Florence, Paola Barocchi's unpublished photos and Maria Fossi's writings tell the story of the city during the war

Florence, from December 20, 2018 to February 17, 2019 at Palazzo Davanzati the exhibition 'Wounded Florence and the Santa Trinita Bridge in Maria Fossi's Diary and Paola Barocchi's Shots'

The exhibition Wounded Florence and the Santa Trinita Bridge in Maria Fossi’s Diary and Paola Barocchi’s Shots is being held at the Palazzo Davanzati Museum in Florence from December 20, 2018 to February 17, 2019.The exhibition was created after the discovery of unpublished photographs of the Santa Trinita Bridge during the war, taken by the then teenager Paola Barocchi (Florence, 1927 - Pisa, 2016), who, as is known, would later become one of Italy’s most important art historians. Barocchi’s photographs are accompanied by the writings of the then 17-year-old Maria Fossi Todorow, who was also destined for a career as an art historian.

The exhibition, curated by Donata Levi, Alessia Cecconi and Martina Nastasi, with the collaboration of Daniele Rapino, is an initiative of the Memofonte Foundation, welcomed and supported by the Bargello Museums, which stems precisely from the discovery of the photographs among Paola Barocchi’s papers and the desire to pay tribute to two women, two art historians, and two Florentines, proposing a new moment of encounter in which their ever-attentive gazes recount the Florence that goes through the drama of destruction and the toil of reconstruction.

The exhibition is divided into two sections. The first is dedicated to the Diary of the Emergency that Maria Fossi wrote between late July and August 1944, first published by Paola Barocchi herself with the types of her S.P.E.S. in 2004. The pages of the Diary are accompanied by photographs that give a figurative reading. The second section, however, shifts to the reconstruction of the Santa Trinita Bridge, which became the symbol of a “wounded, very wounded Florence that lived in rubble for many years.” between the summer of 1956 and the spring of 1957, Paola Barocchi lived the “story of the Santa Trinita bridge day by day and even photographing it once a week at least,” not for the sake of reporting but to seize the opportunity to “see a monument of the past reconstructed with the technique of the time, not the contemporary technique,” with the certainty that the institutions in this way understood to the full “the voice of the city.”

A book, bearing the same title as the exhibition and edited by Alessia Cecconi and Martina Nastasi, was also presented during the opening of the exhibition: the volume published under the S.P.E.S. brand (now owned by the Memofonte Foundation), the historic publishing house founded in 1974 by the Barocchi family, which ceased operations in 2016. An essay by Alessia Cecconi places the Diary in the historical context of those years, while the unpublished photographs are accompanied by an essay by Tomaso Montanari, who frames them in the dense cultural and moral debate of the postwar period.

Maria Fossi and Paola Barocchi were schoolmates, and in 1944 both were in their final year at the Galileo High School in Florence. At Christmas of that year, Maria gave Paola a photograph of the Santa Trinita Bridge with, on the back, the dedication “From Maria, with all you know” and the notation “No. 1569 † 3.VIII.1944.” The burden of a devastating experience was entrusted to just a few words, for there was no need to add much to the image of that bridge, destroyed in August by Nazi mines: both friends knew, saw and felt the emptiness, and made that bridge almost a living presence that united them and bound them to one of the symbolic places of Florence and the fury of war.

Both graduates in 1949, Barocchi on Rosso Fiorentino, Fossi on the drawings of Pisanello, they shared the course of their studies, cultivating an affinity that would make lasting a relationship based on a common feeling, on a Florentine-ness that was never closed in on itself, one stimulated by an education open to an international culture, the other raised in a cosmopolitan family environment. Their professional paths later parted: while Paola launched her university career, which would take her from Florence to Lecce and then in 1969 to the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Maria began working at the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe of the Uffizi, and then opened the museum didactic section and moved on to direct the Davanzati Museum in 1972. It was a lifelong friendship, strengthened in their common leaning toward figurative art, graphic design and the transmission of their knowledge, from a university chair or in museum halls. What the exhibition tells is the story of the Florence that goes from one roar to the next, the one in 1944 that blew up the Santa Trinita Bridge and the one in 1956 that returned it to the city by demolishing the ribs and finally freeing the three arches from one bank to the other of the Arno.

The Memofonte Foundation is the last undertaking of Paola Barocchi, who after retirement decided to continue her journey through a place where art history and information technology would continue to dialogue, welcoming scholars and opening up to young people. The house from which the young Paola photographed the bridge is now the headquarters of Memofonte, which continues to work on projects to computerize art-historical sources made available free of charge on its website.

The exhibition can be visited during the opening hours of the Museum of Palazzo Davanzati: Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. For all info, you can visit the website of the Bargello Museum, on whose complex Palazzo Davanzati depends.

Pictured: left Paola Barocchi, right Maria Fossi

Florence, Paola Barocchi's unpublished photos and Maria Fossi's writings tell the story of the city during the war
Florence, Paola Barocchi's unpublished photos and Maria Fossi's writings tell the story of the city during the war

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.