collectors, Egisto Paolo Fabbri and Charles Loeser, who both moved to Florence and made it their home in 1885 and 1890, respectively. Thanks to these two men, Paul CÚzanne became "the father of modern painting."

CÚzanne was one of the important artists to be represented at the "Prima mostra italiana dell'Impressionismo francese" (First Italian Exhibit of French Impressionism) in Florence in May 1910 along with Degas, Sisley, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Pissaro, Picasso, Matisse, and others.

Many of CÚzanne's masterpieces are on loan from many museums around the world, like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (Russia), and the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne).

I enjoyed seeing the affect that CÚzanne had on Tuscan artists, like Oscar Ghiglia from Livorno and Primo Conti from Fiesole, who was a child prodigy. At the age of 13, he began to work with the Florentine Futurists.

Even though I had to read many of the signs for the paintings over people's shoulders and wait patiently behind groups of people huddled around each painting, I enjoyed the exhibit and learned a lot about CÚzanne as well as Fabbri and Loeser, the two American art collectors. A few of Loeser's pieces in his collection were eventually given to the president of the United States to "adorn the White House."

I am especially pleased to learn that Florence played such an important role in CÚzanne's success as I have only heard about the Italian artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo. It's wonderful to find out that Florence didn't stay cemented in its history, but that many artists moved forward with French Impressionism.

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