Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino at Palazzo Strozzi: Painting in the “modern manner,” by Sandra Carotti Gesualdi

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After nearly sixty years Pontormo returns to Palazzo Strozzi under the magnifying glass of the critics and invites the general public’s attention to the art. It is accompanied, in a privileged interview, by the other protagonist of the painting of the early sixteenth century, Rosso Fiorentino, in the name that brings all the centrality that at the time, the artists of our city. Pontormo and Rosso. The divergent paths of the “manner,” curated by Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali, is the debut of the new year of great exhibitions at Palazzo Strozzi. Divided by thematic sessions marked chronologically, the exhibition aims to make accessible the two great exponents of the art movement that Vasari placed at the beginning of the “modern manner” and that marks the end of a period of historic and artistic balance for Italy.

At the end of 400, Pontormo, born Jacopo Carrucci and Giovanni Battista di Jacopo, the Red, predicted that the historical events of Italy would undergo a major change and after the flowering of Commons and the Lords, the major foreign invasions, in from the French of Charles VIII, would trace the contours of the new country and society. This is proved true not only in Florence, with the expulsion of the Medici, but also beyond the borders imagined until then, with the discovery of Americas in 1492 and the beginning of modern history.

Even art, a litmus, test of the historical and social changes, takes a new direction with respect to the Renaissance tradition that recognizes Pontormo in the great examples of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. From their model and that of the master Andrea del Sarto, the young Pontormo and Rosso, take their first steps up to take amine those pained expressions and as the liberty to subvert the rules; they are launching the first phase of the so-called Mannerism, which had its peak between From the time that his new way of painting 1515 and 1525 in which the two artists introduced new compositional aspects and broke, in part, with the classical tradition. Over the past sixty years, critics have made progress and this exhibition emphasizes the individual and different experiences that have characterized Mannerism, show- ing how Pontormo and Rosso were first a very early and experimental stage, capable of commencing the “modern manner.”

The exhibition will be enriched by “new philological, historical and iconographic research carried on the work of two artists from 1956 to the present,” to offer a more updated reading of poetry and graceful pattern than the paintings of the two Florentines are capable of giving. 

Let us pause in front of the Entombment of Christ to the Sepulchre (1526-1528), a masterpiece by Pontormo, at which we will have an unexpected revelation of poetry full of innovation composition.

It was painted for the Capponi Chapel in Santa Felicita, the church at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio which seems to stumble by chance in the course of Vasari. We will be screened in an unreal space, a day without sunshine, in which time the sky disappears to make way for the pain of the death of Christ, so early and bloody.

A series of characters with elongated bodies are gathered around the body of Jesus. The pitying tones and expressive gestures are able to emotionally engage the viewer. The faces are marked by torture, strong in the half-closed eyes of Mary, the figures suspended, highlighted by acids and unnatural colors, the light faded they model their clothes and bodies, creating abstraction.

And here you can see all the anxiety of the young Pontromo; you want to stop to examine those pained expressions and astonished, certain impulses that elude the soul.

From the time that his new way of painting was not understood and appreciated immediately, his art has been contemporary.

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