VIII EDIZIONE 2011 - Biennale



Firenze nel solco della tradizione con uno sguardo al futuro

More than 500 artists from over 60 countries gathered together at the historic Fortezza da Basso for the Biennale’s eighth edition. The event has once again promoted an international vision of contemporary art, without forgetting the importance of the territory and giving its audience the hope and vision of a different socio-economic and cultural future, with an increasing focus on knowledge and intercultural dialogue.

Once again, a moment of encounter has been created between the cultures and artistic expressions of many nations of the world, reconfirming the city of Florence, in the wake of its traditional vocation to peace, a place of knowledge and dialogue between peoples.

I premi alla Carriera dell’ottava edizione

As usual, also during this edition were awarded prizes to personalities of contemporary artistic culture. 
The “Lorenzo il Magnifico” Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to José Luis Cuevas, versatile personality of contemporary Mexican culture who since 1959 has received numerous awards, in national and international competitions and exhibitions. Talented designer, painter, engraver and sculptor, with a path of research of his own original and personal style in sharp break with the artistic culture of "Mexican muralism" represented one of the most important plastic artists belonging to the generation known as "Ruptura", precisely because of its critical position on the Mexican painting school. Through his work he has investigated, depicted and interpreted - also revealing expressionistic and cubist suggestions - the effects of illness, mental illness, physical deformity, human degradation. Within the exhibition, a space was dedicated to the career of the master José Luis Cuevas, who met in person the audience present. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award was also awarded to fashion designer and designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, a vital and elegant personality of the Spanish cultural world, which with inspiration and a strong sense of colour that derives from a youthful pictorial training has over time designed and made a considerable number of clothing. Since 2004, with the opening of her headquarters in Milan, she decided to use Italy as an international launch platform with collections for children (Pitti Bimbo in Florence) and women (Milan Fashion Week) together with other products as well as sets and costumes for plays. Her works have been exhibited in art galleries and museums around the world. For her first parades she used unusual catwalks related to the world of art.
Her presence at the Florence Biennale symbolized the encounter between the artificial and the natural, the avant-garde and the classic, as Florence has been over many centuries. Within the event was dedicated to the thirty years of the designer’s career, with 40 clothes on display.

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada riceve il Premio alla Carriera "Lorenzo il Magnifico"
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada riceve il Premio alla Carriera

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada con la prima ballerina del Maggio Danza
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada con la prima ballerina del Maggio Danza

Progetti per il coinvolgimento dei giovani: Sit-In Florence e “Impariamo a leggere l’arte contemporanea”

The commitment to the training of the younger generation was particularly reflected in two special projects designed ad-hoc.

The Florence Biennale wanted to promote interventions of involvement of the territory through young people and students, intending to show the artistic skills in the educational and educational system.
During this edition of the event, the Biennale engaged with the entire city and its works of art. The Fortezza da Basso served as the starting point for the project Sit-In Florence: five-hundred young participants each created a contemporary ‘re-interpretation’ of chairs donated by IKEA according to the guidelines provided by the Faculty SIT-in Florence, and then exhibited these in the streets of Florence during the event. In this way the students measured themselves with one of the most representative objects among the archetypes of design

The Sit-In Florence event represented an invasion of "artist’s" chairs in the magnificent historic center of Florence. The project involved 10 high schools in Florence, the Art Academies of Florence and Carrara and the University of Florence. Significant some stages of their journey as the Province, the Region, Palazzo Vecchio, Via Tornabuoni and the historic center.

The assignment, the disciplinary SIT-in Florence and the whole idea represented first of all a training project, an art education project and its various forms of expression and composition. Contemporary art has taken on a fundamental emotional aspect in this initiative, of interpretation of society, events, everyday events and contemporary lifestyles and at the same time a break with formal and behavioral images and superstructures.

The purpose of the guidelines proposed by the Faculty SIT-IN Florence was not to limit the poetic design, but rather to suggest creative channels that could enhance, through the chair, new deep meanings. Closely linked to the identity of Florence, capital of the Italian Way product and lifestyle, the themes ranged from the history of the unity of Italy through the cuisine and the local language, ending with Italian art, fashion and science. Florence has therefore set itself up as a city that promotes the attraction value of "creative capital". A city where you can grow and where you have the opportunity to expose your own product, your own idea, your own dream.

Wishing to include younger children as well, the Biennale and the local Education Council also promoted the project “Learning to read Contemporary Art”. Stefano Francolini, the Biennale’s Artistic Director, oversaw a series of lectures in various Florentine schools. These events were organized with the intent of explaining how contemporary art is made and how it should be read. Students from participating schools were then given a special tour of the Biennale’s exhibits.

Alcuni degli studenti del progetto "Sit in Florence"
Alcuni degli studenti del progetto

Eventi nell’Evento

In addition to the main exhibition of contemporary works of art, the Florence Biennale presented again this year an interesting calendar of collateral events.

A contemporary dance performance took place in honour of the stylist Agatha Ruiz de La Prada. The show was performed by MaggioDanza, the resident dance company of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and one of the main dance companies active in Italy. It featured Adonis Foniadakis’ Selon Desir and a solo piece choreographed by Francesco Ventirglia and performed by the principal dancer Sabrina Vitangeli, who wore an outfit especially designed by the stylist for this occasion.

The company Opus Ballet Giovani, directed by Rosanna Brocanello, presented the new dance piece Adamant, which was choreographed by Peter Mika and inspired by Nicholas Roerich, the great artist and intellectual. On this occasion the dance company, which is one of the most important European revelations, also presented some of its own new choreographies.

The Florence Biennale has shown great commitment also in this edition to support research projects through art and culture. The event housed a special space that exhibited works of art that had been donated by artists to the Association FiorGen Onlus, which conducts research into pharmacogenomics. At the end of the exhibition FiorGen received the proceeds obtained from the auction of these works of art.

Artistic Director: Stefano Francolini


Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities
Region of Tuscany
Province of Florence
City of Florence
United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations 2001

Giuria Internazionale

Elza Ajzenberg – Coordinator of the Program of Aesthetics and Art History of the University of São Paulo (BRAZIL)
Pang Bang Ben – Advisor to the Chinese Oil Painting Artists Institute and artist (CHINA)
R.B. Bhaskaran – Director of the College of Arts di Chennai, painter and engraver (INDIA)
Francesco Buranelli – Secretary General of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (ITALY)
Gregorio Luke – Art Critic, Curator and Latin American Art expert (USA)
Bianca Laura Petretto – Journalist, Contemporary Art Curator and Modern and Oriental Art expert (ITALY)
Matty Roca – Art Historian, President of the Cancun City Council for Culture and Arts (MEXICO)
Gerfried Stocker – Artistic Director of the Ars Electronica Center of Linz (AUSTRIA)
Rosa Tejada – Associated educator of the Metropolitan Museum of New York (USA)
Maurizio Vanni – Museologist, Art Critic, Art Historian and Art Management Specialist, Director of the Lu.C.C.A. – Lucca Center of Contemporary Art (ITALY)