We had the Alien invasion last year and now Humans have invaded Forte Belvedere in Florence! Sir Antony Gormley’s exhibition of statues is perhaps not as amusing as the Aliens but curious enough and the view over Florence from Forte Belvedere is breathtaking. In the current heatwave we have had this Summer it’s not surprising that the only Humans left standing are these….and even some have ended up in a heap, just like the rest of us!
I was curious to know more about Gormley and took the free tour with a very enthusiastic guide who had met Gormley and explained his philosophy behind the sculptures. Gormley had spent considerable time at the Fort discussing the placement of the sculptures saying “ I want to create stumbling blocks that stop the viewer in their tracks. I want to encourage the viewer to think again about who they are and how they negotiate the spaces around them” The beauty of the exhibition to me, is that the figures are not intrusive, being of human size and blend rather than impose in the various levels and areas of the Forte unlike the Zhang Huan Soul and Matter exhibition in 2013.
The same 12 figures, which repeat themselves in different positions and locations, are from a mould of Gormley’s body, and left empty so we can place our own ideas ‘inside‘ as to what the formations represent to us.. The first line across the courtyard suggests the evolution of man looking over the past centuries of Renaissance glory. On the opposite side the bodies are heaped in a mass suggesting a massacre of some sort, the ‘negative’ side of man. The guide did cheekily recount that not everyone interprets the heap in the same way as a lady in another group suggested it was a ‘festa, an orgy’!? I let you judge that for yourselves.
Gormley then made another series of digital figures ‘Blockworks’ , pouring the hot iron into polystyrene blocks, which left a rough unfinished look. My favourite would have to be at the back of the Forte where the figure looks toward the countryside, to a better future perhaps…
So make sure Forte Belvedere is on your list of places to visit in Florence next time you are over, whether you are in time to see Gormley’s Humans this year or another exhibition next year.