Poggio Imperiale: A human body at the center of nature

Antony Gormley
Antony Gormley, Fai spazio, prendi posto - Making Space, Taking Place, 2004, Arte all’Arte IX. Foto: Ela Bialkowska. ©Associazione Arte Continua, San Gimignano

Near Poggibonsi, an imposing ring of walls rises along the external perimeter of the Medici Fortress built between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century by orders of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The project was not carried out to full completion and, therefore, the urban nucleus designed by Giuliano da Sangallo to be built inside the walls, like a human body at the center of nature or of the world, was never realized. Instead, the Cassero was built which today, having been restored, still dominates the surrounding hills. The Cassero, unique in Tuscany, is an imposing work of fortification built on a pentagonal plan, inscribable in a larger rectangle with bastions at each of its four corners, that recalls the anthropomorphic shape theorized by Francesco di Giorgio Martini for the “ideal city.”

Poggio Imperiale
Medici Fortress in Poggio Imperiale, entrance, Poggibonsi, Siena. Photo: Vignaccia76

Upon entering the Cassero, one notices a figure positioned atop a wall; from far away it seems to be a person looking out over the horizon and dominating the fortress, as though to protect it by warning visitors. Coming closer, one sees that it is one of the seven marvelous site-specific works by Antony Gormley, part of the Fai spazio, prendi posto (Making space, taking place) series, created by the artist on the occasion of “Arte all’Arte,” a project of the Associazione Arte Continua. Exhibited inside the Cassero, there is also Kiki Smith’s Blue Girl, a sculpture depicting a seated girl, an enigmatic figure that the artist created in 2011 for UMoCA (Under Museum of Contemporary Art) in Colle di Val d’Elsa.

Poggio Imperiale
Kiki Smith, Bue Girl (Poggibonsi), Yellow Girl (San Gimignano), Red Girl (Colle di Val d’Elsa), 2011, UMoCA (Under Museum of Contemporary Art) 2011. Photo: Pamela Bralia. © Associazione Arte Continua, San Gimignano

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