As I entered Piazza della Signoria in November, I was surprised to see it occupied by a massive excremental aluminum sculpture. Big Clay #4 is the actual title of the 12 meter high work by Swiss artist Urs Fischer.
The sculpture is actually an enlargement of pieces of clay that the artist modeled with his hands. He took 5 small pieces of clay and squished them around in his hands, then piled them up. Then it was ‘supersized’ to 12 meters high. The artist’s fingerprints and palm creases that were impressed onto the surface of the clay were also reproduced. An interesting idea…. too bad it came out looking like poo.
The installation of this sculpture is not a successful pairing of contemporary and Renaissance/Classic art. If I sound like a harsh art critic, let me say that I am not one of those people who just dislikes contemporary art. In fact, one of my favourite musei in Firenze is the Museo Marino Marini, housed in the deconsecrated ancient church of San Pancrazio. Marini’s 20th Century sculptures are elegant and classic and his melding of the historical and the contemporary is extremely successful.
In my determined quest to find a positive angle on this work, I looked at the photo below and wondered if the artist was trying to (unsuccessfully) mimic the spiraling vortex of Giambologna’s Ratto delle Sabine. This is not the case, since I found out the sculpture was not made for this site. It was previously displayed outside of the Seagram Building in Manhattan, where it was known as the ‘Big Turd’.
The work is supposed to be thought provoking. The only thought that came to me was ‘Now I know what it would it look like if a brontosaurus took a big dump in the middle of Piazza della Signoria!’ The sculpture is up until January 21st, so you only have 4 more days to see it here. My title may sound a bit harsh, but many other colourful, scatologically oriented comments were heard in the piazza and around Firenze. I don’t think many Fiorentini will be sad to see it go!