Florence Biennale 2015

October 17th – 25th | Fortezza da Basso, Florence

The Biennale Internazionale d’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze, or Florence Biennale is an event of excellence in the contemporary art scene: artists from all over the world come to Florence, where they have the chance to experience cross-cultural dialogue and contribute to making this biennial a reference model.


During each edition of the Florence Biennale an International Jury composed of renowned scholars, art historians and critics from different countries shall confer the “Lorenzo il Magnifico”International Award to the best artists competing in the different disciplines. Furthermore, the “Lorenzo il Magnifico” Lifetime Achievement Awards are bestowed to outstanding personalities and institutions who achieved the pinnacles of artistic and cultural achievement. In the past edition this award has been conferred to Anish Kapoor, Franco Mussida, and Henryk Yurkowski for art, music and theatre culture,

respectively. Themed ‘Ethics: DNA of Art’ and unfolding into more than 25 collateral events in public spaces and venues as well as at the Fortezza da Basso, the IX Florence Biennale successfully engaged nearly 10,000 visitors and overall was judged favorably by the numerous participating artists from more than 40 countries.


The Florence Biennale, independent and self-financed through the support of the organizer, the participating artists and their sponsors, has come to the X Edition. In synergy with the City of Florence as well as other local institutions, the X Florence Biennale will be held in the heart of Florence, at the Fortezza da Basso, from October 17th to 25th, 2015.

The Florence Biennale will continue to follow the principles set forth in the Ethics Charter of the New Millenium Artist, presented during the XXXIII World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations that was held in 2013 at Palazzo Medici

Riccardi, Florence.

This document, which has been ratified by the non governmental organizations attending the event, represents an important goal in the path that in 2001 led the Florence Biennale to becoming an official partner in the UN Program ‘Dialogue among Civilizations” (UN General Assembly, 60th Session, art. 9 of the Resolution of the Plenary Meeting of 13 November 2000).

Still under the artistic direction of Professor Rolando Bellini, the X Edition of the Florence Biennale will be held in concomitance with the 150th anniversary of Florence Capital of Risorgimental Italy, and the EXPO 2015. We are working to make the X Florence Biennale a unique event as well as the celebration of twenty years of our history. The theme, events, and initiatives in program will be disclosed in the forthcoming months.

Art and the Polis


The myth of the ideal city inherited from classical antiquity revived in Laudatio florentinae urbis by Leonardo Bruni and the treatises by Leon Battista Alberti, who wrote his De Pictura in fifteenth-century Florence, where the Plato’s city of philosophers was gaining momentum. From then on the virtual dialogue between the arts has been reawakening through illuminating ‘tokens’ of the past, which are enrichment for the present.


In the city that ows its name to the ludi florales in honour of Flora, goddess of blooming, It is Michelangelo’s David that tightens art and the polis in a closer tie, thus giving breath of life to Giambologna’s Apennine Colossus in Pratolino and other “presences”, including Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Dietro-front sculpture at Porta Romana. In that perspective the

polis should be interpreted not only as environment, but also as a microcosm with balanced interrelation between Man and Nature. And, not least, as a privileged scene in which, every two years, the Fortezza da Basso becomes the ‘city of the artists, thus an ideal contemporary city where talents from across the world give lustre to Florence. Debuting artists, emerging artist, and established artist, all committed to experimenting forms, materials and techniques with increasingly raised awareness.


From the forthcoming edition the Florence Biennale will welcome textile & fiber artists, jewellery artists, and ceramic artists, who will play a major role on the scene of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Florence by bringing the past into the present through their work. Weaving, shaping, and embellishing: while bringing back to memory the dawn of civilisation, from Lascaux to Mycenae, those artist bear witness to the history of a civitas in which the ‘arts’ were powerful, and

determined the destiny of Florence – a community which, today as yesterday, is inspired by ideals of harmony and beauty.


After some reflection, now that Heidegger’s reverberation of Post-Modernism has vanished, we would like to go beyond the notion of Neo-avantgarde and avoid labels of any kind. Rather we would stand for a change inspired by the renovatio of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Michelangelo’s revolutionary canons, and Leonardo’s art, which absorbs and reinterprets reality by translating it into the ‘universo mondo’ that would be theorised, years later, by Giovan Battista Vico.


Rolando Bellini
Artistic Director


  Read the Artistic Director Foreword

Theme: Art and the Polis

Rolando Bellini

Artistic Director


Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Storico Artistici, Università di Firenze (1985)

Integrated Master’s Degree in History of Art, Università di Firenze (1980)

Current Positions

- Full Professor of Art History, Graphic Art, Museology and Aesthetics at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, since 2006

- Professor of Art History at the Università Internazionale dell’Arte, Florence, and member of the University’s scientific committee (since 1982)

- Curator of the MAP (Museo di Arte Plastica) of Castiglione Olona since 2004 and project manager for the ‘Polo Museale’ in this territory

- Member of the editorial board of specialized magazines, including Critica d’Arte, Il Ponte, Architettura e Arte, Il Protagora, Il Corriere dell’Arte and La Nuova Città 

 Fortezza da Basso

Exhibition Spaces

The Fortezza da Basso, a Renaissance masterpiece of military architecture, that since 1967 has been the main center for exhibitions in Florence, strategically located in the historical center. The Fortezza is the ideal venue for events of high artistic value, its evocative charm recalls

the splendor of the Medici governance. Since 1999, the Florence Biennale is held in the Spadolini Pavilion, after the first edition in 1997 that was held in the nearby Palazzo degli Affari. Now for 14 years, the Biennale comes to life and thrives within its walls, in 11,000 square meters of exhibition space.

In addition, there are spaces dedicated to collateral events, performances and conferences, for the public to experience the atmosphere of an international review of contemporary artists who come to Florence from over 70 countries around the world.

Historical Background

Originally known as Castello Alessandria, it was built by Pier Francesco da Viterbo and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger between 1534 and 1537 for Alessandro de’ Medici, who had been appointed Governor of Florence by his uncle Giulio de’ Medici, Pope Clement VII. The works began in May 1533 under the supervision of famed warlord Alessandro Vitelli and architect Pier Francesco Florenzuoli da Viterbo.

The first stone was laid on July 15, 1534, and most fortification works were completed by December. The giant, pentagonal fortress was built quickly and with enormous expenditures of resources in order to secure the Medici’s control on the city following their recent return after the Siege of Florence, and to provide lodging for a massive contingent of troops, as well as a refuge for the governors in the event of an upheaval, but also to impress and intimidate the Florentine population with its size.

To emphasize this effect, the side that faces the city was given a monumental aspect by Antonio da Sangallo. The fortress maintained its military function under the Lorraine dukes, when other buildings of architectural and environmental interest were erected, such as the officers’ apartment house and a small theater.

As many other similar constructions, the Fortress remained unused and was entrusted to the military administration until 1967.

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International Jury 2015

X Edition

The International Jury has, for many years, played a very important role in the life of the Biennial. Its role is to assess the artists that take part in the exhibition and provide them with the international award “Lorenzo il Magnifico”.

Elza Ajzenberg

Elza Ajzenberg

Former Coordinator of the Program Inter-units in Aesthetics and Art History (2000-2009) and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in São Paulo MAC-USP (2002-2005) – São Paulo, Brazil.


Dominique E.Baechler

Professor of Aesthetics and Art History at Fundação Sociology and Political Science, Master of Museum Studies, the City of São Paulo, Art Critic – Paris/São Paulo, Brazil.


R. B. Bhaskaran

Former director of the Lalit Kala Akademi Government of India founded by the Ministry of Culture. Director of the College of Arts, Chennai India, painter and engraver – New Delhi, India.


Francesco Buranelli

Former director of the Vatican Museums. Secretary General of the Pontificial Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church – Rome, Italy.


Pasquale Celona

Artist. Founder and president of the Florence Biennale, creator of the ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ International Award and president of the International Jury of the Florence Biennale – Florence, Italy.

Karen Lang

Karen Lang

Associate Professor at the University of Warwick and member of the University’s Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and The Arts. Former editor-in-chief of “The Art Bulletin”, the leading peer-reviewed journal of international art history – United Kingdom

Naoki Dan

Naoki Dan

Professor Emeritus of History of Medieval Art at the University of Gunma, Japan. Foremost specialist of Donatello and Tino di Camaino. He is involved in various international projects aimed at reinterpreting the heritage from the past on the contemporary art scene – Japan.


Maty Roca

Art historian, critic, curator, museographer, and cultural promoter. Member of International Association of Art Critics, Federation of University Women of Mexico and Artistic Treasures of Mexico Society – Cancun, Mexico

Huang Du

Huang Du

Independent curator and art critic, he has published numerous essays and critical articles on international magazines and catalogues of contemporary art. He has co-curated the “50th Venice Biennale—Chinese Pavilion” and curated “The 26th Sao Paulo Biennale—Chinese Pavilion” – Beijin, China.


Gerfried Stocker

Media artist and telecommunications engineer. Since 1995 Stocker has been Artistic Director of the Ars Electronica Festival and Managing Director of the Ars Electronica Center – Linz, Austria.


Gregorio Luke

A former director of the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California. Art Critic and expert on Latin American art, has curated over a thousand lectures on Mexican art in museums and universities. Founder and CEO of non-profit organization ARCOS (Art in Communities and Schools) – Los Angeles, USA

Enrico Vergnano

Enrico Vergnano

Professor at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) and over twenty years of experience as Head of the Design Department in a textile manufacture and in international joint ventures. Carries out extensive research and coordinates the work of textile artists and designers on fiber materials and techniques – Turin, Italy

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