Arezzo, a rich program of exhibitions to celebrate Giorgio Vasari 450 years after his death

The city of Arezzo is preparing to celebrate Giorgio Vasari on the 450th anniversary of his death with a rich exhibition program, including a major international exhibition. Here is the schedule in detail.

Arezzo is preparing to celebrate one of its greatest sons, Giorgio Vasari (Arezzo, 1511 - Florence, 1574) on the 450th anniversary of his death, with a long schedule of dedicated events: Arezzo. The City of Vasari, this is the name of the program, is an ambitious project that aims to celebrate the multifaceted figure of Giorgio Vasari, the illustrious painter, architect and art historian of the Italian Renaissance through an artistic and cultural itinerary articulated in as many as ten exhibitions, including monumental works and rare documents, to offer a comprehensive overview of Vasari’s life and work, placing special emphasis on the link with his hometown, Arezzo. The project, which will take place from May 2024 to February 2025, will involve museums, libraries and archives in Arezzo, creating an interweaving of places and testimonies that will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the cultural and artistic atmosphere of sixteenth-century Arezzo. Through new thematic displays, the exhibition aims to reconstruct the historical and cultural context in which Vasari lived and worked, offering a deeper understanding of his works and his influence in Renaissance and Mannerist art.

The initiative is promoted and organized by the Municipality of Arezzo, Fondazione CR Firenze with Fondazione Guido D’Arezzo - an entity chaired by the city’s mayor Alessandro Ghinelli and directed by Lorenzo Cinatti to which, since 2018, has been entrusted by the Municipality of Arezzo with the management of activities and cultural garrisons in the territory - in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Tuscany Regional Museums Directorate, Uffizi Galleries, with the curatorship of the scientific committee chaired by Carlo Sisi as part of the celebrations for the Vasarian Year. Partners in the initiative are Arezzo State Archives, Diocese of Arezzo, Cortona and San Sepolcro, Arezzo City Library, Fraternita dei Laici of Arezzo, Arezzo Intour Foundation. The graphic design is by Wml design.

Arezzo can be called “the city of Vasari” because of the deep ties the artist had with this city. Although he spent most of his life in Florence and Rome, Vasari always maintained a special connection with his hometown, which played a significant role in his artistic training and career. The family ties of the author of The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects with Arezzo date back to the 15th century, when his grandfather Giorgio di Lazzaro Taldi da Cortona moved to the city. This ancestral link is evidenced by historical documents preserved in the archives, which reflect the deep roots of Vasari’s family in Arezzo.

But it is not only family ties that made Arezzo special for Vasari. The city was an important artistic workshop for the artist, who left an indelible imprint through his works and architectural designs. The Loggias of Piazza Grande and Casa Vasari are just a few of the places where the artist left his mark, enriching Arezzo’s artistic and cultural heritage, right down to the project to transform the abbey of Saints Flora and Lucilla and the paintings that embellish the churches of Santissima Annunziata and SS. Trinità. The project Arezzo. The City of Vasari aims to enhance this connection. Connecting, as in a map, Arezzo’s main cultural institutions, namely the City Library of Arezzo, the Ivan Bruschi House Museum, the Fraternita dei Laici, the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, the National Archaeological Museum “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate,” the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, the Vasari House Museum, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, the State Archives and the Orodautore Museum, the initiative also aims to highlight Vasari’s works and documents in the city.

At the center of the initiative, which will also see the creation of itineraries in the area and collateral events, a major international exhibition curated by Cristina Acidini, with the collaboration of Alessandra Baroni, will stand out. This exhibition will be a crucial moment for Arezzo, as it will see the arrival or return to the city of works from important international collections. The main objective will be to illuminate the rich heritage of sacred and secular works created by Vasari for the glory of Grand Duke Cosimo I, his patron from 1550 until his death.

The major exhibition, entitled Giorgio Vasari. The Theater of Virtues, will take place at the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. In it, an attempt will be made to explore Vasari’s role as a sensitive interpreter of the era in which he lived and at the same time the author of significant artistic innovations. In painting, Vasari distinguished himself by his use of the symbolic language of allegory, adapting his art to a common practice in the sixteenth century. In this practice, a wide variety of objects and symbols were used to create a vocabulary rich in symbolic meanings of great intensity. The exhibition aims to give visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Vasari’s work and artistic vision, offering a comprehensive overview of his production and contribution to the history of art.

The exhibition will present a careful selection of works, following the theme of profane and sacred allegory, through painted plates, drawings and manuscripts by Giorgio Vasari, as well as contributions from contemporary artists and collaborators who followed his same expressive line.Among the works on display will be letters, manuscripts and printed volumes from the Vasari Archive, which will offer a valuable window into the artistic thought and practices of the time. In addition, there will be no shortage of highly symbolic artifacts, such as the famous Chimera, the extraordinary Etruscan bronze discovered in 1535 during excavation work around the bulwark of San Lorentino in Arezzo. This masterpiece, commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici and immediately incorporated into the ducal collections, will be one of the focal points of the exhibition, highlighting the evocative and symbolic potential of allegory in Renaissance art.

The scientific committee, directed by Carlo Sisi, is composed of Cristina Acidini Luchinat, Alessandra Baroni, Alessandro Cecchi, Eliana Carrara, Carlo Falciani, Massimiliano Rossi, Laura Donati, Anna Bisceglia, Stefano Casciu, and Simone Verde.

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Arezzo, the city of Vasari
Arezzo, the city of Vasari

The program in detail

The itinerary of Arezzo. The City of Vasari will begin in May 2024 with the opening of the exhibition entitled Per gloria dell’arte et honor degli Artefici: Vasari an Immortal Writer and Artist. Curated by Elisa Boffa and housed in the spaces of the Municipal Library, this exhibition will present a selection of bibliographic treasures from the library’s rich catalog. These will include ancient texts, prints and manuscripts that will offer in-depth documentation on various aspects of Giorgio Vasari’s life and work. The exhibition will be divided into five thematic sections, each dedicated to a specific moment in the artist’s life and career. It will begin with a narrative of Vasari’s family origins and his early education, and then explore his role as architect and painter through a careful selection of documents and testimonies. Special attention will be given to the different editions of his most famous work, The Lives, offering the public an opportunity to understand the evolution and importance of this literary masterpiece. The exhibition will also not neglect Vasari’s other writings, as well as presenting contributions and testimonies after his death. Through a varied display of bibliographic materials, the exhibition will offer an in-depth look at the artist’s vast literary output and its lasting impact on the Italian and international cultural scene. The exhibition will be open to the public until July 2024.

In June, two significant stops will be added to Arezzo. The City of Vasari. The first will be hosted at the National Archaeological Museum with an exhibition entitled The Vasari “potters” and their relationship with Arezzo’s ceramic production of ancient times. This exhibition, curated by Maria Gatto, will explore the Vasari family’s connections with the renowned Arezzo ceramic production of ancient times, from which the family’s surname itself originated. By retracing the literary trace of the life of Giorgio di Lazzaro Taldi, Giorgio Vasari’s grandfather, the exhibition will offer an opportunity to explore the connection between the potter’s activity practiced by his grandfather and the renowned ceramics of Arezzo. In particular, a special section will be devoted to the recently renovated room dedicated to the famous terra sigillata vases, known for their ornaments and mythological motifs.

The second stage, hosted at the Fraternita dei Laici, will be an itinerary curated by Francesca Chieli entitled Honorato e Gratiosa. Giorgio Vasari’s Loggia. Through an extensive documentary corpus, this exhibition will illustrate the genesis and development of one of Arezzo’s most important architectural enterprises: the Vasari Loggias. Valuable accounts of the artist’s life will be presented, including his birth certificate at the Spedale degli Innocenti in Florence and a selection of letters of commission, resolutions and records of payments. Both exhibitions will be open to the public until February 2025.

In July, an exhibition entitled Si è mangiato altro che pane e messer Giorgio. Critical Fortunes and New Research on the Peducci Standard. Curated by Serena Nocentini, this exhibition will focus on the processional banner painted by Giorgio Vasari in 1549 for the Compagnia di San Giovanni Battista dei Peducci. The banner consists of two fine canvases depicting the Preaching of the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus, and is an emblematic example of Vasari’s artistic abilities in the field of painting. Through the analysis of archival documents and comparison with unpublished canvases preserved in the Abbey of Saints Flora and Lucilla, the exhibition will explore the history and importance of this artistic masterpiece. Curator Serena Nocentini will guide the public on a journey through new research and critical discoveries that have enriched the understanding of the Peducci standard, offering a unique perspective on Giorgio Vasari’s painting skills and artistic influences. The exhibition will be open to the public until February 2025.

In September, three new exhibitions will join the project to further enrich the exploration of the Renaissance artist’s work and life. The first of these exhibitions, titled Constructing a Self-Image: Giorgio Vasari Through His Papers, will be hosted in the spaces of the State Archives and curated by Ilaria Marcelli. Through Vasari’s archival holdings, the exhibition will display documents related to the artist’s family and his correspondence with Grand Duke Cosimo I. These documents testify to Vasari’s desire to influence the memory that his contemporaries and future generations would have of his figure and work. The exhibition will be open to the public until February 2025.

Later, at the artist’s historic home, Casa Vasari, the exhibition Il disegno fu lo imitare il più bello della Natura. The House, the Drawings, the Ideas: Giorgio Vasari and the Figure of the Intellectual Architect. Curated by Rossella Sileno, this exhibition will showcase drawings and sculptures that highlight two fundamental aspects of Vasari’s life: his figure as an intellectual artist and the theme of architecture present in his pictorial work. The exhibition will be on view until February 2025.

Finally, the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art will host the exhibition Alcuna cosa fuor dell’uso comune. Giorgio Vasari’s Wedding Feast of Esther and Ahasuerus. This exhibition will explore Vasari’s work through the context of the wedding banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus. The exhibition will be open to the public until February 2025.

The sumptuous palace that was once owned by the Ciocchi del Monte family and also hosted Cardinal Giovanni Maria, later elected pontiff as Julius III, currently houses one of Giorgio Vasari’s most majestic works. It is the oil on panel painting depicting the third of the four banquets narrated in the Book of Esther. this work was commissioned in July 1548 by Don Giovanni Benedetto da Mantova, abbot of the Monastery of Saints Flora and Lucilla in Arezzo, one of the artist’s main patrons. At the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art (MNAMM), which currently occupies the palace, this extraordinary Vasarian work will be on display. The exhibition, curated by Luisa Berretti, will accompany the monumental painting with a selection of preparatory drawings, historical documents, and the results of the restoration, which will allow visitors to fully appreciate the wonderful details of the work. The exhibition will be open to the public until February 2025.

In January, the Museo Orodautore will pay tribute to Giorgio Vasari by inviting 15-20 artists-oraphs and designers, with a special focus on those working in the Arezzo area-to design jewelry or ornaments inspired by the great master. Under the curatorship of Giuliano Centrodi, these artists will make their creations either in collaboration with firms in the Distretto Orafo Aretino or in their personal workshops. The artifacts will then be displayed in an exhibition entitled ... I Positioned Myself to the Goldsmith. Homage to Vasari. Interestingly, Vasari himself, as narrated in his Lives and Reminiscences, frequented several goldsmith workshops in Arezzo, as well as in Florence and Pisa. The exhibition will present the jewelry in specially renovated spaces.

Also within the theme of gold, the Fraternita dei Laici will host Filippo Rossi’s solo exhibition entitled GOLD. Treasure, Beauty, Light, Life. In this exhibition, the contemporary artist’s abstract icons will be placed side by side with figurative images of the past in reproduction, offering a stimulating comparison between the present and the past through the lens of gold and its symbolism. The exhibition will be open to the public during 2024, with the exact period to be determined.

To crown this approach to Giorgio Vasari’s work, the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art will host, as mentioned above, Giorgio Vasari. The Theater of Virtues, the major exhibition curated by Cristina Acidini with the collaboration of Alessandra Baroni. This exhibition will be the culmination of a journey through the life and work of the great Renaissance master.

Widening our gaze beyond the city walls, there will also be a guidebook edited by Daniela Galoppi, who will point out on a scientific basis all of Vasari’s emergencies in the city and surrounding area. From Arezzo to Castiglion Fiorentino, from Cortona to Monte San Savino, the guide will lead visitors to discover paintings housed in sacred places and significant architecture related to the artist. Places such as the Oratorio del Gesù in Cortona, the Church of Sant’Agostino in Monte San Savino, the Temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria in Foiano della Chiana and Santa Maria delle Querce in Lucignano, as well as works in the Church of San Donato and Ilariano and the Cloistered Monastery in Camaldoli, will be presented through this comprehensive guide.

But it won’t just be exhibitions: alongside the exhibition poster, there will be collateral initiatives embracing different art forms. From concerts to guided tours, literary events to performance art, each event will reflect both Vasari’s vast artistic repertoire and the mission of the Guido d’Arezzo Foundation in promoting culture and art in all its forms. Whether exploring Vasari’s artistic legacy or celebrating contemporary art, these initiatives will provide a comprehensive and engaging cultural experience for visitors of all ages.

Arezzo, Piazza Grande
Arezzo, Piazza Grande


“Arezzo celebrates one of its most illustrious sons, a multifaceted artist and man of letters, who meant a great deal to Italian, and more generally European, art and culture,” says Alessandro Ghinelli, Mayor of the city of Arezzo. "Giorgio Vasari was an undisputed protagonist of the Renaissance, which he not only interpreted with his pictorial and architectural works, but of which he left precious memories in his Lives. With a program of events of great artistic, cultural and scientific level and with the exhibition, a unique opportunity, to admire together the Master’s most significant works, our city is preparing to live a special year. Significant has been the response in terms of enthusiastic participation, not only from all the cultural institutions of the city, Tuscany, and Italy, but also from ordinary cultural workers in Arezzo, eager to provide their contribution to honor the great Aretine 450 years after his death. To all of them my heartfelt thanks."

“Our institution,” says Maria Olivia Scaramuzzi, Vice President of Fondazione CR Firenze, “promotes and supports this wide-ranging and articulated program not only because of its high scientific value, but also because six works by Vasari are part of our precious art collection and are permanently exhibited in our headquarters in Florence. Over the years we have also supported important restorations of Vasari’s masterpieces and, above all, we allowed in 2011 the reopening, for the first time and after a long recovery, of his home near Piazza Santa Croce where the artist lived the last years of his life and passed away. Our attention to the Arezzo area has been constant over time, involving the liveliest realities both in the cultural sphere, such as the Guido d’Arezzo Foundation, and in the social and welfare spheres.”

“The Foundation,” says Lorenzo Cinatti, director of the Guido D’Arezzo Foundation, “is called upon to personally manage such a prestigious and at the same time complex event, which requires the constant commitment of coordination of the other institutions involved, to which my personal thanks already go as of now for the creative spirit of collaboration with which they have made themselves available, each providing a valuable contribution. A widespread exhibition, dedicated to one of Arezzo’s most illustrious citizens, which, thanks to visiting itineraries that embrace the city’s main museum and archival institutions, will render to the visitor a well-rounded portrait of an artist, highlighting his strong roots with his city and territory, of which in some respects the Chimera of Arezzo itself represents the strongest and most troubled link. As a corollary to all this there will be musical events, theater appointments, readings, themed guided tours, and workshops for children to fully savor this important Vasarian Anniversary from every perspective.”

“The participation of the MiC’s Tuscany Regional Museums Directorate in the Vasarian Anniversary and exhibition program,” emphasizes director Stefano Casciu, “consolidates a synergy and dialogue between its identity museums and all the actors, institutions and places of the territory starting from Casa Vasari fulcrum of the great Aretino’s private life and of his artistic and intellectual self-representation, from the Museum of Modern and Medieval Art in Arezzo, with important and monumental works and up to the National Archaeological Museum where we go back to the origins of the surname Vasari that is due to his ancestors ’potters. Numerous and important will be the loans to the central exhibition, including the Arezzo Chimera from the Archaeological Museum of Florence, confirming a wide-ranging collaboration to worthily celebrate in his city a great protagonist of the history of the arts from the 16th century to the present.”

Arezzo, a rich program of exhibitions to celebrate Giorgio Vasari 450 years after his death
Arezzo, a rich program of exhibitions to celebrate Giorgio Vasari 450 years after his death

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