Visiting Florence, it is not difficult to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of the art that was produced in the city during its glory years – by the Botticellis, the Giottos, the Donatellos, the Leonardos. It’s little wonder that the art of more recent times doesn’t usually get much airtime here. But the programme of Palazzo Strozzi, since 2015 under the direction of Arturo Galansino, is a notable exception: this year, Tomás Saraceno became the latest in a string of international artists including Marina Abramović, Bill Viola and Ai Weiwei to have solo shows at the historic palazzo.
The Palazzo Strozzi exhibition – currently closed due to Covid-19, but extensively documented on the gallery’s website – has a couple of monitors playing video footage of the flights, as well as installations of spherical sculptures in reflective and transparent materials that serve as prototypes, or perhaps symbols, of the aircraft themselves. There’s also an off-site display, at a new cultural centre called the Manifattura Tabacchi, that explores the projects in more detail. But the main galleries at the Strozzi are dominated by Saraceno’s other abiding interest: spiders, and the webs they weave. In one room, five long threads of spider silk are suspended mid-air, undulating gently like sonic waves. In another, a series of ‘hybrid’ webs woven by multiple spiders are presented like precious artefacts in glass cases, glistening under the spotlights. A third has an actual spider in it, spinning away. There is the sense that the spiders are the real artists, or at least artist’s helpers .
Source: Gabrielle Schwarz