Hidden treasures

Clet, the road sign street artist

Unknown places & works

Clet, the road sign street artist

Walking around Florence you might happen to come across strange road signs. Just that this time, Tuscan pranksters are not the ones to blame. Instead, the man behind such creations is a French street artist – indeed, it is art, not foolishness: Abraham Clet, an artist who decided to move to Florence and has donated some of his most famous 'installations' to this city.

Clet, as he is called, first started as a more traditional artist who began working with painting and sculpting, but was soon captivated by the irreverence and freedom of street art. He became famous for his road signs... slightly altered and embellished. His work consists of modifying road signs with stickers, taking care not to alter the main function of the originals and leaving them entirely visible. The best known is probably the signpost marking a dead end, which was transformed into the image of crucified Christ. Immediately accused of blasphemy, the uproar actually helped his notoriety to grow, rather than making him stop. If you walk around Florence, then, have fun looking for Clet's road signs: the turn sign that becomes Pinocchio, the no entry sign eaten by Pac Man, the pedestrian crossing with the Egyptian, and the bumpy road sign turned into a grimace.

But Clet's installations are not limited to road signs: taking advantage of a momentary free place left by a painting by Bronzino, he replaced it with his self-portrait in the gallery of Palazzo Vecchio; he built and installed a nice orange nose for the Tower of San Niccolò. But the work that, as you are reading, is back in the spotlight is the one placed on one of the spurs of Ponte alle Grazie: a dark stylized man with one foot attached to the spur and with the other in the air, as if he were about to step into the air. It was installed on the bridge on the same day as the ‘Diamond Skull’ by Daniel Hirst in Florence: a contemporary work of art worth 100 million euros. Convinced that art should be popular, Clet wanted to create an installation visible to everyone. It is a shame that for this reason he was forced to pay a fine of 10,000 euros... but he knows well that the relationship between street art and local councils has never been amongst the best!

So many interesting aspects to explore in magical Florence: not only Renaissance art, but also modern! Indeed in Florence there is so much to see that there is the risk of feeling disoriented by the level of beauty. Certainly Clet's signs, albeit interesting, will not be of any help! But our expert guides can help you and escort you around the city if you book our tour The ‘musts’ in Florence: with their company you will be able to visit the unmissable parts of this fascinating city and listen to a lot of interesting stories!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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