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Experience divine beauty in Florence

— September 2015

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Renato Guttuso Crucifixion 1940-1941. Rome, GNAM - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, inv. 8549

Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will host an exhibition entitled ‘Divine Beauty: From Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana’ running from 24 September 2015 to 24 January 2016.  This exhibition with more than 100 works by important Italian artists as Domenico Morelli, Gaetano Previati, Felice Casorati, Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana  and Emilio Vedova, together with international masters such as Vincent van Gogh,  Jean-François Millet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Georges Rouault and Henri Matisse,  sets out to explore the relationship between art and the sacred from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.

‘Divine Beauty’ will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to compare and contrast a number of famous works of art, observed in a new and different light, alongside pieces by artists whose work is perhaps less well-known today but who, in their own way, have helped to forge the rich and complex panorama of modern art as a whole, not simply in a religious environment.

Religious art is presented here as a ‘genre’ in its own right, as an art form that came down from the altar to play a direct role in the artistic debate between the 19th and 20th centuries while at the same time reviving the great themes on which religion and spirituality have been focusing from time immemorial.

Curated by Lucia Mannini, Anna Mazzanti, Ludovica Sebregondi and Carlo Sisi, the exhibition, which is the product of a joint venture between the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, the former Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, the Archdiocese of Florence and the Vatican Museums, is part of a programme of events devised to run concurrently with the Fifth National Bishops Conference, scheduled to be held in Florence from 9 to 13 November and in the course of which Pope Francis himself will be visiting the city.

The key pieces include masterpieces such as: Jean-François Millet's Angelus on exceptional loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, a work that emanates an ancestral spirituality, a universal sense of the sacred that transcends all barriers; Vincent van Gogh's Pietà from the Vatican Museums, a crucial work because, despite his religious and mystic calling, Vincent rarely addressed the sacred in his art, and even when he did so, he took his cue from other artists' work; Renato Guttuso's Crucifixion from the collections of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome, an emblematic work with an intense political connotation which, like Picasso's Guernica, embodies a cry of pain and grief; and Marc Chagall's  White Crucifixion from the Art Institute Museum in Chicago, one of Pope Francis's favourite works of art.

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