Rachel Feinstein in Florence

Rachel Feinstein in Florence, curated by Sergio Risaliti and Stefania Rispoli, is the first career survey to be devoted to the American artist by Italian museums. The exhibition extends across three key locations in the city: the Museo Stefano Bardini, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi and the Museo Marino Marini.  

Rachel Feinstein (Fort Defiance, Arizona, 1971) is one of the most interesting artists active on the international scene. Her works, which range from sculpture to painting, have a dreamlike quality that draws inspiration both from classical art and Renaissance painting and from modern fairy tales and cartoons. In her works, the richly imaginative fantasy world combines with references to medieval and modern art, to Baroque and Rococo, religious iconography and literature. References to the sacred and the profane, the romantic and the picturesque, the sober and the kitsch, are woven together to form the stylistic hallmark of a unique language rooted both in a rereading of artworks from the past and the lessons of the historic avant-garde, including surrealism.

The curators have chosen to put Rachel Feinstein’s works in dialogue with the collections of Museo Stefano Bardini, Palazzo Medici Riccardi and Museo Marino Marini, thus inaugurating a close dialogue between the masterpieces housed within these places and the works created by the American artist. She is showing a series of paintings and sculptures, including some newly produced pieces, which look to the Gothic and Renaissance, Florentine and northern European traditions. Drawing inspiration from the collections of the three museums, her works engage openly and generously with those of past masters ranging from Donatello to Michelozzo and through to the sculptures of Marino Marini.

The sculptures in the crypt of the Museo Marino Marini display Feinstein’s interest in experimentation, including with materials. These pieces face off with the masterpieces of the Tuscan sculptor, a succession of horses and horsemen, female dancers and the celebrated Pomone, mythical, archetypical figures embodying a female ideal stemming from the iconography of the Etruscan goddess of fertility. In this suggestive museum layout Feinstein is showing a series of polychrome sculptures with an explosive femininity and a grotesque, almost disturbing and at times messy beauty. The Angels are inspired by the models of the famous American lingerie brand, Victoria’s Secret, and appear to be priestesses of a new canon of beauty. Instead of the ideal forms of classical figures or of the equally unattainable catwalk models, the artist presents new angels that cannibalise conventional notions of beauty with an exuberant and powerful plastic idiom. Complementing these works are two majolica sculptures, whose sinuous forms recall late Baroque architecture, and a plaster Dancer by Marino Marini. To the primitive and almost tribal character of the latter, characterized by polychrome marks, seem to look to the painted, textured and colored bodies of Feinstein’s figures.

Engaging closely with the three museum spaces, which have always been given over to celebrating and preserving the memory of male power exercised over the centuries and evoked in the magnificent masterpieces from the past, Feinstein’s works create an unprecedented rupture. Their expressive charge breaks the equilibrium of forms, prompting reflection on themes such as pathos and eros through the representation of the female body and an unashamed interaction between spirituality and desire.

The exhibition is open in the same days and times of Museo Marino Marini. For more information visit this page.

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