A new video installation, running through July 23, at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence celebrates the contemporary work of Bill Viola. The exhibit, Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance, links the artist’s contemporary work with that of Renaissance painters.
Viola, an American contemporary video artist, worked in Florence at video production center Art/Tapes/22 during the early stages of his career in the 1970s and was inspired by Florentine art and masters such as Giotto. Works of Viola’s from the 1970s through today are included, with themes exploring humans’ relationship with extremes in nature: light and dark, life and death, water and fire.
One of the works on display is The Deluge (2002), which depicts a flood people and a building. Viola drew inspiration for this piece from Paolo Uccello, whose murals for the Santa Maria Novella church depict flood scenes from the Book of Genesis. Another piece is Eclipse (1974), in which a moon is seen passing through the night sky from a window before being devoured by the flame of a candle.
“Today it is considered highly fashionable to juxtapose Old Masters with contemporary art, but the connections are often too blurred and the results disappointing. This is not the case with Bill’s work… [his] culture and learning are deeply influenced by the artistic tradition,” Arturo Galansino, the director of Palazzo Strozzi, told The Art Newspaper.
In addition to Palazzo Strozzi, other museums hosting Viola’s works include the Grande Museo del Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery and Museo di Santa Maria Novella.
By Kathy McCabe