Florence, Novecento Museum opens new residencies for artists and curators in Ex-Leopoldine complex

Florence's Museo Novecento opens its new residences inside the former Leopoldine complex in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. They aim to be a true citadel of contemporary arts in the city.

Florence ’s Museo Novecento opens its doors to four artists and a curator who will reside for six months in the new residences within the former Leopoldine complex in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The first edition of the WONDERFUL! Art Research Program was received with great interest: more than 170 applications arrived from young artists and curators residing throughout Italy. The analysis and selection phase, conducted by Museo Novecento director Sergio Risaliti and curators Eva Francioli and Stefania Rispoli, took time and resulted in a final shortlist composed of artists Friedrich Andreoni (1995), Lucia Cantò (1995), Benedetta Fioravanti (1995) and Giovanna Repetto (1990) and curator Benedetta Casini (1991). The residency program curated by the Museo Novecento is also enriched by a collaboration with the Manifattura Tabacchi, which has made available five ateliers within the complex and will host the final exhibition of the residency period.

In the year of its 10th anniversary, the Museo Novecento thus inaugurates an ambitious project, allocating anentire newly renovatedwing to the reception and training of contemporary artists and curators. Thus a small “citadel” of art is born, a place designed for study and experimentation that intends to provide space and time for artistic and professional growth. WONDERFUL! Art Research Program ushers in a new direction for the museum, joining the programming of exhibitions related to the twentieth century and contemporary art and the enhancement of its prestigious permanent collection.

“A true citadel of contemporary arts is born today in the city,” stressed Florence Mayor Dario Nardella, “a truly innovative project thanks to which Florence will open its doors to young Italian and foreign artists and curators, supporting their path of professional growth and placing itself at the level of all the greatest cultural capitals. I would like to thank all those who have made the realization of this path possible, and a special thought of gratitude goes to Maria Manetti Shrem, who has always been a great friend of Florence and a philanthropist of great sensitivity who has never failed to lend her support in so many great city cultural initiatives. Good work to the first artists and the curator who will reside in these new spaces, we are convinced that the city will be a hotbed of inspiration, creativity, and beauty.”

“The small house of the arts in Via Palazzuolo connected to the Museo Novecento and just a few steps from Santa Maria Novella is finally taking shape and life,” said Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Culture Alessia Bettini. “With the inauguration of the new residences and the arrival of the artists and the curator, an important work carried out in recent years comes to fruition, which truly represents a unicum from the point of view of supporting the arts and young creatives, also going to fit into the broader project of regeneration and revitalization of the area. A place where young artists will be able to live, ideate and exchange experiences in close contact with the city.”

“In 2018 as soon as I arrived to direct the Museo Novecento,” commented director Sergio Risaliti, “I felt the need to add a program of artistic residencies to our beautiful institution. I believe that a museum designed to host artists and curators-in-residence is a unique project of its kind nationally and internationally. Finally today we have achieved that goal and this new adventure begins. To the enhancement of the collection, to the full-bodied cultural mediation program, to the rich exhibition program, we add another necessary museum function, continuing in the desired direction, which is to be a research and training institution, an almost unique case in Italy that obliges everyone to a greater investment of resources and energies, including scientific and professional ones. The Italian art system struggles to support research and experimentation, so offering residencies and tangible help to new generations of artists and curators represents a further success in the city’s cultural policy. This is the real Renaissance Florence, the one that proves in fact that it is still a laboratory and home of the avant-garde and not a showcase and passing stage. I would like to thank Mayor Dario Nardella, who has supported this ambitious project from day one, and the relevant offices that have completed the regeneration of the building, all the firms engaged on site, and the staff of Museo Novecento. I congratulate Stefania Rispoli who will take care of the project, accompanying Friedrich Andreoni, Lucia Cantò, Benedetta Fioravanti, Giovanna Repetto, and Benedetta Casini in these months of growth. Decisive was the generous collaboration with Maria Manetti Shrem thanks to whose contribution we can start the first cycle WONDERFUL! Art Research Program 2024. May her sensitivity and passion for the future and art be an example to so many.”

The artists and the curator are ready to move inside the spaces of the former Leopoldine to begin a training and research process that will last until October and will also involve the spaces of Manifattura Tabacchi and conclude with the creation of an exhibition inside the former cigar factory. The six-month residency will be characterized by a calendar of meetings and activities designed to get in touch with the Florentine and Tuscan territory, through visits to museums and main cultural and artistic centers, as well as inspections and dialogues with artisans, companies, associations and professionals, with the aim of emphasizing the knowledge of the artistic heritage and to give birth to collaborations and projects with manufacturing realities.

The first edition of the residency program was made possible thanks to the support of Maria Manetti Shrem, a Florentine-born philanthropist who embraced the project from the very beginning, passionately emphasizing the importance of this new course of the Museo Novecento aimed at actively supporting new generations of artists and curators, their training in a unique and historically rich city like Florence. “I have a special admiration for director Sergio Risaliti,” said Maria Manetti Shrem, “who, in addition to being one of the most prolific art historians and critics in recent years, ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary art, has managerial skills in the arts like few others. The Museo Novecento represents excellence in contemporary art in Florence, Italy and the European scene. I subscribed with great enthusiasm to this new Artists in Residence project of his because specifically it addresses the education of young people. Education is the cornerstone of my philanthropy. Personally, I owe it all to having had the privilege of being able to continue my studies as a child. In addition, this program, of which I am proudly a ”catalyst,“ setting an example as a prime mover to other possible benefactors, also includes hosting two graduate students in art from the University of UC Davis, California. I hope that the collaboration between the Museum and UC Davis will develop further. Creating cross-cultural and business bridges, specifically between Italy and America, Tuscany and California, Florence and San Francisco Bay Area is a mission for me. For this I acknowledge great gratitude and special admiration for the political support given to the project by Mayor Dario Nardella, Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Culture Alessia Bettini and their entire team.”

“The large participation in the open call for proposals at the end of 2023 testifies to the importance and responsibility of such a project,” added Stefania Rispoli, curator of the project. "The Italian art system struggles in supporting research, so offering time, space and economic support that can be devoted to study represents a tangible support to new generations of artists and curators. Today the museum is confirmed to be not only a home for works but also a home for artists and curators. Their presence makes our museum an even more dynamic and vital place because it is intrepreted as a center of education and research. The choice of this first edition of WONDERFUL! Art Research Program has fallen on a shortlist of four artists and one curator born between 1990 and 1995, who have distinguished themselves for the originality and sensitivity of their research and for the motivations that led them to participate in residing for the next few months in Florence. Heartfelt thanks go to all those who are supporting this project and who will collaborate on the training program, and to all the artists who participated in the call for applications. We received many valid and deserving applications, to the many we wish to be able to continue in their research."

“The focus on young talents and their potential is a concept that is very close to Manifattura Tabacchi’s heart and one that we have pursued since the beginning of its redevelopment. We are therefore very proud to be part of this new Museo Novecento project, to welcome artists and curators to our spaces and to renew our collaboration with Sergio Risaliti, who already in 2019 conceived and curated for Manifattura Tabacchi a three-year program of Artist Residencies, strengthening the former cigar factory as a cutting-edge creative and productive district and a new hub for contemporary culture in Florence,” commented Michelangelo Giombini, Head of Product Development & CEO of Manifattura Tabacchi.

The residencies at the Museo Novecento are designed as a period of immersive study, research and production. Within their residencies and studios at the Museo Novecento and Manifattura Tabacchi, artists Friedrich Andreoni, Lucia Cantò, Benedetta Fioravanti, Giovanna Repetto and curator Benedetta Casini will conduct studio visits and periodically attend lectio, workshops and meetings with architects, curators, gallerists, artists, communicators, designers, restorers, scholars and many other practitioners, in synergy with the Museum’s scientific and exhibition programming. In October, on the occasion of Florence Art Week, an exhibition will be hosted in the spaces of the Manifattura Tabacchi in which the artists and the curator will give back to the public the research carried out in the previous months.

Photo by Alessandra Cinquemani.

Florence, Novecento Museum opens new residencies for artists and curators in Ex-Leopoldine complex
Florence, Novecento Museum opens new residencies for artists and curators in Ex-Leopoldine complex

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