“Palazzo Strozzi from Koons to Donatello” historical art event in New York

A historical, cultural event by the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA on July 6 in New York. The great American artist Jeff Koons took part in an out-of-time parallel with Donatello, along with 17-year-old American students learning about the Renaissance. He spoke with Metropolitan Museum Director Max Hollein, Arturo Galansino, Director of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Mario Calvo-Platero, President of Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA, and Joachim Pissarro, a curator of contemporary art and a descendant of artist Camille Pissarro. Together they look for that subtle thread that binds works made 500 years apart: “It’s a thread that is knotted around certain fixed points,” Koons said, “the research on materials – always very different from each other – the search for perfection in execution and above all in the great humanity, in the great serenity that certain works manage to convey on an emotional level. There is no doubt that Donatello was the great master of all the artists who followed him, from Michelangelo to Leonardo to us. I am confronted daily with the need to learn and study to advance further and further into uncharted territories.”

The title explains the spirit of the evening: “Palazzo Strozzi from Koons to Donatello.” In chronological order, in fact, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, known worldwide for alternating major exhibitions of contemporary artists with classic artists, hosted a retrospective on Jeff Koons dedicated to “Shine,” the luster of his works, which ended last January, followed immediately by an unprecedented exhibition on Donatello (open until the end of July). Unprecedented because, as Director General Arturo Galansino explained, “we had works, which didn’t move for 600 years from their place of origin. A comprehensive exhibition in the artist’s path of growth, of his confrontation with Brunelleschi, but above all, for the way it illustrates in each room the cultural break from the rules of the time of this artist who, in fact, with his provocations, inaugurated humanism and the Renaissance.”

The same can be said of Jeff Koons, an artist who in turn tore with modern tradition by proposing multicolored fluffy figures with extraordinary light reflections, such as the bright red balloon dog. This one looks soft and light but actually weighs nearly two tons, made by overcoming enormous technical difficulties in the casting process, not far from those Donatello faced in making the sculpture of St. Ludwig, huge for its time.

Also in the audience were the winners of the Palazzo Strozzi High School Renaissance Award, organized by the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA, the only foreign-born nonprofit organization with a philanthropic mission for education on American soil: a competition on the Renaissance for eleventh-grade students of public schools.