Brunelleschi and the wolves

Liu Ruowang, Piazza de' Pitti, Florence

A pack of ravenous wolves is on its way to Piazza de’ Pitti in Florence…

This phrase seems to be the beginning of a dystopian tale containing a premonition of the disastrous effects of the conflictual relationship between nature and man; instead, it is a reference to the installation, Wolves Coming, by the Chinese sculptor Liu Ruowang (1977), one of the best emerging artists of the Far East.

The iron wolves growl threateningly towards the Palazzo’s façade, the famous rusticated façade designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Liu’s intention is evidently to juxtapose the monumental and harmonious bulk of Brunelleschi’s façade with the disruptive arrival of the destruction brought by the wolves, in response, let it be clear, to man’s predatory behavior – by now devoid of any rational balance – towards the environment. However, the link between the plastic and majestic representation of the wolves and the tradition of Florentine art, always oriented towards the description of the natural world, is also evident. For centuries, wild beasts have populated the poetic digressions of artists and intellectuals on the banks of the Arno. From Pietro Tacca’s Porcellino – a wild boar, not at all tame – to the hippopotamus that Cosimo III had embalmed and exhibited at Boboli, the wolves coming today from Ponte Vecchio are the heirs of many other wonders of nature, recurring in the past in the life and art of Florence, and the incarnation of a Dionysian spirit evident in the life of the city, which in no way manages to recognize itself in the rational – and Renaissance – measure of urban spaces.

Liu Ruowang, Piazza de’ Pitti, Florence

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