'Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance

10.03 to 23.07.17 Palazzo Strozzi will host the engaging exhibition ‘Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance’: a bridge between Renaissance and video art

From 10 March 2017 to 23 July 2017

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From March 10th to July 23rd the city-central located Palazzo Strozzi houses Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance', an enthralling exhibition where Viola - one of the pioneers of video art - combines in bold contrast paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance with video installations inspired by this artistic period. The exhibition has been curated by Kira Perov, co-author and partner of the New York based artist, and Arturo Galasino, General Director of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation. It houses 26 works spanning Viola’s 40-year-long career, which saw its beginning in Florence in the 70s, where Viola lived from 1974 to 1976, a period that helped the artist find his path in the world of arts and culminated in the discover of digital art. 'Electronic Renaissance' is one of the most-awaited current Florence exhibitions and, according to the author, a way to repay the lily city for its great gift. The Palazzo Strozzi exhibition will be accompanied by an interesting side exhibition that will develop across different locations in Florence but also in Arezzo, Empoli and Carmignano, in the province of Prato.

'Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance' is definitely one of the Florence art exhibitions that can attract a more diverse audience. Its modern and innovative medium will also appeal to younger visitors, more accustomed to smartphone and tablet screens than to oil painted canvases. In the modern contemporary art exhibition, housed between the main floor and Strozzina, Renaissance works will be juxtaposed with art videos, thus creating a captivating and intriguing dialogue between old and contemporary, between the still image on canvas and the flowing one of a digital painting on screen. Bill Viola art often uses the 'slow motion' technique in his videos that drives the visitor towards an equally slow and patient introspection when observing his works. Moreover, in this kind of modern art exhibitions it is the author who sets the timing and pace of the exhibition according to the duration of his videos.

If you want to discover Bill Viola artist, the exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi is a great way to get to know an innovative and amazing author of contemporary digital art. Bill Viola is renowned worldwide as one of the greatest digital art artists. He has a special relationship with Florence, where he took his first steps in his professional career when he was only 23 years old. The young New Yorker, just graduated in 'Visual and Performing Arts ' at Syracuse University, worked at the Maria Gloria Bicochi’s Art/tapes/22’ Galleria production centre where his colleagues nicknamed him 'the American technician'. Bill Viola had arrived in Italy convinced that Art history was boring, but after living in the open air museum that is Florence and wandering around churches and gazing at everything around him, he developed the desire to compare his art with Renaissance works. So the young artist who used to dabble with the camera made the decision, once older and supported by an increasingly advanced technological knowledge, to repay the city that had given him such an important creative input with a whole range of truly exceptional works. His works explore spirituality, experience and perception with images of people, bodies, faces, using a number of recurring elements to convey his artistic messages: nature, water, fire, light, darkness, the cycle of life and rebirth.

Among the works on display at Palazzo Strozzi in this digital art exhibition, 'The Greeting' by Bill Viola is undoubtedly the most representative and was used by the artist for his participation in the Venice Biennale in 1995. It is inspired by Pontormo's ‘Visitation 'and is placed in comparison to the latter in order to incite the visitor to spot similarities and differences. Another work inspired by his stay in Florence is Bill Viola 'Emergence', suggested to the 'electronic painter’ in New York by admiring Cristo in Pietà' by Masolino da Panicale. 'The Dulge' instead communicates with 'Great Flood and the recession of the waters' by Paolo Uccello, whereas 'Man searching for immortality / woman searching for eternity'  makes reference to the paintings of Adam and Eve by Lukas Cranach. The video art works of Bill Viola will literally 'flood' Florence Duomo and will be placed in a number of locations for a must-see exhibition.

At the Museo Opera del Duomo in Florence 'Acceptance' will be displayed and put in relation with the 'Penitent Magdalene' by Donatello. 'Observance' will instead be juxtaposed to 'Pietà Bandini', a masterpiece by Michelangelo. At the Complex of Santa Maria Novella 'The Tempest (study for the raft)' will interact with the 'Flood and Recession of the waters’ by Paolo Uccello exhibited at Palazzo Strozzi but usually located in Chiostro Verde. The video, in which a diverse group of men and women is hit by a strong jet of water is very impressive: some survive, others struggle and a few succumb. Destruction and suffering are the same concepts that, albeit in a different way, are declined in the work of Bill Viola and Paolo Uccello. The Uffizi Gallery instead hosts a peculiar self-portrait of the artist that will be added to those already donated by the museum. In 'Self Portrait submerged' Bill Viola, as the title suggests, is completely immersed in water in what seems to be a shrine. Moving to Montalbano and precisely to Empoli, at the Museum of the Collegiate Church of St. Andrew, where you can usually view ‘Cristo in Pietà’ by Masolino, lent to the Strozzi Palace exhibition from April 6th, you will instead see one of Bill Viola’s works of art. Even in Arezzo at the Ivan Bruschi Gallery, adjacent to the Basilica of San Francesco, which houses the frescoes of Piero della Francesca entitled ‘The Legend of the True Cross’, from May 6th there will be a work by the New York artist on display. Finally in Carmignano, where the 'Visitation' by Pontormo is usually located – temporarily at Strozzi Palace for the Bill Viola exhibition to communicate with Bill Viola 'The Greeting' – a press conference presenting the exhibition will take place on May 16th, aimed at emphasising the profound link that over the years has developed between Pontormo’s art and Bill Viola, the digital artist.

'Electronic Renaissance' is definitely one of the most innovative and interesting current exhibitions in Florence - a unique opportunity to see Florentine Renaissance under a timely and engaging light. Book one of our hotels in Florence and treat yourself to a stay in the beautiful Tuscan city. If you want to discover its secrets and explore its less-known side, take advantage of one of our fantastic tours in Florence.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff