Time to gush about our trip to Florence! For two weeks I taught still life painting at the Florence Studio while Dave very good naturedly shouldered the brunt of the parenting responsibilities. I'm going to overlook that one incident with the jarred puréed cavallo and go ahead and say he did a wonderful job. Oh, and apparently my husband speaks Italian. Like, for real. He had conversations with Italian people. It wasn't quite a Fish Called Wanda moment, but I definitely had to stop and add a few dozen language points to the scorecard of a man who routinely makes up words and insists they're real.
The Florence Studio's rooms satisfied my ideal of an artist's space in Florence. If I had a window like that in my studio I would just Vermeer it up in every single painting. The school is located just a couple of block away from the Ponte Vecchio, so it's centrally located to all the cool stuff that an art nerd could hope to see. We stayed at a really nice apartment not far away with my parents and sister+fiancé.
I would have liked to fit in more museum visits, but I did fit in some really important ones. First up was the Annigoni Museum. Must see. I had no idea how big some of these paintings are!
Zoologia La Specola. Here we are in the cuddly plushy section. The really hair raising part is the wax anatomy sculpture section. It was a weird merging of the uncanny valley with bacon.
It felt inappropriate to take a photo of all that nude, writhing greasiness at the time, so I'm lifting a picture from the internet:
There were a couple dozens of these bodies, male and female, all in the throes of agony/ecstasy. The female bodies were very virginal, with long braids and white veils. If you're a Mutter Museum sort of person, this place is a must see.
And of course the Museu Moderna in the Palazzo Pitti, which contains mostly work spanning the 18th and 19th centuries. According to the Museu Moderna, art never got more modern than Antonio Mancini, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Everywhere we went we got the most generous and friendly treatment. It turns out the old part of Florence is besotted with babies. It took me a couple of days to notice it, but they have a total Children of Man thing going on. Nobody has babies in the old part of Florence. Cooks would come out of the kitchen to deliver mini plates of cheese and bread for Bubs when we stopped at restaurants and rabid nonnas wanted to fondle and talk to him. Everyone was nice to us because of him. The next time we go to Florence the sprog will be bigger, so we're planning on taking a sleeping reborn doll with us in order to receive the same goodwill.
One more thing just to make you drool: our hosts showed us into the spectacular grotto-like antiques dealer shop below. This still life artifact fun house was completely unidentifiable from the outside, which makes you wonder how many treasure troves there are like this. We flipped our shit and bought the only thing in the place we could afford and brought it back to be the star of an upcoming still life painting.
I owe a huge thank you to Laura Thompson and Frank Rekrut, who run the Florence Studio, for hosting my workshop and showing me an insider's view of the neighbourhood; and of course to my students for joining in the fun.
For those of you interested in traveling to and studying in Florence, The Florence Studio offers a number of great workshops next year, including a workshop by Natural Pigments, as well as private teaching to fit a custom schedule. It's a beautiful space in the heart of old Florence and Frank and Laura are warm and knowledgeable teachers.