Hate and Love – Giorgio Vasari and the artists in Bologna

An exhibition to investigate the complex and contradictory relationships between the artist and historian from Arezzo and the artists who were contemporary to him beyond the Apennines.

Florence – From 9 October to 2 December in the Edoardo Detti room, on the first floor of the Uffizi Gallery. “Nor is it marvelous that that of Amico was more practical than anything else, because it is said that, as an abstract person that he was and out of the team from the others, he went throughout Italy drawing and portraying everything of painting and importance, and so the good as the bad … which labors were the reason that he did that way so crazy and strange.

This quotation from the Life of Bartolomeo da Bagnacavallo and other Romagnuoli painters is taken from the 1568 edition of Vasari’s Lives. The “practical inventor” was Amico Aspertini, but Vasari extended his caustic judgment to all the other Bolognese painters contemporary to him, defining them with “the head full of pride and smoke”. Not only that: in Michelangelo’s Life he adds the poisonous note for which Buonarroti left Bologna after only a year’s stay because he “wasted time” there.

In short, a relationship that was born really badly, but fortunately ended well, as revealed by the exhibition D’odio e d’amore – Giorgio Vasari e gli artisti a Bologna, curated by Marzia Faietti and Michele Grasso, on view from 9 October to 2 December in the Sala Edoardo Detti of the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe of the Uffizi Galleries. In fact, through a very accurate and significant selection of drawings and paintings (mainly taken from the collections of the Uffizi Galleries), the exhibition shows how Vasari’s hostile judgment – which attributed to artists from beyond the Apennines the lack of contact with works and materials of classical art from which to take inspiration and inspiration – was destined not to last long. The terms are already less harsh towards Correggio who, in his opinion, if he had left Lombardy (Emilia was then considered Lombard land) and had gone as far as Rome “he would have worked miracles”, but towards the artists of the next generation Vasari even spends words of approval.

It is an exhibition with an unprecedented cut, with a very subtle intellectual and figurative discourse, which explains the text of Vasari’s Lives – used as a trace – through the works on display, and which precisely reveals a relationship of almost hatred and love, with ferocious judgments on the one hand and admired impulses on the other: this explains, for example, an unpublished drawing by Amico Aspertini which seems to be an unexpected homage by the Bolognese “out of the team” to Vasari, whose work he cites. In this visual narrative, there is an unthinkable happy end at the start: Bologna had meanwhile conquered the rigorous artist and the first art historian in Arezzo.

“The exhibition courageously tackles a sophisticated and rare theme – comments the Director of the Uffizi Gallery, Eike Schmidt – guiding the visitor’s gaze through paintings and drawings, in a game of references between text and image. It is the result of years of study by the curators on Vasari’s writings and works, with unpublished results and discoveries that reveal the deep vocation for research of the Uffizi Galleries and their educational mission, at the highest levels.


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