4 October 2021

The passion for collecting contemporary art is burning bright once again in Florence. In the city of the Medici, the international recognition is renewed, RINASCIMENTO+, will be awarded by the Museo Novecento, in collaboration with MUS.E, to eminent personalities of art collecting and patronage for their support to art and artists. The ceremony will take place at 11 am on Sunday, 3 October in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, in the presence of the Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella.

In this first edition, the prize will be awarded to Gemma De Angelis Testa, Heiner Friedrich, Giuliano Gori, Maria Manetti Shrem, Leonid Mikhelson and Margherita Stabiumi for the visionary, generous and dedicated work they have carried out over time in various forms of patronage and collecting in an effort to increase cultural well- being, training and artistic experimentation. They will receive the Crisalide di Sole, a jewel designed and realised by Maria Sole Ferragamo, a young designer who has inherited from her grandfather, Salvatore Ferragamo, the sense of beauty and innovation in forms and materials.

“The name chosen, RINASCIMENTO +, refers to the magnificence of the art of the past in a vision that is not static, but rather, one of continuity and transformation,” explains Sergio Risaliti, artistic director of the Museo Novecento and creator of the initiative. “RINASCIMENTO + speaks of art and artists, collectors and patrons, of the taste for beauty, of its regeneration and transcending of periods, of the continuous rebirth of the love for art and the perpetuation of innovative creativity from generation to generation. Florence is “historically destined” to bestow an international recognition such as this, presenting an image of itself today as a creative city, where the splendid season of the Renaissance has never been spent, and where the passion for art and experimentation has never faded. A recognition that finds its reason to exist in the history and the art of the Renaissance, but which lives through the new ambitions of the present. Palazzo Vecchio and Museo Novecento are ideal places for mending the link between antiquity and contemporaneity, between the patrons of the past and the collectors of the present.”

There is no doubt that Florence has been the cradle of modern collecting and patronage, the cultural, social and economic phenomena necessary for the evolution of Western art and the success of every avant-garde. The Renaissance, in fact, would not have established itself without the Medici, the Sassetti, the Tornabuoni, the Gondi and the Rucellai, just to name a few of the greatest supporters of art and culture during that glorious age. “A desire for beauty – continues Risaliti the artistic director of the Museo Novecento – not pompously flaunted, but ambitiously cultivated as a fruitful and lasting benefit on the horizon of future glory and memory, and above all, as a yearning for transcendence while attempting to balance the anguished and painful side of earthly existence and the trauma of violence and illness, which were commonplace at that time. From the passions of enlightened individuals, from their taste, from their refined thoughts, modern museums were born, starting with the Uffizi. The private dimension was extended to the public one, for an expanded sharing of a privilege originally enjoyed only in the private sphere.”

Since that time, Florence has exercised a precise mandate over the centuries, a function necessary for the structuring of the modern art system. The city has been a place of artistic creation, art criticism and investment in art: a vocation, the latter, uninterrupted even in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when the great upper-middle-class and industrial families persevered in this logic by collecting and investing in beauty and culture. Florence has survived its glorious past as a crossroads of artists, philosophers, poets, architects and then of Italian and foreign patrons who in the city of Lorenzo Il Magnifico and Botticelli cultivated business, diplomatic relations and political and economic alliances, all attracted by the aura of the Renaissance. Of these, we recall Stefano Bardini, whose taste and entrepreneurial ability as an art dealer gave rise to the jewel-like Stefano Bardini Museum; as well as the eclectic Frederick Stibbert and the art historian Herbert Percy-Horne, whose collections are a very important piece of Florentine history, not to mention the legacy left by art historian Charles Alexander Loeser, with extraordinary Renaissance works now preserved in Palazzo Vecchio.

The Museo Novecento also bears witness to this passion for beauty and its perpetuation in the historical periods. This museum institution was created thanks to the presence in the city of an extraordinary private collection donated in 1970 to the Municipality of Florence. The Alberto Della Ragione Collection – more than 200 works by the greatest exponents of Italian modern art – represents the true pillar of the Museo Novecento. This patrimony of artworks was donated to the city in the aftermath of the 1966 flood, as Della Ragione recalls, “as the fruit of a life of intense passion and as an act of adherence to the efforts being made to restore the city’s role as the living capital of art.” A huge patrimony of sculptures and paintings, proof of the taste of the collector, capable of entering the world of Italian art in the first half of the twentieth century as a fine connoisseur, with a particular inclination and critical logic. The words of the collector thus contained a precise message, still valid today: to bridge the distance between past and present, to fill the gaps and to contribute to the role of Florence in the contemporary world.
These are the historical and critical premises at the origin of RINASCIMENTO +. The idea of this international award, which is also an acknowledgement of the noble history of collecting and of an idea of the Renaissance as an open category, as an unfinished narrative, starts from the Museo Novecento. A tribute to the continuous transformation of creative languages, to the love of art, to the passions of the collector.
Crisalide di Sole is the award designed and realised by Maria Sole Ferragamo. The chrysalis encloses the original shape in its womb, to make it fly again. Creativity can bring beauty back to life with every human season, beauty which will always take on new forms and other colours, in ever-changing materials and languages. This is the meaning of the “+” sign added to the magical word Rinascimento, which thus manifests itself in its deepest meaning, that of life-giving spirit, of perennial evolution, metamorphosis and reincarnation. In Crisalide di Sole, the Rinascimento is not that dream petrified in an unrepeatable past. That desire for beauty, for transcendence, for cosmic harmony lives always and is always reborn. The concept of Rinascimento, of rebirth, gives a future to the fragile memory of the individual: to be born again, to make things happen again, in pursuing, every day, harmony and varietas. Nature provides us with an extraordinary example of this process in the evolutionary cycle of butterflies. From caterpillar to chrysalis, from chrysalis to butterfly. Of these three, the most static but at the same time the most innovative element, the one that generates and creates, is the chrysalis. Inside it, the whole history of the caterpillar and all the desire of the butterfly coexist. Crisalide di Sole is composed of an external volume, apparently static and rigid, protecting a crystal sphere placed inside it. The sphere enclosed within the leather of the casing reflects ever new geometric shapes to the eyes of those who observe it. The chrysalis, for Maria Sole, is also the collector, who draws on great examples of the past to support and protect today’s art and to encourage the art of the future. The realisation of this work in upcycled leather, crystal, metal and marble has seen the contribution of Florentine excellences, such as Horme and Accoppiature Mistral for the leather casing, Leofrance and Cristalleria Nuova Cev, as well as the contribution of graphic designer Dania Menafra.
RINASCIMENTO + was conceived by Sergio Risaliti, artistic director of the Museo Novecento, who in the selection was assisted by Lucia Mannini, art historian and curator, Carlo Francini, art historian, head of the Florence World Heritage Office and relations with UNESCO and member of the scientific committee of Casa Buonarroti and Marcella Cangioli, curator, art historian and President of the Association Città Nascosta.