Since March Florence has been discovering and celebrating American art in two interesting exhibitions held in Palazzo Strozzi, "Americans in Florence.
Sargent and the American Impressionists", which we wrote about in the March issue and "American Dreamers.
Reality and Imagination in Contemporary American Art", which will be open until 15th July, 2012.
A play on the delicate symmetries between the modern and the contemporary, to which the management of Palazzo Strozzi has agreeably accustomed us for some time now with its intensive exhibition calendar.
With the "American Dreamers" exhibition, mounted in the halls of the Strozzina Contemporary Culture Centre, the works by eleven contemporary American artists are offered, all with a clear theme of the American Dream in contrast with a controversial and complex present.
The imagination of the artists proposes alternative worlds faced with a reality that, following the sad events of 11th September 2001, will never be the same again.
For some, the creation of fantastic worlds is their own personal critique of contemporary society; for others, it allows alternative solutions to be created in which one can find meanings and values that now seem to have been lost.
The thread that links each of the works on display, all of which are very different to one another, is something that very much resembles a desire to try and build a new world with one's own hands, one that is composed of certainties, little or large.
From the miniature worlds of Thomas Doyle, who reproduces pre- or post-apocalyptic scenes imbued with disturbing atmospheres, precarious cases just as our reality is now precariously poised, strewn with fears, dread and permanent fragility, to spectacular costumes, genuinely wearable sculptures, made from recycled materials by Nick Cave; the delicate and dreamy watercolours by Laura Ball; a world vision of sweets by Will Cotton; the parallel and fantastic universe of Mandy Greer; and the dreamlike feminine figures of Adrien Broom.
The fragile creations in recycled wrapping paper by Kirsten Hassenfeld are also extremely interesting or the reflection on the relationship between humankind and nature by Christy Rupp, who creates sculptures of extinct animals with organic materials gathered from the waste of modern society, as well as the imagination of Richard Deon, inspired by old books of text; the miniature environments of Patrick Jacobs, seen through the little portholes on the wall; and, lastly, an now non-existent idyllic world reproduced by Adam Cvijanovic.
Each of these artists, using very different methods, at times also in bitter contrast with one another and through their own personal critique of contemporary reality, make us think about the universe and life in a new and surprising exhibition.
They all share one characteristic, namely that they are artists who live completely in the contemporary with new ideas and, in spite of this, they all feel the need to go back and work in their studios, in a private and more intimate atmosphere.
It is as if this generation of artists were reaching a crisis point with that American Dream, which to date had formed the basis of world interpretations by contemporary art.