Eternal feminine and eternal change

With its XIII edition, the Florence Biennale was challenged by all the difficulties of having to organise an international event in 2021, a year severely marked by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the adverse historical moment, the event was once again a success, managing to bring over 460 artists and designers from more than 70 countries to the Fortezza da Basso.


The theme chosen for this edition focused on the polychrome and multiform universe of femininity: ETERNAL FEMININE | ETERNAL CHANGE. Concepts of Femininity in Contemporary Art and Design, investigated by the participating artists and designers in its many facets, starting with two major guidelines. On the one hand, the idea that outlines femininity in its immutable essence, which has inspired various of the most important artistic and literary creations in human history. On the other hand, the idea of the perennial change that characterises the contemporary world and that also affects femininity, which is in constant transformation through the thrust of social and cultural movements.

International Open Call Competition

It is from the interpretation of the theme of the XIII edition that the International Open Call Competition was created, as a result of the collaboration between Florence Biennale and Art Market Magazine and Lens Magazine. The objective of the competition, open to artists and photographers, was to identify reference images for the event's communication campaign. The works of the winners - Flora Borsi for the photography section and Jim Tsinganos for the art section - were exhibited in a dedicated space, in which the works of the finalists were also screened in rotation. Flora Borsi and Jim Tsinganos also received the recognition of Guests of Honour of the XIII Florence Biennale and the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Award from the President.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards of the XIII edition

During the XIII Florence Biennale, the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Lifetime Achievement Award for Art was presented to Michelangelo Pistoletto for the continuity of his research conducted for over sixty years in the artistic and interdisciplinary sphere, and for the contributions it has made in the artistic, humanistic, scientific and social disciplines. The artist proposed at the Biennale La Bandiera del Mondo - 1+1=3 (The Flag of the World - 1+1=3), hosted in the Cavaniglia Pavilion.


The Milanese photographer Oliviero Toscani also received the same recognition from the Florence Biennale, for his photographic campaigns of social interest and commitment that have revolutionised the content of mass communication and in general for his civil and ethical commitment. In the spaces of the XIII edition Toscani exhibited a selection of 12 female photos from his project Razza Umana (Human Race), a research that is not only photographic but also cultural, aesthetic, anthropological, socio-political and has been carried out by the photographer for ten years now.


The famous British fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood was awarded the 'Leonardo Da Vinci' Lifetime Achievement Award for Design in recognition of her revolutionary creative output that has marked the history of fashion design over the last fifty years. As part of the exhibition, an exhibition space was dedicated to her tracing the stages of her career, and at her award ceremony the designer publicly read her Letter-SOS to Save the Planet.

Vivienne Westwood reads her “Letter-SOS to Save the Planet”
Vivienne Westwood reads her “Letter-SOS to Save the Planet”

Special projects, conferences and guests of honour

On the occasion of the XIII Florence Biennale, it was also possible to admire some works by the Tuscan sculptor Andrea Roggi placed inside the Fortezza da Basso, in the outdoor area before the entrance to the exhibition: Fecunditas, Insieme per un Nuovo Mondo (Together for a New World) and Le nostre Radici per un Nuovo Mondo (Our Roots for a New World). The artist also received the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Lifetime Achievement Award from the President.


For the first time, the exhibition of works at the Florence Biennale involved the adjacent Cavaniglia Pavilion in addition to the Spadolini Pavilion. The Cavaniglia Pavilion hosted the project curated by Fortunato D'Amico, which saw the participation of more than 60 out-of-competition artists, who created individual and collective installations on the theme of the exhibition.


Michelangelo Pistoletto and Angelo Savarese's work, La Bandiera del Mondo - 1+1=3 (The Flag of the World - 1+1=3), occupied the central space of the pavilion and was composed through a collective performance that also involved the public.


Max Casacci, founder of the band Subsonica, designed the background sound of the Cavaniglia Pavilion thanks to the Earthphonia project made exclusively with the sounds and noises of nature; the musician, guest of honour at the Florence Biennale, was also awarded the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Award from the President.


Another President's Award went to artist Sara Conforti, who proposed in the Cavaniglia pavilion Centrosettantaperottanta: an artistic research project with a site and context-specific installation involving women and exploring their experience through personal objects.


Special projects include Giovanni Ronzoni's performance Voi...prigioniere di sogni nel bosco delle innocenze... (You...prisoner of dreams in the woods of innocence...), a site-specific installation that was the subject of a performative moment involving 12 female poets, on the theme of violence against nature; a sculpture by Paola Crema (Lifetime Achievement Award in memoriam) on display together with a work by her husband Roberto Fallani; an installation by the Milanese artist Enzo Fiore entitled Genesis, who has 'reconstructed' Leonardo da Vinci's Vergine delle rocce (Virgin of the Rocks) using only natural materials; the sculpture-installation Dvlightship II 93941 in steel, LED and electronic motor by Duilio Forte; a sculpture of arte povera by Piero Gilardi; a work made of neon entitled playing with words: A mare, amare, by Alfredo Rapetti Mogol (son of Giulio, aka Mogol). Among the artists in the Cavaniglia Pavilion were also Yuval Avital, an Israeli artist who with his project Foreign Bodies investigated the relationship between man and nature; Maria Cristina Carlini who for the occasion created Foresta (Forest), a monumental sculpture in reclaimed wood and iron; Pierangelo Russo who with Open your mind challenged visitors to be an integral part of his installation and architects Giulio Ceppi, Massimo Facchinetti, Marcella Gabbiani and Massimo Roj.

“La Bandiera del mondo - 1+1=3” (The Flag of the World - 1+1=3) by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Angelo Savarese
“La Bandiera del mondo - 1+1=3” (The Flag of the World - 1+1=3) by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Angelo Savarese

Other projects that also featured were the Artiglieria association (operating in the artistic, social and cultural spheres) and Change for Planet (an association of young people for the environment), which planned an event focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), to which an interactive art installation was associated. Other guests at the Cavaniglia were designer Fabio Novembre and artists Ercole Pignatelli and Laura Zeni together with Giuliano Sangiorgi (voice of Negramaro), engaged in the creation of a work - Tappeto volante (Flying Carpet) - embellished with Nudi (Naked), an unpublished poem by the singer from Puglia.


The programme of conferences held in the theatre area of the Spadolini Pavilion was also particularly rich. These included the round table with the participation of the Honourable Elena Bonetti, Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family, on the theme of sustainable fashion and gender equality objectives, and the presentation of ADI Museum with the General Director of the Milan Triennial Foundation Andrea Cancellato, which was joined by the exhibition 'ADI Museum in Tuscany - 1300 km of design' curated by the ADI Delegation of Tuscany, hosted in a space within the Florence Biennale and focusing on some of the excellence of Made in Italy design. As part of the event, there was also an interesting moment of confrontation between the three winners of this edition's Lifetime Achievement Award - Michelangelo Pistoletto, Oliviero Toscani and Vivienne Westwood - who met at a round table and interacted with each other and the public.
Other moments of great interest were the talks by Gregorio Luke - member of the International Jury and expert in Latin American art - on Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo and the workshop Creative Energy by Sara Del Bene, a workshop that involved the public in an interactive installation.


The XIII Florence Biennale also presented and screened the national premieres of Can't stop the sun from shining by Teresa Mular, who also received the President's Award on this occasion, and Exorcisms and other supplications by Georden West.

The round table with Michelangelo Pistoletto, Oliviero Toscani and Vivienne Westwood
The round table with Michelangelo Pistoletto, Oliviero Toscani and Vivienne Westwood

Other news

In addition to the numerous awards at the Florence Biennale, the Award from the public was assigned for the first time during this edition. Visitors to the exhibition were able to vote for their favourite work scanning it with their mobile phone, thanks to an evaluation system developed by the Austrian art promotion platform Fynd.art. The first Visitors Award was assigned to the work Last Supper XXI by Piotr Barszczowski.


The work that received the most votes from the public via this platform, along with the others that won the first award for the 12 categories in the competition, were exhibited in a 'Winners' Exhibition' of the XIII Florence Biennale shortly after the event ended. The exhibition was hosted from 12 November to 4 December 2021 in the Salone delle udienze and the Sala della biblioteca of the Palazzo dell'Arte dei Beccai, home of the Academy of the Arts of drawing in Florence.

Curatorial Board: Pasquale Celona, Piero Celona, Jacopo Celona, Giovanni Cordoni, Fortunato D’Amico, Gabriele Goretti, Loredana Trestin


Italian National Commission for UNESCO
European Parliament
Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
Ministry of Culture
Tuscany Region
Municipality of Florence
ADI Design Museum Compasso d’Oro
ADI Industrial Design Association - Tuscany Delegation
ALA Assoarchitetti

International Jury

Elza Ajzenberg - Coordinator of the Mario Schenberg Centre for Documentation of Research in Arts at the University of São Paulo (BRAZIL)
Dominique E.Baechler - Professor of Aesthetics and Art History at Fundação Sociology and Political Science, Course of Museology, City of São Paulo (BRAZIL)
Francesco Buranelli - General Secretary of the Pontificial Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (ITALY)
Pasquale Celona - Artist, cofounder and President of the Florence Biennale (ITALY)
Perla Gianni Falvo - Member of the Board of Directors of ADI, Association for Industrial Design and ADI President Delegation Tuscany (ITALY)
Yuko Hasegawa - Artistic director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (JAPAN)
Gregorio Luke - Art Critic, Curator and Expert in Latin American Art (USA)
Mario Pachioli - Artist, sculptor of the “Lorenzo il Magnifico” Award medal of the Florence Biennale (ITALY)
Regina Schrecker - Fashion designer and costume designer of world-famous theater (ITALY)
Enrico Vergnano - Professor at the European Institute of Design (ITALY)