ANNOUNCED THE LIFETIME AWARDEES
FOR THE 2019 FLORENCE BIENNALE – CONTEMPORARY ARTS
Franco Zeffirelli, Florence-born director, set and costume designer, and producer acclaimed worldwide, has been bestowed the Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for Visual and Performing Arts. The Award for Sculpture goes to Mexican sculptor Gustavo Aceves, whilst Turkish-born young artist Refik Anadol receives the Award for New Media Art.
American artist Anthony Howe, famous for his kinetic wind-driven sculptures, and Mice Jankulovski, painter and cultural actor from Macedonia, also enjoy recognition for their outstanding artistic achievements over a lifetime as they will be conferred the Special Award from the President of the Florence Biennale.
Over the past editions of the Florence Biennale, the Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award has been bestowed to distinguished artists such as Marina Abramović, David Hockney, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Gilbert & George, Marta Minujín, Anish Kapoor, and other. The XIIth edition, to be held at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence from 18 to 27 October 2019, makes no exception with its internationally acclaimed lifetime awardees.
Director Jacopo Celona and Curator Melanie Zefferino are delighted to announce the names of the Lorenzo il Magnifico Awardees for 2019 as they are outstanding masters whose creative endeavours stem from a cognitive and creative approach that can be related to the theme of the forthcoming edition, ‘ARS ET INGENIUM. Toward Leonardo da Vinci’s Legacy of Similitude and Invention’. Franco Zeffirelli in primis, Gustavo Aceves and Refik Anadol, and also Anthony Howe and Mice Jankulovski virtually tie in with the idea that contemporary art can draw from, and revive the heritage from the great master of the Renaissance who is regarded as an unsurpassed genius.
Of note, this year the Florence Biennale will unveil its first Design competition and exhibit in a dedicated pavilion at the Fortezza da Basso. To be announced soon, therefore, are the winners of the Leonardo da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award for Design.
The Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for Visual and Performing Arts has been bestowed to Franco Zeffirelli in person at the Zeffirelli Foundation in Florence this year, on 21 September 2019. Florence-born director, scene and set designer, and producer, ‘he has reached pinnacles of artistic achievement in theatre, opera, and film, thereby amazing wide audiences around the world while giving new breath of life to the sense of harmony and beauty at the heart of the Florentine culture. Through works of highly evocative power, Franco Zeffirelli has conjoined the arts as only a wondrous ‘inventor’ could do, also by engaging extraordinary talents in his extraordinary creative process. This prize adds to the many recognitions he holds, including five David di Donatello; two Nastri d’argento, gained with his unforgettable Jesus of Nazareth and Romeo and Juliet, respectively; two due Primetime Emmy Awards; two Academy Awards nominations; the Fiorino d’oro, and other. Also to mention are his commendations as Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Italian Gold Medal of Merit for Culture and Art, and Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. On the occasion of his awarding, an ensemble of photographs and memorabilia will be displayed at the Florence Biennale by the Zeffirelli Foundation, where his sketches for scenery and costumes can be seen within an exhibition path to be accessible with concession to the Florence Biennale artists and audience. Indeed, Franco Zeffirelli can be regarded as a great master of our time who has respectfully reinterpreted cultural heritage while building upon the lesson laid by Leonardo da Vinci at the court of Gian Galeazzo Sforza and, later on, at that of Isabella d’Este-Gonzaga in Marmirolo, where he would entertain and inspire spectators with his scenic devices, inventions, and fables.
The Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for Sculpture is being given to Mexican artist Gustavo Aceves ‘for having masterly represented, through sculpture, fragments of the history of humanity and their migrations. All this to evoke cultural values while warning human beings so that horrors of the past may not be repeated’. Aceves, who holds different recognitions, has exhibited his works in prestigious venues of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ world, including the Contemporary Art Museum of Sabbioneta, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Beijing as well as the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), the Cheek Gil Museum, and the Amparo Museum in Mexico City. At the XIIth Florence Biennale the artist will show one his four monumental horses from the ‘Lapidarium’ project. For that work-in-progress endeavour the artist has envisioned one hundred large-scale Horses, all of which conveying symbolic meaning and being made with different materials and techniques. After having stepped through the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Aceves’ white bronze monumental Horse symbolising the Mare Nostrum will arrive in Florence, at the Fortezza da Basso, where it will stand on Carrara marble blocks. In such an historic setting, Aceves’ Horse may well remind us of the equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza which his son, Ludovico ‘il Moro’, commissioned to Leonardo da Vinci; his preparatory drawings have survived whilst the sculpture never was cast in bronze.
The Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media and Installation Art is being bestowed to young Turkish artist Refik Anadol. Born in Istanbul, he graduated in Photography and Video Art at the Bilgi University, where he also obtained his MA degree in Visual Communication Design before earning his MFA degree in Media Arts at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. Co-founder and artistic director of Antilop.co, he has distinguished himself as an artist exploring the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture and media arts with machine intelligence. His work, also drawing from neuroscience, encompasses live audio/visual performance, site-specific immersive installation, and parametric data sculpture. This Award is being given to him in praise of his experimental and creative process, through which he has engaged viewers in a play on perception triggering a rethinking of aesthetics while dissolving boundaries that constrain our imagination. All this by reinterpreting Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy in new ways, through breakthrough technology, science, and art. To be displayed at the XIIth Florence Biennale is Anadol’s Melting Memories, an immersive installation which, through the illusion of shifting forms on a picture plane with algorithmically generated compositions, makes us reflect on ageing, cognitive decay, and mortality.
The Lorenzo il Magnifico Special Award from the President of the Florence Biennale for outstanding artistic achievement over a lifetime is being given to American artist Anthony Howe, who is regarded as a strikingly innovative protagonist of the contemporary art scene. He is renowned for his mesmerizing, kinetic sculptures, which he has been creating since the late 1980s. Powered by the wind, these stunning artworks appear to be like stars, vortexes, or ‘living beings’ – as art historian Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti would define them. Howe’s approach leading to the creation of works such as Lucea and Azlon (2017) appears to be reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s vision of human life, creativity, and genius in harmony with Nature and its fundamental forces. A kinetic sculpture by Howe, possibly the outcome of a new project, may be exhibited at the Fortezza da Basso within the framework of the XIIth Florence Biennale.
The Lorenzo il Magnifico Special Award from the President of the Florence Biennale for lifetime achievement in painting and commitment to art is being bestowed to Macedonian artist and architect Mice Jankulovski, Director of the Osten Biennial of Drawing in Skopje and President of the Association of Cartoonists of Macedonia. This prize adds to the twelve recognitions he has already earned throughout his fifty-year artistic career, during which he has excelled in research and production spanning drawing, painting, satirical works on glass, cartoons and animation. He has exhibited internationally, and represented Osten at the Venice Biennale. At the XIIth Florence Biennale he is going to showcase his new cycle of abstract paintings made drawing inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s studies on water.