Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art


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Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art

Nathalie Djurberg, Adrian Ghenie, Arcangelo Sassolino, Chiharu Shiota, Annegret Soltau

5 October 2012−27 January 2013
Opening: Thursday 4 October


Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art, an exhibition co-curated by Franziska Nori (Director of the CCC Strozzina) and Barbara Dawson (Director of the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane), will be presenting work by contemporary artists who exam today’s existential state of societal mind. Their work explores the kind of questions man asks himself in his relationship with his own interior being, his body and the outside world.  At the core of the exhibition are paintings by Francis Bacon (1909-1992), whose work is placed in dialogue with that of five contemporary artists of international renown: Nathalie Djurberg, Adrian Ghenie, Arcangelo Sassolino, Chiharu Shiota and Annegret Soltau. These artists share Bacon’s reflection on man’s existential condition and on the depiction of the human figure.

Bacon’s paintings on display are set against a selection of photographic and hardcopy material from the artist’s archive: photo portraits, reproductions of masterpieces of the past, film stills, and pictures from books and magazines. This material, which Bacon used as a working tool when creating his art, is presented in the exhibition thanks to the CCC Strozzina’s cooperation with the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, which acquired an authentic and perfectly preserved reconstruction of the artist’s last London workshop in 1998.

His mingling of the figurative and the abstract, his bodies transfigured, his reference to autobiographical elements, his use of a variety of different iconographic sources and of tension and isolation as metaphors of man’s life can also be found as crucial aspects of in the work of the five contemporary artists that is arranged in a situation of dialogue with Bacon in an effort to trigger an existential reflection on contemporary living.

Adrian Ghenie (Romania, 1977) creates paintings in which he merges personal images or images that are emblematic of recent history by dipping into such varied sources as catalogues, history books, film stills and pictures discovered on the Internet. Ghenie explores the depiction of the human figure, which he almost assaults, especially around the face, the symbol of a person’s individuality.
In her installations, Chiharu Shiota (Japan, 1972) seems to translate emotional states and existential reflections onto a three-dimensional plane, addressing such issues as the memory and dreams, autobiographical elements and traces of a past that take on an evocative, collective physical form. Nathalie Djurberg (Sweden, 1978) works with clay and plasticine to create the symbolic and disturbing environments and figures which populate her installations and her video animation. Djurberg raises existential doubts and asks existential questions shifting between life and death, fear and desire, moving between unsettling taboos and such complex facets of the human condition as vulnerability, solitude, sexuality and death.
Arcangelo Sassolino
(Italy, 1967) creates installations in which mechanical systems explore the effects caused by extreme forces. His works shows us both the shaping and the transience of things in their essentiality, deliberately rejecting all explicit recourse to metaphor. They are a latter-day memento mori warning, depicting man’s inability to go beyond the expectation of an event, or vice-versa, beyond its end.
From the 1970s till today, Annegret Soltau (Germany, 1946) works on the themes of the body and of identity through performances, video art and photography. This experimentation with photography achieves its apex with the so-called photo sewings, in which the artist’s face or fragments of different faces are criss-crossed by thin black thread. The wounds, constrictions and fragmentation of her faces and bodies are transformed into a tool for reflection on the depiction and expression of the human existential condition.

Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art is organised by the Centre di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina in conjunction with the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (Dublin).




Tel. +39 055 2645155

Press Office:
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Tel. +39 055 3917122, Fax +39 055 2646560,


Francis Bacon e la condizione esistenziale nell’arte contemporanea /
Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art

Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina
Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze
5 ottobre 2012-27 gennaio 2013 / October 5, 2012 – January 27, 2013


Promossa da / Promoted by
Comune di Firenze
Provincia di Firenze
Camera di Commercio di Firenze
Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi
e / and Regione Toscana

Unicoop Firenze


Un progetto del CCC Strozzina con la collaborazione di Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
A project by CCC Strozzina in collaboration with Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

Organizzata da / Organised by
Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi

A cura di / Curated by
Franziska Nori
Barbara Dawson

Coordinamento progetto / Project coordination
Riccardo Lami

Coordinamento prestiti / Registrar
Fiorella Nicosia

Progetto grafico e allestimento / Graphic and exhibition design
Markus Bader

Coordinamento dell’allestimento / Installation coordination
Rita Scrofani

Attività educative e progetti speciali / Educational services and special projects
Alessio Bertini
Martino Margheri
Francesca Giulia Tavanti

Coordinamento lecture / Lectures programme
Alessio Bertini

Stagista / Intern
Giacomo Biagi


Ufficio stampa e comunicazione / Press office and communication
Alessandra Santerini con Chiara Costa
Lavinia Rinaldi, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
Sue Bond Public Relations, London

Promozione / Promotion
Sigma CSC, Firenze

Testi in mostra / Exhibition texts
Franziska Nori, Riccardo Lami
Con la collaborazione di / With the collaboration of Giacomo Biagi


Realizzazione dell’allestimento / Exhibition setup
Galli Mostre; Atlas e Livelux Light Designers;
Stampa in Stampa, Firenze; Andrea Gelli, Prato;
Simone Bagnoli.

Per l’installazione di Chiharu Shiota / For Chiharu Shiota’s installation:
David Batignani, Laura Fratangelo, Giacomo Ricci, Athina Tsantekidou, Christina Tsantekidou

Noleggio attrezzatura tecnologica / Technology rental
Go One srl

Condition Report
Cinzia Nanni
Francesca Bettini (Opificio delle Pietre Dure)

Assicurazioni / Insurance
Progress Insurance Broker, Roma/Firenze
Kuhn & Bülow, Berlin/Moskau/Zürich
Willis Ltd. a Lloyd’s Broker, London

Trasporti / Transport
Apice Firenze S.r.l.
Butterfly Transport, Pistoia

Conservazione preventiva e controllo climatico / Preventive conservation and climate control
Roberto Boddi, Sandra Cassi
(Opificio delle Pietre Dure)

Responsabile della sicurezza / Head of security
Studio Associato Frusi & Partners srl, Firenze

Assistenza e manutenzione impianti elettrici / Alarm system assistance and maintenance
Professional Security Srl

Assistenza e manutenzione impianti di condizionamento / Air-conditioning system assistance and maintenance
R.S. di Rossi Sergio & C. Srl


Personale mostra e biglietteria / Exhibition and ticket office staff
TML Service, Firenze

Biglietteria multicanale / Multi-channel ticket office
Vivaticket by Charta

Catalogo della mostra / Exhibition catalogue
Hatje Cantz Verlag

Contributi di / Contributions by
James M. Bradburne, Barbara Dawson, Martin Harrison, Michela Marzano, Franziska Nori

Progetto grafico del catalogo / Catalogue graphic design
Cristina Morandin, Studio Out, Venezia Mestre

Copertina catalogo / Catalogue cover
Markus Bader

Revisione dei testi / Copyediting
Vittoria Florio, Laura Abbarchi

Traduzioni / Translations
Anthony Brierley, Roberto Mana, Stephen Tobin


Prestatori / Lenders
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin
The Estate of Francis Bacon, London
Fondazione Prada, Milano
Michael Guttman Collection, Brussels
Kemal Has Cingillioglu
The Pace Gallery, London
Collezione Prada, Milano
Pyms Gallery, London
The Sander Collection, Darmstadt

Ringraziamenti / Acknowledgments
Tutti gli artisti / All the artists; tutto lo staff del / all the staff of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane; Oliver Barker e/and Sotheby’s, London; Liz Beatty e/and Christophe Dejean, The Estate of Francis Bacon; Anita Beckers; Antoine Carlier; Miel de Botton; Michael Dempsey; Martin e/and Eugenia Ephson; Marco Gambino; Esther Iseppi; Mihaela Lutea, Galerie Plan B; Giò Marconi; Perry Ogden; Miuccia Prada e/and Astrid Welter, Fondazione Prada; Pilar Ordovas; Polly Robinson Gaer, The Pace Gallery London; Natalia Stoop, WoA Inc.c/o Belvédère Asset Management AG; Daniel Templon e/and Anne-Claudie Corric, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris; Fru Tholstrup, Haunch of Venison London; Esther van der Minne, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art

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Con la grande mostra dedicata ad Ai Weiwei (23 settembre 2016-22 gennaio 2017) per la prima volta Palazzo Strozzi diventa uno spazio espositivo unitario che comprende facciata, Cortile, Piano Nobile e Strozzina.

L’arte contemporanea esce dalla Strozzina e si espande sia a livello espositivo che di comunicazione, in uno scenario in cui Palazzo Strozzi partecipa attivamente all’avanguardia artistica del nostro tempo.

Per questo motivo le informazioni relative alla mostra Ai Weiwei. Libero e il programma di mostre e attività future dedicato all'arte contemporanea saranno consultabili direttamente al sito e sui canali social di Palazzo Strozzi.